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a lilttle bit of history(not sure they are facts)

David A

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Just a wee bit of history:

In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either

sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him

standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed

both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how

many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted.

Arms and legs are "limbs," therefore painting them would cost the buyer

more. Hence the expression, "Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg."


As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year!

(May and October) Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their

heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford

good wigs made from wool. The wigs couldn't be washed, so to clean them

they could carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it

for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term

"big wig." Today we often use the term "here comes the Big Wig" because

someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.


In the late 1700s, many houses consisted of a large room with only one

chair. Commonly, a long wide board was folded down from the wall and used

or dining. The "head of the household" always sat in the chair while

everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Once in a while, a guest (who was

almost always a man) would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal.

To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. Sitting in the

chair, one was called the "chair man." Today in business we use the

expression or title "Chairman" or "Chairman of the Board."


Needless to say, personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As a

result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The

women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their

complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to

stare at another woman's face she was told "mind your own bee's wax."

Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term "crack a

smile." Also, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt and

therefore the expression "losing face."


Ladies wore corsets which would lace up in the front. A tightly tied lace

was worn by a proper and dignified lady as in "straight laced."


Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax

levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the "Ace of

Spades." To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead.

Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be

stupid or dumb because they weren't "playing with a full deck."


Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what was

considered important to the people. Since there were no telephones, TV's or

radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and

bars who were told to "go sip some ale" and listen to people's

conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at

different times. "You go sip here" and "You go sip there." The two words

"go sip" were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and,

thus we have the term "gossip."


At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized

containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep

the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was

drinking in "pints" and who was drinking in "quarts," hence the term

"minding your "P's and Q's."


One more: bet you didn't know this!

In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried

iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary

to keep a good supply near the cannon, but how to prevent them from rolling

about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square based pyramid

with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on

sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area

right next to the cannon. There was only one problem...how to prevent the

bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution

was a metal plate called a "Monkey" with 16 round indentations. But, if

this plate were made of iron, the ironballs would quickly rust to it. The

solution to the rusting problem was to make "Brass Monkeys." Few

landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than

iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the

brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would

come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, "Cold enough to

freeze the balls off a brass monkey." (And all this time, you thought that

was an improper expression, didn't you?)

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