Military stories from past to present, both wars.

New Email from LtCol George Goodson

January 24th, 2011 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

I emailed George and asked if he had a moment to write something and he sent this interesting piece on the Origin of different terms.  Some I had never heard of.  Thanks George and look forward to more pieces from you soon!        

                                  THE ORIGINS OF TERMS                    

                          By George Goodson, LtCol, USMC, Retired

                                                 Jan 22, 2011                                   

    In George Washington’s day images were painted.  Some paintings show him

    standing behind his desk with one arm behind his back.  A few showed both arms

    and legs.  These paintings were more costly than the former.  Why?  Hands and

    arms are more difficult to paint.  Hence the expression,

    “It will cost you an arm and  a leg.”

    In the same time frame, men and women bathed only twice a year: May and October.

    Women kept their hair covered.  Men shavedtheir heads and wore wigs.  Why?  Lice

    and bugs were omnipresent.  Wealth men wore wigs made of wool.  They carved a

    bread into the proper shape, put the wig in the bread, and bake it.  The heat made the

    wigs big and fluffy.  Thus the expression for someone wealthy and powerful,

    “Big wig.”

    In the 1700, most houses consisted of one large room with one chair.  A wide board

    folded down from the wall for dining. The head of the household sat in the chair.

    The rest of the people sat on the floor.  Occasionally guest would be invited to

    sit in the chair.  To sit in the chair meant you were important.  The family would

    referred to him as the ‘chair man.’  Today in business, we use the term

    Chairman / Chairman of the Board

    Playing cards was a common entertainment.  To buy cards, one would have to

    pay a tax on the ace of of spades.  To avoid this tax, many people bought only 51

    cards.  Those people were said to be stupid since they

    weren’t playing with a full deck

    Early politcians wanted feedback from the public to determine what people thought

    important.  Politicians sent their assistant to local taverns to listen to conversations

    and learn of their concerns.  They were told to “go sip some ale.”  “You go sip here.”

    and “you go sip there. ”  Go sip eventually became gossip!             

    At local taverns and pubs, people drank from pint and quart size containers.  The bar

    maids job was to watch the customers and keep the drinks coming.  She had to pay

    close attention who was drinking in pints and who was drinking in quarts.  This finally

    became:  “Minding your P’s and Q’s.

    In the days of sailing ships, all war ships and freighters carried iron cannons that fired

    round iron cannon balls.  A good supply of the cannon balls was kept near the

    cannon.  To keep them from rolling about the deck they were stored in a square

    based pyramid with i ball resting on 4 which rested on 9 which rested on 16,

   This provided  30 cannon balls next to the cannon.  To keep tke cannon balls in this

    position, a metal  plate called a monkey with 16 round indentations held the cannon

    balls.  The monkey was made of brass.  However when the weather was too cold the

    cannon balls would  become loose and roll off the monkey.  Hence the expression,

    “Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey .”

            I thought this vulgar until I found its origin.  

                           Semper Fi, Marines

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