It’s really fun figuring
out where expressions and phrases we use without thinking about them come
Most of us see the word
“chairman” many times each day…and hear it more often than that.
Our common word has a
history of its own that goes back into the 1700s. In those days, many
houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. It was the common
habit to fold a long and wide board down from the wall to be used for
dining. The “head of the household” always sat in the chair while
everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Once in a while, an important
guest would be offered this chair during a meal. Almost always this
important guest was a man.
To sit in the only chair
meant you were important and in charge. Sitting in the chair, you were
called the “chair man.”
Today in business, we
used the expression/title, “chairman.”
Early in our country’s
history, politicians required – then as today – feedback from the public
to determine what was considered important to the people. There were no
telephones, no televisions or radios in those days, so politicians sent
their assistants to local taverns and pubs and bars to “go sip some here”
and “go sip some there.” Many assistants were dispatched at different
times. They were all told “go sip some here” and “go sip some there.”
Eventually, the two
words “go sip” were combined when referring to the local opinion. You’ve
figured out by now that this is where our term “gossip” comes from!
Long ago, women wore
corsets which would lace up the front. A tightly tied lace was worn by a
proper and dignified lady. Today, we remember those uncomfortable women
with the term, “straight laced.”
Years ago, common
entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied
when purchasing playing cards. The tax was only applicable when the Ace
of Spades was included in the deck. To avoid paying the tax, many people
would simply buy the 51 cards – minus the taxable Ace of Spades.
Since most card games
require 52 cards, the frugal 51-card-deck people were thought to be stupid
or dumb because “they weren’t playing with a full deck.”
Next time you go
anywhere and are driving on the Eisenhower Interstate System, notice that
one mile of highway in every five miles is straight as it can be. The
straight sections are usable as airstrips in time of war or other
Speaking of things
military, our military salute – the common form of respect for superior
officers – was originally intended for beautiful women! The salute
started in England over five hundred years ago, when knights took part in
tournaments. There was always a beautiful woman presiding over the
As the knights would
pass the beautiful woman, he would shade his eyes with his hand in order
to protect them from the rays of loveliness!
Think about how much the
automobiles in your garage cost, please.
Now, compare that figure with your annual income.
In the Middle Ages, a great war horse cost the equivalent of a year’s
Times don’t change much do they?
If you enjoy interesting
facts, please accept our invitation to come to the library in Moultrie.
If you enjoy genealogy –
the study of your family history – please accept our invitation to visit
The Odom Library where you will find information relevant to the eastern
seaboard of the United States and the migration routes west…plus the
priceless genealogical materials in Moultrie because of the Scottish
groups in the United States who have placed them here.