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(E) Trivia you most likely haven't heard of
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/16/2005 | Trivia | Unrated
(E) Trivia you most likely haven't heard of


Trivia you most likely haven't heard of

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. They couldn't wash the wigs, so to
clean them they would 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
In the late 1700s, many houses consisted of a large room with only
one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was
used for dining. The "head of the household" always sat in the chair
while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest,
who was usually 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. They
called the one sitting in the chair the "chair man." Today in business, we
use the expression or title "Chairman" or "Chairman of the Board."
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."
In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt
. .
. therefore, the expression "losing face."
Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and
dignified woman . as in "straight laced". . . wore a tightly tied
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
the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's
or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns,
pubs, and bars. They 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. However, 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 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.
However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls 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." (All
this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)
You must send this fabulous bit of historic knowledge to
unsuspecting friends. If you don't, your floppy is going to fall off your hard
drive and kill your mouse. "If you can read this, thank a teacher"
"If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier."

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