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Old Sayings And The Meanings Behind Them
Many years ago I would sit and listen to my parents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles talk about their youth and the ways they would have good times. Stories of pulling the truck up close to the house so they could hook the house radio up to the battery to listen to gospel or hillbilly music. Or cooking supper on a piece of scrap steel over a fire outside as it was too hot to fire up the wood stove in the kitchen. They would call these the "Good Old Days", sometimes with a reverent tone in their voice. Personally those old days never sounded that good to me. Interspersed in these conversations I would hear lines of wisdom repeated again and again over the years that sounded absolutely earth shattering in their importance, even though I had hardly a clue as to their meaning....
"Born with a silver spoon in your mouth."
Once when a child was christened it was traditional for the godparents to give a silver spoon as a gift (if they could afford it!). However a child born in a rich family did not have to wait. He or she had it all from the start. They were 'born with a silver spoon in their mouth'. (I think this really boiled down to envy of those who had it a little better than my immediate ancestors)
"What is the matter, got a frog in your throat?"
Medieval physicians believed that the secretions of a frog could cure a cough if they were coated on the throat of the patient. The frog was placed in the mouth of the suffer and remained there until the physician decided that the treatment was complete.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Oct/09/kit-hawken-pistol-fullstock-15-flint_1.jpg (parts to a Hawken pistol,1.flint'lock', bottom 2.stock, center 3.barrel, top.)
"Lock, stock and barrel"
The three major parts of a gun.
A thing in its entirety, with nothing omitted. As in "They wanted to sell the farm, lock, stock and barrel."
One of my all time favorites, one I'm sure even my old great relatives didn't know the origin of....
"Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey"
In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannon 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 thirty 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/rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey" with sixteen round indentations. But, if this plate was 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 cannon balls would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey!"
You probably remember when your older friends or relatives have come up with some zingers that made you wonder, "What the H@## is that old coot rambling on about now?"
Can you share them with us?