I Don’t Know About This!


Today we are going to Muse about Historical Trivia.  If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.

 Colored text is a link.  Clicking on the text will provide additional information about the subject.

You decide

Recently a friend sent me the following.  I double checked some of these and have found them to have substance.  There are a couple about which I am not certain.  You decide.

You Decide

You Decide


Did you know  the saying “God willing and the Creek don’t rise” was in reference to the Creek Indians and not a body of water?  It was written by Benjamin  Hawkins in the late 18th century.  He was a  politician and Indian diplomat.  While in the  south, Hawkins was requested by the President of  the U.S. to return to Washington .  In his  response, he was said to write, “God willing and  the Creek don’t rise.”  Because he  capitalized the word “Creek” it is deduced that he  was referring to the Creek Indian tribe and not a  body of water.

**************************** *****

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.’    (Artists know hands and arms are more difficult to  paint)

*********************** *******

As  incredible as it sounds, there were times in the past when 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 wealthy.

****************************** ***

In the late  1700′s, 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 lace..

*********************** **********

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 phrase  ‘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  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.   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.)

If you don’t  send this fabulous bit of historic knowledge to  any and all your unsuspecting friends,  your hard drive will kill your mouse.

More to come.

Fine Art America, a Pixel.com company

Pixel.com is producing reproductions of my artwork.  The work is available as traditional prints on canvas, paper or metal, but it also available on greeting cards, phone covers, tote bags, shower curtains,  t-shirts and more.  It makes for some very personalized gifts.  Below is the link to the site.  When you click on an image in the site,  a menu of products will appear.  I hope you like it.

           CLICK ON:  thomas-tribby.pixels.com

If you like Musings, take a moment and click the subscription button on the side-bar to the right so you will be notified by e-mail when I make a new post.


Books by Thomas L. Tribby Available
Click on title below to preview

Works on Paper

On The Waterfront

Impressions of Florida

Tribbyart’s Boutique


New Works at


Afternoon Mooring

Afternoon Mooring

Harbor Boats

Harbor Boats

Click to see

Intracoastal Mooring

Intracoastal Mooring

Click to See

For information about these or other original works of art, please feel free to contact us: 


About Thomas L. Tribby

Professional artist: painter, sculptor, print maker. Maintains a studio in West Palm Beach, Florida
This entry was posted in art and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to I Don’t Know About This!

  1. Leigh says:

    Very interesting!!


    Leigh Lombardi

  2. Leigh says:

    This is so beautiful!!

    And perfect timing, during this Christmas season.

    Love to you all,


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s