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HISTORY OF SNOW GLOBES

You place the dome in your hand, turn it over and beautifully, magically the item inside is engulfed in a swirling slow-motion blizzard. Everyone can relate to them – evoking a childhood memory or nostalgia of a simpler time. The first mention of a snow globe featured a man with an umbrella displayed at the Paris Exposition of 1878. It was later suggested that the globes were created to commemorate the Tower’s inauguration.

This extremely rare LouisVuitton Eiffel Tower dome made of luggage is a whimsical example that sold for $995 in 2017.

A few years later, a Viennese man Edwin Perzy developed the same idea when researching a way to improve operating room light..He used a glass globe filled with water, hoping to create a magnifying lens by increasing refraction. To enhance the reflected light, Perzy put ground glass in the water. When it quickly sank, he tried semolina which floated slowly to the bottom of the globe. It did nothing to improve the light quality, but the snowfall inspired him to make his first snow globe: he carved a small house and inserted it into the globe.

Edwin Perzy

Facsimile of Perzy’s first globe used in Citizen Kane

Mass production began in the US during the 1920s. Joseph Garaja of Pittsburgh was granted a patent in 1927, which altered how snow globes were made. His method needed the spheres to be assembled underwater, removing any trapped air. This ingenious method made it possible for the industry to go into mass production, which drastically lowered the prices of globes.

However, by the early 1960s, glass snow globes had been overtaken by plastic Hong Kong-made globes. It was soon discovered that the water in their spheres was filthy, obtained directly from their port. As a result, a Hong Kong snow globe producer got into significant trouble and was temporarily barred from entering the United States.

The “snow” in snow globes has a fascinating backstory as well. Snow was previously created in glass domes using tiny porcelain, bone chips, or ground rice. Camphor/wax, as well as meerschaum, was also used to make these snowflakes. Today, most “snow” is tiny particles or shards of white plastic. Also, the liquid hasn’t always been water; at one point, light oil was used. In addition, glycol (antifreeze) was added to help with the problem of freezing during winter shipping.

The snow globe fell out of favor in the 1970’s when it epitomized kitsch –but have evolved into something more sophisticated, intricate and valued among designers and collectors. Novelty gift manufacturers have upgraded the designs and components making them unique gift items often including beautifully modelled landscapes.

Some incorporate lights, music and motors eliminating the need for shaking. Many high-end department stores introduce a custom design every year to commemorate the Christmas season.

Snow globes have become an increasingly popular collectible for both antique and novelty globes. Actor, Corbin Bernsen may be the most prolific collector with about 8,000 – he began collecting snow globes in the ‘80’s. “There’s something that happens to a collector, this internal voice that says, ‘I want to have one of each that is in existence,’” Bernsen says.

Corbin Bernsen

Originally the globes were made of glass and the figures inside were made of porcelain, bone, metals, minerals, rubber or wax. The snow or “flitter” as it’s called, could have been ground rice, wax, soap, sand, bone fragments, meerschaum, metal flakes or sawdust. Producers tried everything. The base was either round or square and may have been of stone, marble, ceramic or wood. Some are quite bizarre!!!

“Snow domes are not only fascinating to look at, to hold, to play with, they are folk art,” says collector Nancy McMichael, author of Snowdomes (Abbeville Press). “They are a bridge back to an idealized past we think existed but is actually in our head. It is something we carry with us.”

What Shall We Bake Today?

Pumpkin Pie is usually the chosen dessert for Thanksgiving dinner, but pumpkin roll is a wonderful alternate!

Cake

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

¾ cup flour

2 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup pumpkin

1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350*.  Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper.  Beat the 3 eggs with the cup of sugar.  Add the flour, cinnamon, pumpkin and the baking soda.  Mix well.

Spread onto wax paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake 10-15 minutes.   Cool slightly.  Turn onto terry towel sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Roll up like a jellyroll and let cool completely.

When cool, unroll and spread filling onto cake and roll back up.

Filling

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 Tbsp butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

Cream the cream cheese and the butter.  Add the powdered sugar.

Viola! Pumpkin Roll! 

Now if you’re interested in making a pumpkin roll with a little extra pizazz, check this out! (This is from the Sugar Hero website: http://www.sugarhero.com)

It’s created by using a template and a batter made of butter, egg whites, sugar and flour to pipe the gorgeous leaves in the jelly roll pan ahead of time.  (Full instructions can be found at their website.)  Then the pumpkin roll recipe proceeds as above.  The design bakes onto the pumpkin cake part and creates a beautiful presentation. 

Pardon Me

Two hundred years after George Washington issued the first presidential proclamation of a day of public thanksgiving, President George H.W. Bush stepped before reporters, 30 schoolchildren and one antsy 50-pound turkey in the White House Rose Garden on November 17, 1989. The public presentation of a plump gobbler to the chief executive in the lead-up to Thanksgiving had been a time-honored photo op since the 1940s, but Bush would add a new presidential tradition of his own. After noting that the turkey appeared “understandably nervous,” Bush added: “Let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy. He’s granted a presidential pardon as of right now.”

Decades later, the presidential turkey pardon remains an annual Thanksgiving ritual. However, while Bush formalized the fowl tradition, he may not have been the first president to issue a stay of execution to a turkey. A story is told that while Abraham Lincoln occupied the White House, his young son Tad grew so close to a turkey destined for Christmas dinner that he named him Jack and led him around on a leash like a pet. Listening to Tad’s pleas to spare the turkey from his culinary fate, the Great Emancipator granted a reprieve and freed the bird.

A decade later during the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant, Rhode Island poultry dealer Horace Vose began to send plump turkeys to the White House for Thanksgiving dinners. Although a staunch Republican, Vose was non-partisan when it came to turkeys. He sent birds to presidents of both parties until his death in 1913. Beginning in 1946, a pair of poultry industry groups—the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board—assumed the duties of presenting presidents with turkeys for the holidays. That year, the groups delivered a 42-pound Texas tom to President Harry Truman for Christmas.

While Truman began the ritual of appearing with the gift turkeys in staged photo ops, he is erroneously credited with starting the presidential pardon tradition. The misinformation is so prevalent that the Truman Library has issued a statement on its web site that its staff “has found no documents, speeches, newspaper clippings, photographs, or other contemporary records in our holdings which refer to Truman pardoning a turkey that he received as a gift in 1947, or at any other time during his Presidency.”

In fact, not only did the turkeys given to Truman and some of his successors fail to receive clemency, they suffered a much different fate by ending up on the presidential dinner table. In 1948 Truman told reporters that the turkeys given to him “would come in handy” for the 25 people expected for dinner at his Independence, Missouri, home that Christmas. Ten days before Thanksgiving in 1953, National Turkey Federation president Roscoe Hill presented a live 39-pound turkey to President Dwight Eisenhower, who hoped Hill would kill, freeze and return the gobbler to the White House “in plenty of time because I hope to spend Thanksgiving with my youngsters and I want to take him along.”

A president finally took pity on a gifted bird in 1963 when John F. Kennedy spared the life of a mammoth 55-pound white turkey wearing a sign around its neck—clearly not of its own volition—that read “Good Eating, Mr. President!” “We’ll just let this one grow,” Kennedy said with a grin. “It’s our Thanksgiving present to him.” As the president left the Rose Garden on November 19, 1963, the turkey prepared for its return to a California farm while Kennedy finalized preparations for his fateful trip to Dallas three days later.

Although newspapers in 1963 reported that “Merciful President Pardons Turkey,” the first president to actually use the word “pardon” at the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation may have been Ronald Reagan, albeit as a quip. During the throes of the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987, Reagan sidestepped reporters’ questions about whether he planned to pardon any of his aides accused of wrongdoing. When then asked about the fate of the 55-pound turkey he was just given, Reagan joked, “I’ll pardon him.”

Although the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate (sent in case the primary turkey can’t fulfill its duties—mainly, staying alive to make it to the presentation ceremony) now receive stays of execution, their remaining days do not last too long. The skeletons and organs of turkeys bred for consumption are incapable of supporting extreme weights, and most of the reprieved turkeys die prematurely within the following year.

Source: history.com

The First Thanksgiving Feast

(I went in search of what the Pilgrims ate at the first Thanksgiving and came across this article by Mark Fleming at the newengland.com website.)

The Thanksgiving meal is remarkably consistent in its elements: the turkey, the stuffing, the sweet potatoes, the cranberry sauce. Barring ethical, health, or religious objections, it is pretty much the same meal for everyone, around the country, and through the years of their lives. We stick with the basics and simply change the seasonings.

But what about that first Thanksgiving in the fall of 1621 (historians don’t know the exact date, but place it sometime between September 21 and November 9), when British settlers hosted the first documented harvest celebration? What did they eat at the first Thanksgiving, and how similar is it to the traditional American Thanksgiving meal today?

Here’s how Edward Winslow described the first Thanksgiving feast in a letter to a friend:

“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

What They (Likely) Did Have at the First Thanksgiving

  • Venison
  • Fowl (geese and duck)
  • Corn
  • Nuts (walnuts, chestnuts, beechnuts)
  • Shellfish

So venison was a major ingredient, as well as fowl, but that likely included geese and ducks. Turkeys are a possibility, but were not a common food in that time. Pilgrims grew onions and herbs. Cranberries and currants would have been growing wild in the area, and watercress may have still been available if the hard frosts had held off, but there’s no record of them having been served. In fact, the meal was probably quite meat-heavy.

Likewise, walnuts, chestnuts, and beechnuts were abundant, as were sunchokes. Shellfish were common, so they probably played a part, as did beans, pumpkins, squashes, and corn (served in the form of bread or porridge), thanks to the Wampanoags.

It’s possible, but unlikely, that there was turkey at the first Thanksgiving.

What They (Definitely) Did Not Have at the First Thanksgiving

  • A turkey centerpiece
  • Potatoes (white or sweet)
  • Bread stuffing or pie (wheat flour was rare)
  • Sugar
  • Aunt Lena’s green bean casserole

But how about bringing a little more truly traditional flavor back to your table? Back in 2003, we consulted with historians at Plimoth Plantation, the Wampanoag and English settlers living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and asked writer Jane Walsh to devise a menu that incorporated some of the foods that would have been served at the first Thanksgiving. We didn’t eliminate any favorites or try to go sugar-free. We skipped the venison. Really, like everyone else who will gather around a table on the fourth Thursday in November this year, we simply changed the seasonings.

Thanksgiving Recipes | Tradition with a Twist

Watercress-Currant Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Stuffing of Jerusalem Artichokes, Currants, and Grapes
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with Sweet Walnut Crust

Historically-Inspired Thanksgiving Recipes

The Wampanoag and English settlers may not have had access to all of the ingredients included in these recipes, but by including pheasant, goose, or venison in your Thanksgiving menu, you’re at least paying tribute to a meat they likely enjoyed back in 1621. Chestnuts and native corn were common, too. Here are a few dishes to get you further inspired — both reader-submitted and from the Yankee recipe archives.

Venison Tenderloin
Roast Goose
Chestnut Croquettes
New England Succotash

This post was first published in 2012 and has been updated.

We Need to Talk…

Are there any more chilling words than those on the planet?  Sigh…but sometimes it’s inevitable…so here goes.  Dr…uh…Mrs…First Lady…oh whatever…Jill, we NEED to talk.  There may be people surrounding the current…uh…your husband…who insist he remain in office sedated with drugs and ice cream in spite of evidence that he can no longer function cognitively.  We can all see that, and perhaps you do not have control over that aspect of things at present.  But there is something you DO have control of at the present time and that needs to be addressed post haste.  Your wardrobe.

Maybe someone along the campaign trail complimented your floral outfit and you took that to heart and ran with it.  Word of advice: STOP RUNNING!  It’s not a good look…

To be fair, you did try solids…sigh, another failure.  Perhaps maybe wear a bra…and something not so tight.  (whispering: you are no longer the sweet young thing sitting on Joe’s lap)

My goodness! And the footwear!!  This is the definition of CRINGE.

Admittedly, a former fashion model is a lot easier to dress in any type of clothing…

and yellow is NOT a color for everybody…

But a First Lady should complement her husband, be a strong partner, and champion her own cause. She should not overwhelm, but she should also not fade into the wallpaper or dress like upholstery.  It just makes her a target.

Meerkats

There are few animals on Earth who work as well together as meerkats. These squirrel-size members of the mongoose family live in groups of different sizes, from as little as three to as big as 50 members. Everyone in the mob participates in gathering food, keeping a look out for predators and taking care of the babies.

Meerkats live in the deserts and grasslands of the southern tip of Africa. They are super cute, with bushy, brown-striped fur, a small, pointed face and large eyes surrounded by dark patches. These extremely social animals live together in burrows, which they dig with their long, sharp claws. Living underground keeps mob members safe from predators and out of the harsh African heat. These burrows contain multiple entrances, tunnels, and rooms. A group will use up to five separate burrows at a time.

Meerkats only go outside during the daytime. Each morning, as the sun comes up, the mob emerges and begins looking for food. They use their keen sense of smell to locate their favorite foods, which include beetles, caterpillars, spiders and scorpions. They’ll also eat small reptiles, birds, eggs, fruit and plants. Back at the burrow, several babysitters stay behind to watch over newborn pups. This duty rotates to different members of the mob, and a sitter will often go all day without food. The babysitters” main job is to protect pups from meerkats in rival mobs who, if given the chance, will kill the babies.

While the rest of the mob forages for food, one of the meerkats (or sometimes more), called a sentry, will find a high point, like a termite mound, and perch on its back legs. From here it scans the sky and desert for predators such as eagles, hawks and jackals. A sentry who senses danger will let out a high-pitched squeal, sending the mob scrambling for cover.

Meerkats dig safe places called bolt holes throughout their foraging area, where they can hide in an emergency. But if caught in the open by a predator, a meerkat will try to look fierce, lying on its back and showing its teeth and claws. If a group is confronted, the meerkats will stand together, arching their backs, raising their hair and hissing. This sometimes fools an attacker into thinking they are a single large, vicious animal.

The Gratitude List

The other evening, on an episode of Last Man Standing, Tim Allen’s wife, Vanessa was discussing her favorite Thanksgiving tradition—the gratitude list.  She encouraged everyone in her family to add items (big or small) to the list—anything they were grateful for.  They would then share the list before they enjoyed their Thanksgiving meal. I was inspired to do the same.

As I sat to make my list, at first it seemed daunting—the country is a mess!  Inflation, corruption, rampant crime, impending nuclear war!  Sigh…not much to be grateful for there. So, I took a deep calming breath and started again.  This time I forced myself to look beyond all that mess and saw a veritable cornucopia of wonderous things to be grateful for.

There are the BIG THINGS…

            There is God.

            There is my husband.

            There is my family.

            There is my home.

There are my friends…

            Friends who make me laugh.

            Friends who inspire me.

            Friends who share their stories and listen to mine.

            Friends who keep me sane.

There are daily indulgences…

            Like smelling fresh cut grass, bacon frying, and cinnamon buns baking.

            Like hearing a child laugh, and the words I love you whispered in my ear.

            Like leaves changing colors, babies smiling, and bolts of colorful fabric.

            Like tasting freshly grilled steak, sweet watermelon or my hubby’s coffee.

And then there’s politics…

            I’m grateful Nancy Pelosi is not twins.

            I’m grateful Joe Biden spends so much time away from Washington.

            I’m grateful Hillary Clinton did not win in 2016.

            I’m grateful Donald J. Trump is an America First fighter!!

The Snow Charts

November is a month steeped with traditions and family activities.  One of my favorite traditions involved the Snow Charts.  As I mentioned before, the kids were always apprehensive when the snow started to fly, because their father had to travel down the mountain road we lived on at that time.  One snowy day in early November, I kept them busy making Christmas gifts for their grandmothers while we waited for my husband to call and say he arrived safely at work.

(The craft itself was a measuring stick for the yard, sort of like this…)

As we painted the pieces, we began to speculate about the coming winter and what they hoped would be a great amount of snowfall…and the idea of the snow charts was born.  One child would be responsible for the Snow Depth Chart.  The premise was simple.  To win the prize, you had to be the most accurate predictor of how much snow we got at the house for the winter season.  At dinner that night, my husband helped them determine the optimal place to put the measuring yardstick.  The child who made this chart was responsible for accurately measuring the snow in the yard at that point and entering it on the chart. They also had to record on the chart everyone’s guess at what the final amount would be.

The other child would be responsible for the Snow Frequency Chart, which would maintain and record the number of storms and our predictions of when the largest snowfall of the season would occur.  Naturally we had to vote on the rules, such as only storms dumping an inch or more of snow would be counted and the guess for when the largest snowfall occurred was expanded to a week and not a day. The responsibilities would switch every year and the kids were encouraged to make their charts as artistic as they could.   And there were additional prizes, of course.  The competition grew increasingly fierce as the kids got older, because they no longer coveted a $5 prize—they lobbied instead for Get-out-of chores FREE cards and longer curfews…LOL

Plimoth Plantation

I was researching the web for details about the first Thanksgiving and came across this website for an Inn (The Captain’s Manor Inn) that advertises for the Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts:

Travel back in time to the 1620’s at one of the country’s most popular living history museums: Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA!

We’ve all heard the legends of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock and the first Thanksgiving. Now you can learn the real stories – and so much more – behind one of America’s first settlements. Plimoth Plantation offers an immersive recreation of a 17th-century English Village.

The living history museum recreates 7 and a half months of 1627 every year. The exhibit includes actors portraying historical residents in a painstakingly researched and reconstructed environment. Even the livestock are heritage breeds.

The museum has been in operation since 1947 and includes a colonial village with a fort, water-powered mill, and barns. You can also visit a Wampanoag village and a replica of the Mayflower! Best of all, it’s all just a little over a half-hour’s drive from our Falmouth bed and breakfast, The Captain’s Manor Inn!

Exploring Plimoth

When you visit the 17th-Century English Village at Plimoth Plantation, you’ll feel as if you’ve tumbled through a hole in time. The careful attention to detail and character is completely immersive and truly stunning. You have to experience it to believe it!

The village is filled with modest timber-framed houses and costumed, accented role-players. The homes and many characters you meet represent historical residents of Plymouth Colony. The homes have thatched roofs and include typical furnishings of the time, gardens, and functioning kitchens. Don’t be surprised to discover a pot bubbling away on the fire.

Costumed interpreters act as your intermediary, explaining daily village life and answering any questions you might have. The two-story fort guarding the entrance to the village provides an excellent view of the surrounding area and is a great place for a photo.

Barns at the plantation are home to historic breeds of cows, goats, sheep, chickens, and turkeys. In fact, Plimoth Plantation is part of a global effort to save these old and endangered breeds.

Wampanoag Homesite

The plantation is also home to a recreation of a Wampanoag Homesite that was in the area at the time.

The homesite includes traditional “wetu” huts made of wattle and daub. Staff at the Homesite wear traditional Wampanoag dress. They also demonstrate time honored crafts and activities, such as baking cornmeal cakes wrapped in grape leaves in the embers of a fire.

Unlike the actors at the English Village, however, the staff here are not role-players. Instead, these real indigenous people speak from a modern perspective about their tribe’s history and culture.

The Mayflower II

While in the area, you can also visit the Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the ship the Pilgrims sailed to Plymouth in 1620. The Mayflower II was built in Devon, England in the 1950’s. The faithful replica includes solid oak timbers, tarred hemp rigging, and hand-colored maps.

The ship is just a short drive away in Plymouth Harbor, near Pilgrim Memorial State Park. You’ll marvel at how over 100 people managed to live in this tiny space at sea for more than 10 weeks!

The Mayflower II has been away for restoration but will return to Plymouth Harbor in time for the 400th anniversary during Memorial Day Weekend, 2020.

The plantation is located on Warren Avenue in Plymouth, MA and is open 9am to 5pm seasonally, from mid-March through the end of November.

Source:

The Captain’s Manor Inn

Etymology, Part 3: Common Sayings

TAKES THE CAKE: The phrase “takes the cake” comes from the cake walks that were popular in the late 19th century. Couples would strut around gracefully and well-attired, and the couple with the best walk would win a cake as a prize. Interestingly, cake walk was soon used to describe something that could be done very easily, and it’s very possible that from there we get the phrase “piece of cake.”

PARTING SHOT: A parting shot, which is a final insult tossed out at the end of a fight when you assume it’s over, was originally a Parthian shot. The Parthians, who lived in an ancient kingdom called Parthia, had a strategy whereby they would pretend to retreat, then their archers would fire shots from horseback. Parthian sounds enough like parting, and, coupled with the fact that not a lot of people knew who the Parthians were, the phrase was changed to parting shot.

DEAD AS A DOORNAIL: One could certainly argue that a doornail was never alive, but when a doornail is dead, it has actually been hammered through a door, with the protruding end hammered and flattened into the door so that it can never come loose or be removed or used again. The phrase “dead as a doornail” has actually been around since the 14th century, about as long as the word doornail has officially been in the English language.

DOWN TO BRASS TACKS: “There are many theories about what “down to brass tacks” means, including that brass tacks is rhyming slang for hard facts. But it’s very likely that the brass tacks being mentioned here are actual brass tacks. Merchants used to keep tacks nailed into their counters to use as guides for measuring things, so to get down to brass tacks would be you were finally done deciding what you wanted and were ready to cut some fabric and do some actual business.

IT’S GREEK TO ME: “The phrase “it’s Greek to me” is often attributed to Shakespeare, but it’s been around since well before his time. An earlier version of the phrase can be found written in Medieval Latin translations, saying “Graecum est; non potest legi,” or “it’s Greek. Cannot be read.”

SMART ALEC: “You may have presumed the Alec in “smart Alec” was just a name that sounded good preceded by the word smart, but that’s not necessarily the case. Professor Gerald Cohen suggested in his book”Studies in Slang” that the original smart Alec was Alexander Hoag, a professional thief who lived and robbed in New York City in the 1840s. Hoag was a very clever criminal who worked with his wife and two other policemen to pickpocket and rob people. He was eventually busted when he decided to stop paying the cops.

HEARD IT THRU THE GRAPEVINE: “The grapevine people hear things through is a grapevine telegraph, which was the nickname given to the means of spreading information during the Civil War as a kind of wink at an actual telegraph. The grapevine telegraph is just a person-to-person exchange of information, and much like when you play a game of telephone, it’s best to presume that the information you receive has gone through a few permutations since it was first shared.

CAT’S OUT OF THE BAG: “Farmers used to stick little suckling pigs in bags to take them to market. But if a farmer was trying to rip somebody off, they would put a cat in the bag instead. So, if the cat got out of the bag, everybody was onto their ruse, which is how we use the phrase today, just not quite so literally. (We hope.)

OUT OF WACK: “Today, “out of whack” means not quite right, but it took a long time to get there. Whack appeared in the 18th century as a word that meant to strike a blow when used as a verb. The noun whack was the blow that was whacked on something. But whack also grew to mean portion or share, especially as loot that was being split by criminals. From there, whack grew to mean an agreement, as in the agreed share of loot, but it also meant in good order. If something was behaving as it was intended to, it was “in fine whack.” Eventually the opposite fell into common usage, and something that wasn’t in good shape was “out of whack.”

KIBOSH: “Evidence of kibosh dates the word to only a few years before Charles Dickens used it in an 1836 sketch, but despite kibosh being relatively young in English its source is elusive. Another hypothesis pointed to Irish caidhp bhais, literally, coif (or cap) of death, explained as headgear a judge put on when pronouncing a death sentence, or as a covering pulled over the face of a corpse when a coffin was closed. Today, “to put the kibosh on something” is to shut it down.

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE: “Some people think that the phrase “between a rock and a hard place” is a kind of sloppy reference to Odysseus. But in 1921, the phrase became a popular means of describing when miners had to choose between dangerous work for little or no money or definite poverty during the Great Bankers’ Panic of 1907.

GOT UP ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE BED: “The generally accepted origin of the phrases “get up on the wrong side of the bed” and wake up on the wrong side of the bed is ancient Rome, where superstition was rampant. Ancient philosophers equated the right side of anything as the positive side, and the left side of anything as the sinister or negative side. The story says that Romans always exited the bed on the right side in order to start the day in contact with positive forces. If one rose on the left side of the bed, he started the day in contact with negative forces.

MAD AS A HATTER: “The expression is linked to the hat-making industry and mercury poisoning. In the 18th and 19th centuries, industrial workers used a toxic substance, mercury nitrate, as part of the process of turning the fur of small animals, such as rabbits, into felt for hats. Workplace safety standards often were lax and prolonged exposure to mercury caused employees to develop a variety of physical and mental ailments, including tremors (dubbed “hatter’s shakes”), speech problems, emotional instability and hallucinations.