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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
Beth's Weekly Moultrie Observer Column - Week 55
(This appears here courtesy of The Moultrie Observer)

It’s really fun figuring out where expressions and phrases we use without thinking about them come from!

   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 emergencies!

    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 contests. 

   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 wages! 
   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.

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