Light-hearted his­tor­i­cal trivia

The Weekly Vista - - Religion - GENE LINZEY

This sum­mer Carol and I are cel­e­brat­ing our 51st wed­ding an­niver­sary, and I de­cided that I need to “lighten up” … for at least a week. Also, I think hu­mor is ap­pro­pri­ate since Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheer­ful heart is good medicine, but a bro­ken spirit saps a per­son’s strength (NLT).” So, here is some light-hearted trivia that I found many years ago. As I first heard and read the state­ments, they were filled with in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion so I did a lit­tle “lookin’ up” to get as close to the truth as I could. Re­lax and en­joy life. Specif­i­cally, en­joy life as you live for the Lord.

Have you heard the say­ing “God will­ing and the creek don’t rise”? Some folk have a pic­ture of an un­cross­able stream or creek ris­ing dur­ing a tor­ren­tial down­pour. How­ever, there is one small er­ror in that quote. The state­ment was writ­ten by Ben­jamin Hawkins, a politi­cian and In­dian diplo­mat in the early 1800s. While on the job in the south, Hawkins was re­quested by Pres­i­dent Thomas Jef­fer­son to re­turn to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and give a re­port about what was hap­pen­ing. His re­sponse was, “God will­ing and the Creek don’t rise.” Be­cause he cap­i­tal­ized the word “Creek” it is de­duced that he was re­fer­ring to a po­ten­tial Creek In­dian up­ris­ing, 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. In fact, many paint­ings show peo­ple with arms or legs out of sight. That’s be­cause prices were based on how big the can­vas was, how many ob­jects (things and peo­ple) were to be painted, and by how many hands, arms, legs, and feet were to be painted. Arms and legs are more dif­fi­cult to paint, there­fore paint­ing them raised the price con­sid­er­ably. This is one prob­a­ble ori­gin of the ex­pres­sion, “It’ll cost you an arm and a leg.”

In cen­turies past, per­sonal hy­giene was not un­der­stood, and peo­ple didn’t bathe very of­ten which aided in the pro­fu­sion of lice. There­fore, many women and most men in the Euro­pean higher so­cial strata shaved their heads be­cause of lice and bugs, then wore wigs. This con­tin­ued in colo­nial Amer­ica — which, of course, was an ex­ten­sion of pri­mar­ily Bri­tish so­ci­ety. Wealthy and in­flu­en­tial peo­ple could af­ford more re­al­is­tic and larger wigs. To­day we still use the term “He’s a big wig” be­cause some­one ap­pears to be, or is, pow­er­ful and wealthy.

You might have heard var­i­ous sto­ries about the ori­gin of “chair­man of the board.” Well, some of the sto­ries are flakey, but this is prob­a­bly cor­rect. The word “chair” in­fers sit­ting in the chair, or seat of author­ity (at times, per­haps the only chair while oth­ers sat on benches), and “board” (as we know it) was first heard in the 13th cen­tury and means “ta­ble” — such as “God’s borde,” or “the Lord’s ta­ble.” A mother’s call to the fam­ily was: “Mi bord is maked. Cumed to borde.” — mean­ing, “The ta­ble is set [for a meal]. Come to the ta­ble.” Also, peo­ple pay a fee or rent for “room and board” — sleep­ing quar­ters and food at the ta­ble. So, chair­man of the board would be the per­son in charge at the ta­ble where busi­ness is con­ducted: be it church, in­dus­try, or gov­ern­ment.

Here’s one more.

In the naval bat­tle of Copen­hagen in 1801, Bri­tish Ad­mi­ral Ho­ra­tio Nel­son (who was blind in one eye) lead the at­tack against a joint Dan­ish/Nor­we­gian flotilla. The Bri­tish fleet was com­manded by Ad­mi­ral Sir Hyde Parker. Sens­ing de­feat, Parker sent a sig­nal for Nel­son to dis­en­gage, but Nel­son was con­vinced he could win if he per­sisted. In Clarke and M’Arthur’s bi­og­ra­phy, Life of Nel­son, pub­lished eight years later, they printed what they said was Nel­son’s ac­tual words at the time: [Putting the field glass to his blind eye] “You know, Fo­ley, I have only one eye — and I have a right to be blind some­times. I re­ally do not see the sig­nal.” So, turn­ing a blind eye to Ad­mi­ral Parker’s or­der, Nel­son pro­ceeded to de­feat the en­emy.

Thank you for read­ing, and I hope you have a pleas­ant week.

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