Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘Tuscaloosa News’

That’s How The Cookie Crumbles

Posted by Elyse Bruce on June 30, 2015

When life happens and you can’t change or control the outcome, you have no other option than to accept the outcome and live with the results.  At this point, people will sometimes tell you that’s the way the cookie crumbles.  The British may say such is life while the French may say c’est la vie, but for most of us, we say that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

While some don’t worry sweat the small stuff like cookies crumbling, some are so focused on getting to the cause or causes that they devote serious research to the subject.  Such was the case back in 2003 when a PhD student from Loughborough University decided it was high time the mystery was solved.  Thanks to his work being published in the Institute of Physics journal “Measurement, Science, and Technology” others who pondered the same question were now able to read the data in Qasim Saleem’s research paper, “A Novel Application Of Speckle Interferometry For The Measurement Of Strain Distributions In Semi-Sweet Biscuits.”

So while bakers have known the answer for generations, since 2003, scientists have also been privy to that answer.  And no, I’m not pranking you, dear reader.

It was on April 5, 1990 that the Spokane Chronicle announced that a Girl Scout in Bend, Oregon had been the victim of a con artist.  A counterfeit $5 bill was passed to the Girl Scout who had been selling cookies outside a local K-Mart store the previous Sunday.  The article was entitled, “That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles” … a rather mean headline for such a story in light of the fact that this story was about an unethical adult victimizing a child.

The Girl Scouts seem to have gotten more than just a little attention with that headline for other related stories.  The Bryan Times reported on January 24, 1984 that in Tennessee they would expected to collect sales taxes on the cookies they were selling and to remit the amount collected beginning in 1985.  In previous years, the Girl Scouts had failed to collected sales taxes on cookie sales.  As with the story in 1990, the story in 1984 was entitled, “That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles.”

And in the Tuscaloosa News in Alabama, a little news story tucked into the April 10, 1969 edition mentioned that in Detroit (Michigan), after already having spent thirteen months in jail awaiting trial, Fred Jackson would continue to cool his heels in jail because he couldn’t post the $10,000 USD bond required to make bail.  Because of overcrowded dockets and undermanned courtrooms, Fred Jackson’s trial had been postponed five times.  Finally, it was reported that the trial was slated for the following Monday.  Charged with having stolen five boxes of cookies, the article was entitled, “That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles.”

You’d imagine that the word cookies has been around nearly as long as cookies have been, but you’d mistaken if you believe that.  You see, the Dutch word for a little cake is koekje (pronounced the way you’d pronounce cookie in English) and the word was adopted by the British in 1703.   And you’d imagine that shortly after the word was incorporated into English, that the phrase would show up shortly thereafter.  But it seems that the crumbliness of cookies wasn’t a topic of discussion among most people in the 18th century.

In the fiction book “The Knute Rockne Kid” by Frank J. Bruno, the expression is used in the dialogue in Chapter 48 that recounts a situation that happened in the hospital on December 11, 1948.  In this part of the book, Mario Calvino (the protagonist of the novel) and Norm Cooper (the antagonist that eventually becomes his friend) are talking.

Tears were flowing down my cheeks.
“Come on, sap.  What are you feeling miserable about?”
“I feel like it’s all my fault.”
“Again, Mario, you’re full of shit.  All you did was pass the ball and place it where it was supposed to be.  I caught it and ran for the touchdown.  What else were you supposed to do?  What else was I supposed to do?”
“Nothing.”
“That’s right.  We both did the right thing.  It’s just the way the cookie crumbles.”
As he was talking, I noticed, or imagined that I noticed, his jaw moved mechanically and stiffly, like the jaw of a ventriloquist’s dummy.  It dawned on me that Norm was using a massive amount of willpower to retain his composure.  He was showing to me that he was a human being with great character and courage.

However, this book was published in 2015, and the use of the expression in this book doesn’t necessarily prove that it was in use in 1948.

The good news is that on November 17, 1958 a country & western song recorded by Johnnie and Jack for the RCA Victor label was making ripples according to Billboard magazine was entitled, “Poison Love.”  On the B side was “That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles.”

So we know that fans of country & western music were familiar with the idiom in the fifties.

Slightly more than thirty years earlier, in 1927, American actor, playwright, screenwriter, and producer, Edward Bartlett Cormack (19 March 1898 – 26 September 1942) wrote a play entitled, “The Racket” that was also made into a film by the same name the following year.  The movie was one of the first to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1929 back when it was still called “Best Picture, Production.”

SIDE NOTE:  The play and movie were banned in Chicago because of the portrayal of a corrupt police force, a corrupt city government, and the gangsters who controlled both the police force and the city government.  Keep in mind that during this time period, Al Capone and his organization were an integral part of Chicago’s workings.

The movie used more idioms than Carter has little liver pills, and that’s the way the cookie crumbles slipped in alongside others like ‘his goose is cooked‘ and ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’

At this point, the trail went cold, and Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published version of this idiom.  However, because it was used in “The Racket” in 1928, it was expected that the moving picture audience would understand what was meant.  Idiomation therefore pegs the idiom to sometime in the early 1920s or late 1910s.

Idiomation would have loved to pinpoint the very first published version of this idiom, but as the saying goes, sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles.

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Water Under The Bridge

Posted by Elyse Bruce on July 24, 2013

Whenever you hear someone say it’s all water under the bridge, it’s just another way of saying that a problem or unpleasant situation has been addressed, and is best left in the past. Yes, whatever the problem was, it’s considered by everyone to be forgiven and, quite possibly, forgotten as well. So whenever you hear those words, you can be at peace knowing that whatever event you’re agonizing over is no longer an issue for all parties involved.

Back on May 12, 2011, The Libertines frontman, Carl Barat was quoted in the Glasgow, Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper as saying that a band reunion wasn’t in the cards for fans of the band. It had everything to do with the bad blood between Pete Doherty and himself. In the interview, he added:

We are all in very different places. Right now is not the time for The Libertines. I thought the water under the bridge was under the bridge, bug may it’s not. It’s a very hard thing. Every time we talk, it just brings it back up.

The expression was used in Vadim Bytensky’s book “Journey From St. Petersburg” published in 2007 by AuthorHouse. The book told the story of how the author returned to Russia in the 1990s, and witnessed how everything had changed since he had last seen it in 1975. At one point in the author’s story, he has this to say on page 128:

He spoke Russian with a Japanese accent. I played around with Japanese like a child playing with bricks. It was a most absorbing occupation, although unfortunately it lasted for only one year. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and my knowledge of Japanese has also evaporated — after all, who in Toronto needs a non-Japanese to translate from that language?

An uncomfortable situation in American history had to do with Watergate, and when the Gettysburg Times newspaper published a story entitled, “President Grilled By Press On Watergate; Will Not Resign; Would Get On With Business” back on August 23, 1973, it was obvious how uncomfortable the situation was. The story indicated that whenever the matter of Watergate cropped up, Richard Nixon deflected with comments that steered reporters in the direction of who the new Secretary of State and other such things. The story began with this paragraph:

Declaring that Watergate is “water under the bridge,” and giving explanations that conceded no personal negligence, Richard Nixon responded Wednesday for the first time in five months to direct questions about the scandal that has shaken his presidency.

Back on September 21, 1931 the Editorial of the Day in the Tuscaloosa News had everything to do with the Long no-cotton plan that was dead, as forecast in the Montgomery Advertiser 10 days earlier. There had been a number of opponents to the plan from Governor Long of Louisiana, and many Texans saw the plan as an attempt to boss Texans around. The editorial stated in part:

Had the Long plan been good, Long would have killed it in Texas. But all of this water under the bridge. The fact is that the no-cotton law of Louisiana will not be adopted by the other States, notwithstanding that on yesterday the Senate of the South Carolina Legislature voted to enact it. It is plainly unthinkable that the other cotton States should adopt the Louisiana law now that Texas, the greatest producing State, has rejected it.

The idiom has the same meaning as the older version known as water over the dam.

In fact, the New York Times published an article about the Mexican situation (as it was referred to at the time) on December 20, 1919. The issue of the cost of maintaining a border patrol of regular and National Guard troops to protect the Us border (at a cost of $1,000,000,000 since in the years since Madero had started Mexico on the revolutionary road back in 1911) was foremost in people’s minds. Among those interviewed was James S. Black, editor of the El Paso Times, who was quoted in the news story as saying:

But that is all water over the dam. What has been done cannot be undone, but the Administration might profit by the mistakes of the past. Mexico and Mexicans will respect American and their property once they are convinced the United States means business.

A few dictionaries claim that the expression water over the dam is American slang from the 1840s, however, Idiomation was unable to find any proof to support the claim.

However, because the expression was used in a published news article in 1919, it was obviously a common expression that was as easily understood in El Paso as in New York, and back dating it a generation, this pegs the expression to at least 1890. It’s possible that it goes back two generations, which would place it to sometime in the 1860s. But without proof, it’s difficult to guess that it goes back yet another generation (although it may very well go back to the 1840s).

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Fly By The Seat Of Your Pants

Posted by Elyse Bruce on May 10, 2011

To fly by the seat of your pants is pretty tricky especially since it means you’re doing something difficult without the necessary experience or ability to achieve success.  The phrase comes from back in the day when airplanes — being very basic without all the fancy gadgetry planes have today — were flown by pilots who reacted to the feel of the plane.

Naturally, the part of the body that had the most contact with the plane was the aviator’s backside.  The phrase flying by the seat of your pants came to mean how pilots flew planes which was to react to how the plane felt to the pilots in such situations as determining wind speed, external temperature and the state of the plane the pilot was flying.  Sometimes pilots were unable to see while they were flying because of cloud or fog, and that’s when flying by the seat of their pants as well as instinctively really paid off since instruments of the day oftentimes gave faulty readings.

Over time, the phrase has been used to refer to a number of things or situations as evidenced by the article “Pies-N-Thighs Returns!” in the Village Voice newspaper of April 20, 2010 which read in part:

Yet, in addition to excellent chicken, something about the place struck a romantic chord with diners, evocative of Williamsburg’s can-do, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants spirit at the time, and it quickly became one of the neighborhood’s most beloved dining establishments. The place was closed by the Department of Health in January 2008, and since then fans have collectively held their breath, fearing that the owners — Sarah Buck, Carolyn Bane, and Erika Geldzahler — would chicken out, and never reopen.

During World War II, the Tuscaloosa News ran an interesting article on April 23, 1944 entitled, “Flying Taught Without Flight” written by James F. Strebig, Aviation Editor for the Associated Press.  The article began with this:

A training device by which student-pilots can learn to fly safely without leaving the ground has been developed for use after the war.  John H. Geisse of the Civil Aeronautics Administration research staff, who fathered the development, says it’s the only training machine for teachings “flying by the seat of your pants.”

And on July 19, 1942 the Pittsburgh Press quoted 25-year-old St. Louis Brown infielder and former Army Air Corps flyers Johnny Berardino as saying:

“There’s an old Army saying that you’ve got to be able to fly by the seat of your pants.  I don’t know  just what that means.  Something about being sensitive to pressure changes there.  I didn’t have it.”  You can hardly criticize Johnny Berardino for that.  He doesn’t play baseball that way either.

Many claim that the phrase dates back to 4 years earlier on July 19, 1938 and the  Edwardsville Intelligencer newspaper article, “Corrigan Flies By The Seat  Of His Pants.”   Douglas Corrigan of infamous ‘Wrong Way  Corrigan’ fame had submitted his flight plan to fly from Brooklyn to California.  Rather than wind up in California, he wound up in Dublin 29 hours after taking flight.  He claimed that his compasses had failed him but rumours were rampant that it had been a purposeful miscalculation on the part of the aviator.  The article read in part:

“Douglas Corrigan was described as an aviator ‘who flies by the seat of his pants‘ today by a mechanic who helped him rejuvinate the plane which airport men have now nicknamed the ‘Spirit of $69.90’. The old flying expression of  “flies by the seat of his trousers” was explained by Larry Conner, means going aloft without instruments, radio or other such luxuries.”

The expression is probably a little older than that.  Even though Leonardo da Vinci made the first real studies of flight in the 1480’s and catalogued the over 100 drawings illustrating his theories on flight, it was the Wright brothers who were the first to fly in 1903.  It’s safe to say that they flew by the seat of their pants.

However, it’s also quite possible that brothers Joseph Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier, the inventors of the first hot air balloon, may also have been somewhat responsible for the phrase when they and their passengers Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent took to the skies on November 21, 1783.

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Dressed To The Nines

Posted by Elyse Bruce on April 7, 2011

When someone is dressed to the nines the world knows he or she is so well-dressed that the person is wearing very fashionable or expensive clothes,  and nothing has been overlooked.  This person is the picture of perfection in every sense of the word.

Many of us learned in elementary school that multiplying any number by nine creates a mirror symmetry among numbers. If any number is multiplied by nine, the resulting digits always add to nine. What’s more, the digital root of any multiple of 9 is also 9.

The Tuscaloosa News ran a news story by journalist Bill Rose entitled, “President’s Wife Makes Gamblers Help” on May 2, 1949 that read in part:

I had prepared several questions on veltpolitik that I wanted to put to her, but for the first ten minutes of the interview, I might as well have been on Sixth Avenue.  Eleanor, as luck and 17 charge accounts would have it, was dressed to the nines, and the tactful Evita complimented her on her dress.

On April 15, 1908 the Melbourne Evening Post reported on what they referred to as a “sensational scene at the Treasury” by the unemployed of Melbourne (Australia) who, led by Mr. P.M. Koonin, tried to force their way into the Premier’s office. The news story read in part:

When he was informed that they had gone he remarked, “I told them that if they did not go they would be arrested.  If they went out it is all right.  While I went out into the passage with the Minister of Lands these men were there dressed up to the nines.  The place seemed to be full.”

Dressed to the nines as it pertains to being dressed is found cited in John C. Hotten’s “A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words” published in 1859:

DRESSED UP TO THE NINES:  in a showy ‘recherché’ manner.

Robert Burns wrote “Poem On Pastoral Poetry” in 1791 and spoke thusly about Mother Nature in all her beauty:

Thou paints auld Nature to the nines,
In thy sweet Caledonian lines;
Nae gowden stream thro’ myrtle twines,
Where Philomel,
While nightly breezes sweep the vines,
Her griefs will tell!

In 1719, in William Hamilton’s book, “Epistle to Ramsay” the following is found:

The bonny Lines therein thou sent me
How to the nines they did content me.

In the 1687 book entitled, “The Poetick Miscellenies of Mr. John Rawlett” these lines are found:

The learned tribe whose works the World do bless
Finish those works in some recess;
Both the Philosopher and Divine,
And Poets most who still make their address
In private to the Nine.

The reference to the nines in this instance are the Nine Worthies of Pagan and Jewish history and are comprised of the following historical figures who were perceived as being the personification of all that was noble and heroic:  Hector, Alexander, Julius Caesar , Joshua, David, Judas Maccabaeus, King Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillion.

The earliest reference of “to the nines” appears in a translation of Voyages de Jehan de Mandeville chevalier, from France circa 1357.  The expression is attributed to Sir John Mandeville who, in the English translation, is found to make this comment:

Sir king! ye shall have war without peace, and always to the nine degree, ye shall be in subjection of your enemies, and ye shall be needy of all goods.

While the expression may not be about clothing, it certainly addressed being decked out to the utmost.

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Shotgun Wedding

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 29, 2010

Rumour has it that Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII had a shotgun wedding in 1532.  And records show that it’s very likely that William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway had a shotgun wedding as their daughter, Susanna, was christened just 6 months after their wedding.

On October 30, 1667, it was recorded in Plymouth Colony court records that America’s first shotgun wedding was between Mary Alden and Thomas Delano, the son of Philip Delanoye, one of the original settlers of Duxbury, Massachusetts.  The groom was fined ten pounds “for having carnal copulation with his now wife before marriage.”  The judge who meted out punishment was John Alden, Thomas’s father-in-law and neighbour.

And then there’s the story of one William Marion who, along with John Cameron, went on a trip to Kansas in May 1872 to visit Marion’s in-laws. After a few days, Marion returned home alone to Nebraska. Eleven years passed and a boy allegedly wearing clothing identified as Cameron’s was found walking about. Marion was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to be executed for murder.

Though he was given a new trial due to lack of sentencing by a jury, a new jury convicted him as well and he was allegedly killed on March 25, 1887 by firing squad.  Oddly enough though, in 1891, four years after the execution, Cameron turned up alive and well.  He explained that he had run away to Mexico to avoid a shotgun wedding. Marion was pardoned six years later in 1897.

The New York Times ran a review on February 23, 1928 of a play entitled “Rope” by David Wallace and T.S. Stribling, and based on a novel by T.S. Stribling.  The reviewer, J. Brooks Atkinson reported that the duo had “fashioned a stirring melodrama Rope mounted at the Biltmore last evening.”  Mr. Atkinson referenced mischief makers, furtive meetings, loose gossip and a shotgun wedding among other things.  All in all, it would appear that the play was a great success in the reviewer’s eyes … or so he told the readers of the New York Times.

A year later, the Los Angeles Times ran an article on February 16, 1929 with the headline:  “Nevada Wrestling Match Rivals Shotgun Wedding.”

The Chicago Daily Tribune ran an article on February 20, 1937 with the headline:  “Charges Shotgun Wedding in Plea for Annulment.”  The story told was of one Charles F. Lyons, 20 years old, of 211 West Jackson Boulevard who claimed  his marriage to Miss Elizabeth Enright, 21 years old, of 3918 Flournoy Street was a shotgun wedding that began with the father of the bride kidnapping the groom and taking him to wed his daughter.  He filed suit in Superior Court to have the marriage annulled.

By the time WWII was underway, shotgun wedding also had a political meaning as shown by an article that ran in the Tuscaloosa News on April 9, 1943 entitled “Background of Peace” that dealt with WWII and the arrival of a Mr. Wilson in Paris in 1918.  It was a reprint from the Chicago Daily Tribune and read in part:

The guaranty was a note signed by Great Britain, France and Italy before the armistice accepting the fourteen points and supplemental conditions as a specific formula for the peace.  It was a sort of shotgun wedding, inasmuch as Lloyd George and Clemenceau had been told that Mr. Wilson might go to congress for a separate peace on that formula if they undertook to disappoint the hopes they had raised.  Shotgun or not, the diplomatic rites had been solemnized and the pledge was holy.

It would appear that the phrase shotgun wedding is an Americanism from sometime in the early to mid-1920s, being used with ease by newspapermen and playwrights by the time 1928 came around.

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