Posts Tagged "history"

The History of Toasts. It’s Not What You Think.

Dear Kid,

There’s a fun infographic making the social media rounds showing how to say “Cheers” in 20 different languages. You can see it here.

This of course raises the question as to why people say “cheers” in the first place. The obvious answer is so that a hit sitcom would have a name.

The history of toasts. It's not what you think. DearKidLoveMom.comBut—being the kind of mom I am—I decided to dig deeper. (And by “dig” I of course mean invent.)

Once upon a time, there were no toasts. When people wanted to drink, they picked up their cup (or gourd) and sipped.

Very original, independent types they were.

Then two brothers decided to go out for a drink.

An hour later they came home, bloody and bruised and generally in rough shape.

“What happened to you two?!” cried Momma who was crying more because she’d lost her evening of quiet than at the site of her damaged children.

“He started it!” the boys bellowed in unison. (You know what comes next, right?)

“And I’m going to end it!” Momma declared. “You,” she pointed, “sit there. And you,” again with the point, “there. Do. Not. Move.”

Momma was a many times descendant of Mrs. Joe Neanderthal and still had a great deal of her mothering mojo.

The boys sat. There was no question but that they’d sit until they were told (by Momma herself) that there was another alternative.

Momma then marched down to the corner pub the way a hurricane marches toward land. She went straight up to the bartender (who had the misfortune not to be descended from Mrs. J. N.), stared him straight in the eye with a look that simultaneously burned off his eyebrows and froze his innards (this was back in the day when everything you kept inside your skin was referred to as “innards”).

“What,” asked Momma in a voice that was not to be ignored, “happened?”

The bartender was a great devotee of the three big truths about bartending. 1. Wear comfortable shoes. 2. Keep the tips. 3. If you find yourself in a situation where you won’t be tipped, get out as politely as possible and go find more generous patrons.

The bartender’s shoes were tightening under Momma’s stare.

“The boys came in,” he said, starting with the obvious. The Look on Momma’s face suggested that she was not interested in the obvious or in the status of his footwear.

“They ordered a drink. I delivered the first one and went back to make the second. I guess one boy started drinking before the other and they started fighting.”

Momma leaned over the bar so that she was very close to the bartender. The bartender didn’t care for that but was smart enough not to object.

“Let me get this straight,” said Momma. “You were dumb enough not to serve them at the exact same time?”

The bartender squirmed. Momma glared. The bartender squirmed some more and wished that one of the other patrons would develop a need for a refill. All the patrons knew their refill orders would wait happily until Momma was done. The bartender, having found that squirming was all he could do, did it again.

Momma gave him one last glare that Said It All (none of which was printable), turned on her heel, and left.

On her way home, Momma thought. This was not in fact her strong suit. She was much better at glaring. But occasionally thought was required and this was one of those occasions.

When she got home, she found the boys just as she’d left them.

She was not surprised.

“Boys,” she said to them. “It was not your fault.”

While they boys each believed that, neither had expected to hear their mother say it.

“It’s the toast.”

This confused them. Momma went on.

“In this part of the world,” explained Momma, “the toast demands parity. The toast demands equality. The toast,” summarized Momma, “requires Words.”

Momma may have summarized, but the boys had no idea what she was talking about.

“When you go to have a drink,” Momma clarified, “you must raise your glasses at the same time and say ‘Toast’. Then the toast will be satisfied and you won’t feel the need to fight. But you must do it at the same time.”

This made about as much sense as the boys could hope for and they immediately went to the corner pub to practice.

Early toasts involved a lot of spilled beverage which is why the industry encouraged them.

It’s all about the industry.

And now you know.

Love, Mom

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How April 18 Helped the Revolutionary War

Dear Kid,

If you’d happened to be alive in 1775, and if you’d been paying attention to politics, and if you were in Boston hanging with your friends Adams and Hancock and company, you might have been part of History.

Really, we’re all part of history, but History was happening back then in the Colonies.

One if by land, two if by sea. DearKidLoveMom.comMore specifically, the British troops got the notion (and by “got the notion” I mean were ordered) to grab the Patriots arsenal in Concord (and maybe grab one or two of those patriots in the process). On April 18, the troops began their march. (Yes, marching in April. I get the irony.)

Paul Revere and William Dawes were tasked with alerting the Minutemen. Back in the Old North Church, the Patriots waited to send Revere and Dawes a text about what to expect. They hung two lanterns (One if by land, two if by sea) to signal that the British were crossing the Charles River into Cambridge.

Revere and Dawes (who had taken separate routes, the better to ensure one of them got through) put spur to horse (neither horse appreciated it) and rode like crazy yelling, “The British are coming! The British are coming!” and wishing more people had satellite TV so they wouldn’t have to yell as much.

They both made it to Lexington (MA not KY) and warned Adams and Hancock before continuing to Concord (MA not plane).

Along the way they were joined by Samuel Prescott who’d been out sowing a wild oat or two.

By this time it was April 19th, the Minutemen were busy arming themselves, Dawes lost his horse (there has got to be a good story in there), and Revere was captured. Prescott zigged and zagged and made it through to Concord (MA not grape). Revere was questions (and by “questioned” I mean beat up) and then released.

By 5am (have I mentioned that nothing good happens at 5am?), Major John Pitcairn and 700 of his troops (soldiers not Boy Scouts–and enough of them to make one really good agent) arrived at the Common to find 77 militiamen.

I know you haven’t studied warfare strategy extensively, but back in the day, numbers mattered (just as they do in a bar fight these days). And just in case you think you might not have read the previous paragraph correctly, let me assure you that 700 is a great many more than 77.

There they were, standing around, wondering if anyone was going to invite anyone else to dance when Pitcairn the Major ordered the Patriots (he probably didn’t call them that) to disperse. After a moment or two of sullen looks and wishing for a light saber, the Patriots began to leave the green.

Suddenly, the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired (forensics were unable to determine who fired that first gun). “Bang. Bang. Bang.” said the Revolutionary War as it battled its way into existence.

Eight Americans died during that battle; 10 more were wounded. Only one British soldier was hurt. The Americans immediately signed up for target practice and it was only a matter of time before the country was born and the world thought of us as Canada’s obnoxious neighbors.

Happy April 18!

Love, Mom

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Samuel Adams | ArtWorks Mural: Cheers to Cincy

Dear Kid,

Yesterday I got to help the Awesome Sue of Best Friend Errand Service (shameless plug for her business) set up for the Samuel Adams Octoberfest employee party. More about that tomorrow. One of the cool things we got to see while we were there was the new mural on the side of the brewery.

The mural was done this summer as part of the ArtWorks program with the youth apprentices (apprentici?). As in the same program that wonderful Zoe participated in (albeit on a different mural). I don’t know any of the kids who worked on this one, but it is amazing nonetheless.

The mural depicts the history of brewing here in the Queen City.

Samuel Adams ArtWorks Mural. Depiction of the history of brewing in Cincinnati. Can you find the hidden elements?

Did you know that King Gambrinus is considered the patron saint of beer? That’s him on the far left of the mural. According to My Friend the Internet, Gambrinus isn’t actually a saint of anything but since I’m not one to let facts get in the way of a good legend, I say we go with the patron saint thing.

At King Gambrinus’ feet is the Miami Erie Canal which used to transport materials and goods through Cincinnati.

Then comes the barrel room with the stain glass (I’ll show you pix of the Real Thing soon), wonderful farm ingredients for beer, and the “Louis” beer kettles.

After that Findlay Market, the Cincinnati skyline (the buildings, not the chili), and Genius of Water (better known for standing in the fountain downtown) raising her glass to King G and the people of Cincinnati.

The coolest part of the mural, however, is that there are hidden elements. Not the periodic table kind of elements, but hidden pictures (I knew to call them “elements” because the information flyer about the mural calls them elements.)

There is a big beer bottle on its side (found it), two Samuel Adams perfect pint glasses (found one so far), a flying pig (FINALLY found it), and the word CINCINNATI (still looking; it’s driving me crazy). Here’s a link to a clearer depiction of the mural if you want to try to find the hidden elements.

For the record, it is VERY cool that we have this kind of public art project in Cincinnati. It would be even cooler if someone would show me the second pint glass and the word Cincinnati…

Love, Mom

Yes, Zoe is going to update me on mural she worked on. Very Soon. (Right, Zoe?) Here are the first two parts of that in case you’ve forgotten.

Cincinnati ArtWorks Mural | Teen Interns Participate

ArtWorks Summer Apprentice Program Part II

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Bet You Don’t Know This About the Father of Our Country

Dear Kid,

He’s the Father of Our Country, the man with the cherry tree fetish, and on February 4, 1789, all 69 members of Congress cast their ballots to elect George Washington the first president of these United States.

George Washington

Perhaps not the most flattering angle…

Which clearly means we should discuss G.W. himself.

Not the stuff you learned in grade school, because you learned that already.

And not the stuff you learned in high school, because you’ve forgotten that already and why bring it up again?

No, I’m talking about the interesting stuff.

For example: Unlike many others at the time, G.W. did not wear a wig; he powdered his hair. Lots of people did that. Thank heavens we just poison ourselves with hairspray now and leave the talc in the past.

George’s favorite breakfast (the most important meal of the day) was hoecakes. Cornmeal pancakes that could be fried on the back of a hoe. No, I have no plans to try the farm implement style of cooking any time soon. He was also partial to cream of peanut soup, mashed sweet potatoes with coconut, and string beans with mushrooms.

All those veggies did not make him a healthy puppy. He suffered from diphtheria, tuberculosis, smallpox, dysentery, malaria, tonsillitis, carbuncle, pneumonia, (and for all I know carsickness). Not only was he sick a good amount of the time, he had crazy dental problems (go floss). He had false teeth (you knew that) but they were not made of wood (cherry or otherwise). They were made of gold, ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth. Lovely.

G.W. raised and bred hunting dogs and he loved those pups. He treated them like family (duh) and gave them names like Drunkard, True Love, Sweet Lips, and Tipsy.

Did I mention he owned a distillery? He made rye whiskey, apple brandy, and peach whiskey. And he made a lot of it. The whiskey was more like moonshine, but he had a license and paid taxes so he was a legal distiller.

While George started school when he was six, he had to drop out when he was 15 because of family financial issues. He was mostly self-taught and was so good at mathematics that he became a paid surveyor at 16 years old. NOTE: Unless you plan to become a general and then the first president of our country, you need more education than that.

Washington wrote more than 20,000 letters. Think about how much effort you put into a small thank you note and you’ll begin to realize the magnitude of his writing.

George was big man, about 6’2” and 200 pounds (you can do the conversion over to metric if you like). He was so strong he could crush a walnut between his thumb and forefinger and he was widely acknowledged as the best horseman in the 13 Colonies.

George may (or may not) have died from bloodletting when he was ill. That day they took 5 pints of blood (and if you think that seems like a lot, you’re quite correct). Washington wanted to be buried at Mount Vernon (and he was) despite the hullabaloo from Congress (they wanted to bury him under a statue in the Capitol.

George lost more battle than he won, but was considered a Most Excellent General partly because of his ability to hold a not-so-well-to-do army together for so long. In 1976, George Washington was named General of the Armies of the United States, a rank so high no one in the US will ever outrank him. Makes you wonder who gets the coffee in heaven.

And about the cherry tree? That story was made up after George was dead.

Now you know.

Love, Mom

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History, Access to Locker Rooms, and an Extremely Satisfying Bowl of Oatmeal

Dear Kid,

Have you ever noticed that History is full of Big Events (wars, natural disasters, the occasional Nobel Prize) but that life is made up of little events (breakfast, sunflowers, and the occasional hug from a child)?

In a way, that’s sort of a mismatch, don’t you think?

I understand the importance of mentioning Sir Frances Drake completing his circumnavigation of the world (1580) and the 1st Grand International Rifle match (1874) and several nuclear tests (a variety of years), but why don’t we ever mention something like “Bob Smith had a bowl of extremely satisfying oatmeal” or “James McKinney ended his craving by eating a pickle.”?

It’s important to remind ourselves of the big things that have been accomplished like NY District Court Judge Constance Baker Motley ruling that women sportswriters cannot be banned from locker rooms (1978). But why don’t the history books mention that On This Day In History MaryEllen Donett ruled that her two sons and a neighborhood boy couldn’t exclude their sister from their impromptu basketball game?

It’s a conundrum.

The Sleeping Philosopher. DearKidLoveMom.comI was going to ask Booker about it, but he’s sleeping. Also his usual answers to questions like that range from “How about a tummy rub?” to “How about a snack?” so I’m unlikely to find an answer there.

Or, perhaps tummy rubs, snacks, and an extremely satisfying bowl of oatmeal are the real answers and History just hasn’t figured out the right questions.

Love, Mom

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