Sunday, June 15, 2014

Things My Father Said

So, it's Father's Day and like most of us I'm sure my thoughts have been full of my father today.

My father was just on old Missouri farm boy. Born at the turn of the century-1903. Born a week after the Wright Brothers made their little flight at Kitty Hawk. Born of a different time and place.

So, I was reading something, and the person involved in the conversation is at the very least a rather strange person. So, having my father in my head I could hear him. "This one is nuttier than a peach orchard boar." Now, that is a colorful colloquialism, and I grew up hearing him say it,and while I knew what he meant by it-today, I went off in search of why that was a saying, because most sayings come from somewhere.

This one has several variations I learned on the internets. Crazy as a peach orchard boar, drunk as a peach orchard boar. It turns out that quite often farmers used pigs to help in the orchard. Pigs root, so pigs would be useful to help keep the ground around the trees from becoming compacted. Trees grow better. Pigs eat, so fruit that dropped to the ground would feed the pigs. Fruit that had been on the ground a while ferments and pigs who ate too many fermented fruits would behave in crazy, humorous ways. I knew what the phrase implied, I just don't think I ever knew why, and now I do.

My father was a soft spoken man, but he always got his point across. If you were someone he considered worthless, or someone who had perpetrated something he considered heinous he would say "That one should have been drowned as a pup."

If the weather was cold and raw-it was "Colder than a well digger's ass" , which made sense. But his "colder than a witches teat" I had to look up, and it is fascinating.
..there's some history behind this wisecrack. A witch's tit (or witch's teat, to use the older spelling) supposedly left a marking
that witch hunters and courts would look for on the body of an accused person. Supposedly, witches would suckle their
familiars, and sometimes the Devil himself, from this "unholy" body part. To find these marks, as well as insensitive spots on the
skin called devil's marks--caused by the Devil's claws or teeth--the suspects were stripped, shaven, then closely examined for
any blemishes, moles, or even scars that could be labeled as diabolical. To find marks invisible to the eye, the examiner would
poke the victim inch by inch with a blunt needle (called a bodkin) until they found a spot that didn't feel pain or bled. Discovery
of these marks or spots--one supposes they would be considered cold since they were a sign of communion with the
Devil--would be "proof" of the person's dealings with Scratch, so they would be shown in full court before the execution.

Now as I read this, it dawned on me, that had someone accused me of witchcraft a few hundred years ago, I would have been executed. I have a polyneuropathy in my legs, feet, and hands. The 'bodkin'  would have found lots of spots on me that could have been used in court.

So, happy Father's Day Papa, and thanks for the lessons. A day is never lost when you have the opportunity to learn something. Only people who die young learn all they need to know in kindergarten.

Peace and blessings,

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