Thursday, May 29, 2014


A giant lumberjack who performs

superhuman acts in American folklore.


A type of marble that is smaller; 1/2" or less in diameter.

Pest house
A hospital for patients affected with

plague or other infectious disease.


A trademark kind of player piano; a mechanically

operated piano that uses a roll of

perforated paper to activate the keys.

(Ethel: I'm Ethel Toffelmier the pianola girl.)

Pick-a-little, talk-a-little
A group of small-town busybodies who gossip in such a

manner that they sound like a brood of cackling hens


A small wooden pail or tub with an upright

stave for a handle, often used as a dipper.


From pinchbeck - serving as an imitation or substitute; "pinchbeck

heroism" : an alloy of copper and zinc that is used in cheap jewelry

to imitate gold. Made of pinchbeck; sham; cheap; spurious; unreal.


Plymouth, Massachusetts is the oldest settlement in New England,

founded in 1620. Plymouth Rock is on the beach where the Mayflower landed.


Rabelais, Francois (1494?-1553)
He was a French humanist (also a Benedictine monk and physician)

who was one of the comic geniuses of literature writing satirical

attacks on medieval education, religion, politics, philosophy, and

superstition. Alma Ethel and Eulalie sing: "Chaucer! Rabelais! Balzac!"


A style of jazz characterized by elaborately syncopated rhythm

in the melody and a steadily accented accompaniment.


The purpose of the lyceum movement (started in Massachusetts

as early as 1826) was self-improvement by lectures and discussions

on literary, scientific, and moral topics. Lyceums continued to

exist into the twentieth century, although by 1925 they were found

for the most part only in small towns, often

in combination with musical programs.


This is slang for any carriage or coach.

Rip roarin'

Noisy, lively, and exciting.

The city of Rock Island, Ilinois is a major city in what is known as

the Quad Cities located on the Mississippi River, approximately

175 miles west of Chicago. It is also situated near Davenport Iowa.

An easy woman

This is a selection of poems, originally written in Persian and of which

there are about a thousand, attributed to Omar Khayyám (1048–1131),

two-line stanza with two parts (or hemistichs) per line, hence the word

rubáiyát (derived from the Arabic language root for "four"), meaning "quatrains."


A charismatic character that draws people to him. St. Michael, the

archangel, was especially honored and invoked

as a patron and protector of the Church.

Saint Pat
Saint Patrick - c.385-461, Christian

missionary, the Apostle of Ireland.


Sanitary package
This was first used to describe packaging to keep items like

crackers from spoiling. From Encarta: "In 1899 the National Biscuit

Company introduced its successful Uneeda Biscuit package. This

package is generally considered to have signaled the end of the

bulk-merchandising procedures of the country-store era."


This was to the 19th century what breath mints are to our time.

Any country store worth its salt, prominently displayed a box

of the handy little packets within easy reach of its customers.


Very young: shirttail kids.



A trifoliate (3 leaf) plant used as a national emblem by the Irish.

The legend is that St. Patrick once plucked a leaf 

of it for use in illustrating the doctrine of the trinity.


Soft goods

Textiles, clothing, and related articles of trade. Also called dry goods.

catch phrase from 1900

An exclamation, used as a retort to an insult or slur.

Sousa, John Philip (1854-1932)
Band leader and a composer. Sousa was the director of the
U.S. Marine Corps Band from 1880 to 1892. After being discharged
from the Marine Corps he formed his own band and gave concerts
worldwide. His marches include "El Capitan"
A type of marble. A shooter made out of steel
that can be either solid or hollow.
This is slang for "cool" or in jazz age slang:
"good" or a "high class" person.
A slurry brew of pain and public mortification, tar and feathers was
the punishment for unrepentant Loyalists in the 1760's and '70s.
A tailor-made cigarette referred to any cigarette massed
produced in a factory on a cigarette making machine.

A small town where trains would stop only to replenish water
Song by Moore, Thomas 1779-1852, Irish poet. His Irish Melodies
(1808-34) include The Harp that Once through Tara's Halls. Tara was
a village of eastern Ireland northwest of Dublin. It was the seat
of Irish kings from ancient times until the sixth century A.D.
Latin for "time flies" ("Time's a-wasting"); expressing concern that
one's limited time is being consumed by nothing in particular, or
by something which may have little intrinsic substance,
importance or urgency at that moment, if ever.
One who cheats with a shell game in which a con man hides a small
object underneath one of three thimbles, nutshells or cups, then
shuffles them while spectators try to guess the final location of the object.

A cask larger than a barrel holding the old unit of liquid measure
of the same name equal to 42 US gallons which salt
provisions, rice, etc., are packed for shipment.
A photograph made directly on an iron plate varnished
with a thin sensitized film; also called a ferrotype.
In the Midwest (especially in the outskirts of the big cities) at the
beginning of the 20th century, there were just small independently
owned stores, most of them specializing in one kind of product-
dry goods, hardware, feed, etc. About this time, wholesalers, as
agents for manufacturers, sent traveling salesmen, often moving
across the land via the railroad, to show samples or bring supplies
and inventory to storeowners. Some of these salesmen sold specialty
products directly to consumers, which made local retailers nervous,
fearing that people would stop buying from local stores. So as a result
many traveling salesmen met with the hostility and suspicion that small
town folks often felt toward anything unknown or new. By the early
20th century, the traveling salesman had become a familiar and 
sometimes comical image in America. Often they were considered
slick and untrustworthy, peddling cure-all elixirs and, in
Harold Hill’s case, musical instruments and band uniforms.

The trombone (Ger. Posaune, Sp. trombón) is a musical instrument
in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced
when the player’s vibrating lips (embouchure) cause the air
column inside the instrument to vibrate. The trombone is usually
characterized by a telescopic slide with which the player varies
the length of the tube to change pitches, although the valve
trombone uses three valves like those on a trumpet.
Trottin' race vs. Horse race
Trotting race: A horse that trots, especially one trained for harness racing (very genteel pastime).
Horse race: With a jockey on the horses back, running much quicker than the trotting race.
"Two-by-four kinda store"
This is a putdown - small or petty of its kind, as in
"this house and its two–by–four garden" – Philip Barry

Up to the 1880's, crackers were unbranded and typically sold loose

in cracker barrels. But Adolphus Green, who had created the

National Biscuit Company, decided to develop a distinctive, nationally

branded product. Green settled on the name Uneeda Biscuit

("biscuit," Green decided, was more elegant than "cracker"). The

product would be manufactured in a distinctive octagonal shape and

sold in a waterproof wax paper-lined box. Uneeda was one of the

first mass marketed products outside of its region in part due

to the "sanitary packaging" it promoted as being a step above

the cracker barrel in terms of health and convenience.
Roman goddess of love and beauty;

(Aphrodite in Greek mythology)

Webster, Noah (1758-1843)
American lexicographer who helped standardize American spelling with


originally published in 1828.

The Wells Fargo stagecoach since 1852 has been a symbol

of reliable service. Over one hundred years ago, their stage

traveled across thousands of miles of desert, prairie, and mountain

roads to deliver mail and cash. Gracie: "Papa!

The Wells Fargo Wagon is just comin’ up from the depot!"

A Midwestern way of saying "What do you mean?"

The correct quote is

"Cowards die many times before their deaths;

The valiant never taste of death but once"

-- William Shakespeare, from Julius Caesar.

"When the man dances
the piper pays him"
To pay the piper means "to bear the consequences of something." This twist

means Harold Hill never has had to pay for his actions –

as a matter of fact, he even profits from them without consequences.

This is a type of association whose members are usually the

wives of members of an association with which it is affiliated.

Wood, Grant (1891–1942)
He was an American painter from Iowa. He is best known for
his paintings of the rural American Midwest, particularly American
Gothic, an iconic image of the 20th century, referenced
during Iowa Stubborn in Act I of "THE MUSIC MAN."
Ye Gods
A curse or exclamation of contempt used in ULYSSES, by James Joyce:
 "O jumping Jupiter! Ye gods and little fishes! Still, she's a dear girl."