Smitty’s Loose Change #15

There are many people in this country today who, through no fault of their own, are sane.  Most of them are Atheists.

***

And God created the universe it expanded exponentially. Then god divided this sky from the sea that then created life and he told it to multiply. After this he added man and subtracted his only son.

Standing back he looked on in confusion and wondered why this equation didn’t work… At this point a mathematics teacher came over and said, “You forgot the brackets ( ).”  And that was the last time God worked with BEDMAS.

***

I recently got within touching distance of two original Volkswagen Beetles, within hours of each other.  I found the first at a French fry wagon.   (Don’t tell the wife! She thinks I’m still on my diet.) It was greenish-yellow, in decent shape, with a little rust, mostly in the rain-gutters above the doors.  The owner said that it was a ’75 model, and it had custom license plates that read KAFER VW.  That’s a deficiency of the License Bureau.  Kafer, translated from German, means ‘coffee(maker).’  What it should have read, was KӒFER VW.  The addition of the umlaut over the A, changes the meaning to ‘beetle.’

The next one I saw was Fire-Engine Red, and in pristine shape.  I saw no rust.  Even Beetles had year-to-year (tiny) model changes.  Slightly smaller and different-shaped tail-lights told me that it was pre-’73.  It had Historic license plates, and its owner said that it was a ’68 version.

FUN WITH NAMES

The service tech at my Kia dealership is named Faucher.  It’s a French verb that means to mow (grass) the lawn.  His Father worked for, then purchased and ran, a landscaping company, all his working life.

A farm boy that the school bus picked up on one side of my town, was/is named Coulter.  I recently discovered that a ‘coulter’ is a plowshare, a cutting wheel or bar, in front of an actual plow.

A farm girl that the school bus picked up on the other side of town, was/is named Collard.  Back then, I did not know of the cultivation and, mostly Southern culinary, use of collard greens.

***

To err is human, but to really fuck up, you need a computer – with a bureaucrat running it.  Locally, we have been blackmailed into recycling green waste.  Garbage pickup has dropped to every two weeks, but blue-bin and green-bin waste is collected every week.

The region has issued every dwelling two green bins – a small one to put kitchen scraps in, and a larger ‘garage’ one to repeatedly dump the smaller one into.  Compostable-plastic-lined paper bags to hold wet waste are available at all local stores.

The larger bin is 12” X 13 ½”.  The Region-approved bags are 8 ½” X 12 ½”.  No wonder it must be dragged to the curb each week – the bag isn’t big enough to fill!  The smaller one, which I use for cat-shit – (it’s compostable) – is 6” X 7”.  The bureaucrat-authorized bags for it are 3 ¾” X 7 ½“– so long that they partly collapse when inserted, causing loss of volume, and barely half wide enough, causing more lost space.  I sense two different departments, each too self-important to communicate with the other, (You change!  No, You change!) involved in this, and Dilbert in the middle, shaking his head.

***

We’ve all seen the movies, or TV shows…. The CSI forensic technician enters the crime scene.  He/she plucks one dust mote from the air, and a couple of tension-filled moments later, gives the age, sex, name, address, phone number, and shoe color of the culprit.  What then to think of this newspaper story??!

A body was pulled from a lake.  She (at least they got the sex) was 28 to 50 years of age.  28??!  Why not 25?  Or 30??  How in Hell did anyone come up with 28?  Was someone converting from metric??  She was between 4’ 5”, and 5’ 1”.  😯  😳  Put her on an autopsy slab and measure her!!

They didn’t give her weight, but did publish a nice photo of a bead bracelet she was wearing…. Oh, and she might have been Asian, based on the keen observation of her yellow complexion, and lycanthropic epicanthic fold at the eyes.

Remind me, if I die of suspicious causes, I should do it in the big city, not in West Hickstowne, where an exciting day for police is one that has a moose fall into someone’s pool.

***

N.B.

In the above VW story, I downloaded a capital A with an umlaut over it, and put it in my post.  For some reason, WordPress separated the A and the two dots, into two adjacent spaces, and I don’t know how to get them back together.  Just try to visualize it correctly.   😳

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things

I give all credit for the idea of this post to the late journalist Sydney J. Harris, who would occasionally include something he called “Things I Learned While Looking Up Other Things” in his syndicated column.

This is a post about words and phrases. These are my building blocks, so they’re something I’m always interested in.  You understand the sometimes frustrating task of trying to find the correct word or phrase.

Occasionally, I’ll read or type words that I may understand in the context in which I’m seeing or using them, but will suddenly realize that I’m not certain where the words or phrases originated.

In this amazing Computer Age, I can afford a few minutes of distraction to investigate them further.

Right off the bat — As expected, the phrase “right off the bat,” meaning “immediately; at once; without delay” is a sports metaphor that has been traced back to the late 1880s with that usage. I just made the assumption that the sport was baseball—and it probably is—but some suggest that it may have originated with cricket (as baseball did).

Nitpicker — The word nitpicker means someone who finds faults, however small or unimportant, everywhere they look. We all know someone like that. If we don’t, it’s probably us. The word itself is relatively new, from about 1950 or so. It comes from the idea of picking nits (or lice eggs) out of someone’s hair. A nitpicker is as meticulous about finding faults as a literal nitpicker should be at finding each louse egg. Yes, it’s kind of a disgusting word origin, which is why nitpicker has negative connotations.

Top-notch — We know that top-notch means “excellent” or “of the highest quality.” But, what are its origins? It seems that no one really knows. It first appeared suddenly in its current usage in the mid-19th century. It has been suggested that it originated from one of several tossing games imported from Scotland that required a player to throw a weighted object over a horizontal bar. The best score would be when the bar was in the “top notch,” naturally. This sounds reasonable, but it’s really just a guess. Other guesses have it relating to logging, with the best lumberjacks able to cut from the highest notches, or some such thing. Another had something to do with candles and courting, but that’s been mostly debunked. Bottom line: we don’t know.

Since Hector was a pup* — Meaning “for a long time.” I can’t say this is exactly a regional colloquialism, although I heard it the first (and only) time from some guy in South Carolina. He said that it was something his dad always said, and, in the context it was used, the meaning was obvious.  Best guess, according to Internet sources, is that it is referring to the Trojan War hero Hector, since the phrase originated during a time when people were more well-versed in the classics. And that was, indeed, a long time ago.

Hemming and hawing — The phrase means to hesitate to give a definite answer. It dates back to the 1400s and is echoic in nature. A more modern interpretation would be “um-ing and er-ing” probably, with “um” and “er” being common filler sounds in hesitant speech. I always assumed it had something to do with either sewing or sailing. I was mistaken.

Gamut — I used the word “gamut,” knowing that its definition meant the complete range or scope of something. My actual sentence began “our entertainment choices run the gamut from …” But, where did the word “gamut” come from? It turns out that gamut originally meant “lowest note in the medieval musical scale” and it was a contraction of Medieval Latin gamma ut, from gamma, the Greek letter indicating a note below A, plus ut (later called do (as in “do re mi”), the low note on the six-note musical scale. So the word gamut was originally all about music, but later morphed into meaning “the whole musical scale,” or, figuratively, “the entire range or scale” of anything. Its first usage in this manner can be traced to the 1620s.

Honeymoon — The word and concept of the honeymoon owes more than a little to alcohol (as do some weddings: but, I digress—). The medieval tradition of drinking honeyed wine for a full moon cycle after a wedding was supposed to ensure a fruitful union between the new bride and groom. I guess Champagne is a modern-day analogue to honey wine.

Throwback — It means a person or thing that is similar to something of an earlier type or time. It was already in use with more or less the current definition in the mid-19th century. It is a combination of the verb “throw” and the adverb “back.” I can’t find a more pithy origin story for the word, even apocryphal stories that have been debunked. I was sure it would have its origin in the sport of fishing.

Venting your spleen — This particular idiom means “to express your anger.” From medieval times until the 19th century, the spleen—an organ in the body near the stomach—was thought to be the source of the “humors” that caused the emotion of anger. This is a colorful and archaic phrase. I contracted hepatitis as a 12-year-old.  (My mother called it jaundice, because I turned a lovely yellow/orange color from all the excess bile in my system.  I couldn’t keep food or drink down for two weeks, and lost 20 pounds – not a good thing on a skinny, stick-thin kid.)  But, I digress— anyway, my spleen was swollen while I had jaundice. I don’t recall being angry, but I did throw up a lot.

One to grow on — I thought an origin for this idiom would be easy to find, but it remains mostly a mystery.  When you had a birthday, it was a tradition to receive your birthday spanking by your friends or family, with the flat of the hand or with a paddle or belt. One person on-line said the birthday person would be “lightly paddled.” They didn’t live anywhere near me. Anyway, you’d get one swat for each year of your age, and then one extra swat, called the “one to grow on.” It’s like the baker’s dozen of birthday-themed beatings. I still don’t know the origins. Here’s one guess: you say something “grows on” you to mean that you become accustomed to it. Is the birthday punishment tradition meant for you to get used to pain because that’s all adulthood has to offer you in the future? That’s a little bleak, but it will serve as a placeholder until someone can offer me a better explanation.

* * * * *

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things = TILWROT
Remember that!  
As a lover of words, I know I’ll keep collecting these. Plus, I’ll keep posting them, I’m sure.

*Actually…. My Mother used to say, “Since ‘Towser’ was a pup.”  Now I’m off to research ‘Towser.’  Lord knows what I’ll find.

 

Flash Fiction #254

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

DREAMS UP IN SMOKE

Cheryl offered to help him with his writing.  A couple who worked at the newspaper dropped by each Friday, and they often discussed the craft.  “Join us.”

The husband said the first thing they did, was smoke dope.  “It frees the creativity.”  He silently demurred, not for moral or legal reasons, but from skepticism.  He’d be the abstaining benchmark.  “I’ll get a beer and catch up.”

A Cheech and Chong blunt got passed around…. around…. and around.  Potatoes, motorcycles, redhead in sales, socks with sandals…. Bright topics bubbled into the conversation – and were immediately forgotten.

There was no creativity here.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

I Smell A Rat

I trapped, and poisoned, and locked out all the rats.  What I smell, is something completely different.

Twice, last summer and fall, our two new Scottie Terrors Terriers came back into the house at night, smelling of skunk (….only, not).  They didn’t get sprayed, but were nearby when it happened.  A quick bath for each of them and their collars, and everyone slept peacefully.

Everybody knows what a skunk looks like, and what one smells like.  The odor is sharp, acrid, bitter, nasty.  This smell was none of those; it had more like a ‘husband crawling into bed, after a baked bean dinner’ stench – almost a sweetish tinge to it.

After the second occurrence, I was in the back yard, picking up what dogs put down and – What’s this??  A chunk of dried hide, as big as my hand, with black and white fur on it…. and over there, a second piece, just as big,,,, and yet a third piece, half as big.

The wife insisted that her little angels wouldn’t eat a skunk, and we found no bones, but I don’t see any cat-sized animal losing that much skin, and surviving.  It’s a pity, too!  Skunks will eat rats, and garden slugs.  As the snow began to fall, I noticed cat-prints in it, across my driveway, up my front walk, across in front of my porch, and disappearing, because the house kept the nearby snow melted.  Probably a cat that a neighbor allows to roam.

As winter progressed, and the snow piled up nearer the house, I realized that these ‘cat-prints’ led to a hole under my concrete porch.  😯 Uh-oh!  This can’t be good!  My resident skunk was no fool.  It roamed both my neighbors’ yards, usually keeping 8-foot wooden fences between it and the too-often yappy dogs.

Skunks are nocturnal.  I flicked on the light, and opened the front door one night at 4 AM, to retrieve my ‘morning’ newspaper, and there, six feet away, was the skunk!  I quickly and quietly closed the door.  The wife went out for a coffee date with an ex-co-worker.  Just as the women returned at 3 PM, the “nocturnal” skunk retraced that earlier path, right in front of them.

They both got a good look at it.  It was definitely a skunk…. only, it wasn’t marked like a ‘skunk’, and it didn’t move in that hoppy, undulating way that skunks move.  When she got in and settled, the wife grabbed her laptop, and researched “Skunks.”


Has no natural habitat, only un-natural, like its own imagination, and Ego-sphere

This is the American Mac-and Cheese-Head skunk.  It is continually raising a big stink, but it’s usually restricted to the Washington DC, or Mar-a-Lago areas.

 

Spotted Skunk

Apparently, there are 12 kinds of skunks, several of which can exist where I live.  It couldn’t be a European Polecat.  At first we thought that it might be an Eastern Spotted Skunk that we’d spotted.  More careful study revealed that it is most likely a Hooded Skunk.

Hooded Skunk

This explains the difference in the smell of the spray.  More recently, I opened the front door again at 4 AM, and heard squeaking and squealing beneath my porch.  Either it was complaining about the new Wi-Fi password I’d installed, or I have a female, raising a litter.  👿  It’s gonna be an interesting spring.  Besides a husband who likes spicy burritos, 🌯 what do you have that creates a stench where you live?

DON’T TAKE THEIR WORD FOR IT

Dictionary

Pros

The crashed space contraction – was actually a weather balloon contraption.

This Texas joined has many options – Move your joint closer to that dictionary.

She one the homecoming queen title – That’s won title I’m impressed with.

From the prospective of the actor – he should have a bit more perspective.

Facepalm

They wear mink coats made of polar bear fur:facepalm:

I’ll make a help meet for him – A helpmate would have been a better idea.  This isn’t a dating site.

The ugly crowd finally disbursed. – Not unless they were paid to disperse.

The city had a wide away of amenities – Alwight, Elmer Fudd, just look at this array.

She has plead guilty – I plead that you use the word pled.

Companies that engage in development no they have a responsibility – They’re responsible to know the right word.

Overwhelms their soy-dullened senses – I would offer a zingy riposte to that, but I’m busy eating a “Beyond Meat”© burger…. and I just can’t seem to think of one.

His chariot-horses were poisend – Any desire to read his book was poisoned.

Australian writers of a radical bend – I bent over, and found the proper word.

They tried to recoop their expenses – put them back in a cage till tax-time.

The monster was bearing its great fangs – since it was born.  Now it is baring them.

It’s more comfortable without the extra seems – It seems that you should use seams.

He continues to pressure his passion in arts – No pressure, just look up pursue

Camoflauge Chic – Apparently the correct spelling was camouflaged.

New York Times
The President has not been seeing wearing a mask – the writer should be seen at an ESL class.

They weren’t sure what the reporter’s roll was – I believe it was rye, possibly pumpernickel

US racing violence leaves PM without words – I have one – Race!,  %&$#@

Amateurs

In the mean, politicians fixate on getting re-elected. – In the main, that is true.

I dear say that reduces the damage – I dare say that construction is wrong.

Any nation that was invited in time of war – I invite you to look up invaded.

If any descent was voiced – I dissent with that spelling

I had him paged as an anemic redneck – I had you pegged as illiterate.

On sale, Pop-Tards – on a sign printed by Re-Tard

She treated him with distain – getting the lipstick off his collar.  I have disdain for her.

Undo credence is given to tradition – but undue attention is not given to the correct word.

Your boyfriend seen nice – He also seemed to speak English.

People who rock up to you when you’re busy – should just walk away.

When religion grabs the leavers of political power – It’s time to lever it back out, and leave.

Policed said they would canvas the building – Threw a tarp over it so that so that English teachers could canvass it.

This harps back to a time – When we said that it harks back.

Working with medal to produce something – Put the pedal to the metal.

The Universe was created it if nothing – A Universe of confusion was created out of that construction.

A kid nailed a two by floor in a tree – My Dad called it a two by twice.

It was the Law of Unattended Consequences – You should have intended to attend English class.

All I had to do was right them down – All that’s left is to write the right word.

Except the one recanting the tale – Recant that spelling, and go with recounting.

We were weakly church attenders, and I alter-served – But would have done better, at home with a textbook.

Gotta love those threats of eternal tournament – That misusage is a torment to me.

What’d You Say?

Hearing Aid

I went to the doctor’s the other day, and told her I have hearing problems.
She said, “Can you describe the symptoms?”
I said, “Homer’s a big fat guy, and Marge has tall blue hair.”

I just saw a burglar kicking his own door in.
I asked, “What are you doing?”
He said, “Working from home.

Mother’s Day commercials – diamonds on sale for $3000
Father’s Day commercials – Target men’s shorts on sale for $11.00

It’s been a strange sort of day. First I found a hatful of money, then I was chased by some weirdo with a guitar.

I was late for work today, because I got drunk last night, and set my calculator for $5.30.

OMG, I’m rich! Silver in the hair, gold in the teeth, crystals in the kidneys, sugar in the blood, lead in the butt, iron in the arteries, and an inexhaustible supply of natural gas.

I can’t remember how to write 1, 1000, 51, 6, and 500 in Roman numerals.
I’M LIVID

A man went into the library, and asked for a book on Probability.
The librarian replied, “Possibly it’s on that shelf over there.”

I went on a job interview the other day.
The interviewer said, “It says on your resume that you are a man of mystery.”
I replied, “That’s correct.”
He asked, “Would you care to elaborate?”
I said, “No.”

Of course I should clean my windows. But privacy is important too.

Somebody once said to me, “Archon, You’re too pretentious.” I think that it was Jean Paul Sartre – or it could have been the Dalai Lama, I forget.

My father was an old-fashioned provider. He hunted with a bow and arrow. There was never a problem till he got to the canned goods section of the supermarket.

When my wife starts to sing I always go out and do some garden work so our neighbors can see there’s no domestic violence going on.

An old Irish farmer’s dog is missing, and he’s inconsolable.
His wife says, “You should put an ad in the paper.”
Two weeks later, there’s still no sign of the dog.
“What did you put in the paper?” she asks.
“Here boy!” he replies.

Why isn’t the military accepting karate pros?
Because when they salute they might kill themselves.

I am coughing and my nose is plugged.
Internet diagnosis: I am 26 weeks pregnant!

A glass of Nutella has about 9870 calories. But I don’t care. I never eat the glass anyway.

Web site login: Sorry, your password 257EeffQ@# is not secure enough.
Cash machine login 1234: Here’s your 1000 dollars.

Waiter? I’m sorry, but I cannot eat all this. Would you be so kind and pack it for me? To take away?
But sir, this is a buffet.
Pack it up I said!

My dog used to chase people on a bike a lot. It got so bad, finally I had to take his bike away.

“You know how it is in life. One door closes – that means another door opens…”
“Yeah, very nice, but you either fix that or I’m expecting a serious discount on that car!”

My ex-wife still misses me. But her aim is steadily improving.

I Googled “how to start a wildfire”.
I got 48,000 matches.

 

’19 A To Z Challenge – S

AtoZ2019Letter S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The judge asked the accused in a paternity suit, “Have you ever slept with this woman?”
He replied, “Not a wink, Your Honor! Not a wink!”

Bed

Without even thinking about it (and that’s what causes problems) most people expect social conformity.

Despite my liking for archaic language, there are just some 19th century insults that should not be brought back. Have you ever been called a

SLUGABED

a lazy person who stays in bed long after the usual time for arising

Neither have I. Not quite.

Late one Sunday night (by my calculations), about 4:30 AM, I walked down to the end of my driveway to pick up Monday’s newspaper. I arrived at the same time as my neighbor across the street, who was putting out Monday’s garbage.

Full of perk, and perhaps perked coffee, he brightly said, “Oh, I see that you’re up early too. I have to drive to Ottawa today (5/6 hours), so I thought I’d get an early start.”

I told him that I wasn’t getting up. I was about to go to bed at 5:00 AM, and would be back up at 1 PM. “You sleep in till 1 o’clock??! How in Hell do you get anything done?” I had just spent four quiet, productive hours – half a workday – on the computer. It was fine for him to modify and set his sleep hours, getting up at 4 AM, rather than at 7:00, to suit his needs, but he felt that I was wasting time by doing the same thing, to fit my schedule and my usual time.

There was no ASSUME here. The only ass was the one trapped in a car for hours, while I recharged my energy in a nice soft bed. He didn’t make me into one. 😯

Now that I’m awake again, feel free to comment.   😀

Flash Fiction # 209

Poetry

THE STRONG, SILENT TYPE

I really like you
I’m sure that I’ve shown.
And, also, I love you.
I thought that you’ve known

I have trouble with words
And what I should say
Is, “I want you! I need you!
That’s why you should stay.”

Some men speak with their voices,
But it’s a real art.
For a man who cannot,
You must hear with your heart.

The wife said, “You don’t tell me that you love me.”
I said, “I told you that I loved you before we got married. If that ever changes – I’ll let you know.”

Poetry

***

I’ve previously published the above poem as part of a post, but I don’t think that (m)any of the Flash Fiction group have seen it. I had it published in the Toronto Sun, as the poetry section of the Coffee Break page, which included the comics and crossword puzzle. It was in response to a poem from a woman who thought that she should dump her boyfriend, because he never told her he loved her.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

friday-fictioneers-badge-web

High Drama – Low Comedy

Trudeau

Okay! Move along, move along! Nothin’ to see here. Just another Canadian political rant.

I got another Op-Ed letter published. I shouldn’t phrase it like that. I get almost all my submitted letters published. With print newspapers dying, and readers going to social media, the papers are grateful for any Op-Ed letters. It used to be a contest, and the local paper published 4 -6 letters every day. Now, there’s only 2 letters per issue, and often none.

Blackface

Still…. I had this to say about our pretty, young (and pretty young) Prime Minister.

Many people, probably Liberal party supporters, want to excuse Justin Trudeau’s Blackface incident, saying that he did not mean to insult anyone. This is true, because Trudeau is far too narcissistic to care about insulting other races.

If it were an isolated incident, performed by an adolescent, it might be understandable, but it’s only one in a string of bad social choices – a blackface, two brownfaces, and his Mr. Dressup tour of India.

At 29, well beyond adolescence, he attended a black-tie society dinner. 500 guests, 249 men dressed in tuxedos, and Ali Baba Justin showed up – poorly.

We don’t need a drama student, or teacher. We need a mature statesman to lead the country, not an entitled rich kid, leading a high school musical!

India

This is our Prime Minister, Canada. Ain’tcha glad??! This makes Trump look good. Remember this on our upcoming Election Day.

I’ve Never Herd Of Smith

People Named Smith
H. Allen Smith once wrote a book titled People Named Smith. This was a financial move on his part, as he knew that if only five percent of the Smiths in the United States bought the book, he would be able to retire rich. Unfortunately, he discovered that “almost everyone named Smith is either (1) stingy, or (2) illiterate, or (3) both.”

He did this because Mark Twain had shown him how. Twain claimed that he had met a John Smith in every town he had ever been in, and cynically dedicated his first novel to “John Smith,” claiming that people who have a book dedicated to them, will purchase a copy of it.

Captain John Smith was an explorer of note, and an island he discovered near Cape Charles was named “Smith Island” after him. However, Captain Smith wasn’t happy with the island chosen to honor him, and he complained, “Why, I could spit across it.”

The book is mainly about names, and not all of them were of people named Smith. He once met an imposing man, when invited on a cruise on a yacht in the Caribbean. Not impressed with the commonness of his name, Smith, he declared, “A man’s name is a mere label – nothing else – and has no more meaning than the label on a can.

The gentleman disagreed, and introduced himself. He was Theron Lamar Caudle, the assistant Attorney-General of the United States. His name was all old Anglo-Saxon, and represented a complete sentence. Theron means ‘go seek.’ Lamar means ‘the sea,’ and Caudle is a ‘hot toddy.’ Translated literally, it means, “Go seek a hot toddy by the sea,” and here he was, with a drink in his hand, on a boat, in the Caribbean.

People afflicted with the last name Smith, sometimes go to lengths to have a first name of some significance which sets them apart from all the other multitudes of Smiths. Labels are important to many, although one Appalachian mother cared so little that she insisted to the interviewer, that the official names of her two kids, on the ‘Guv’mint papers, really was Shithead and Fartface Smith.’

One child was named 5/8 Smith. I don’t know if he was the runt of the litter, or maybe, just not all there. One father christened his son Smith, so that he went through life with the double-barreled name of Smith Smith. A photographer, whose work appeared in newspapers and magazines, legally changed his given name to Another, because he was tired of hearing, “Oh, another Smith.”

One day the author was speaking to a writer friend. They discussed some personal things, and then he said, “What are you working on these days?”
“I’m collaborating on a book.”
“With whom?”
“Man named Ira Smith.”
“You serious??”
“Certainly I’m serious.”
He said, “My God, that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that I’m collaborating on a book with a man named Ira Smith.”

It was true. The other writer was working on the memoirs of Ira R. T. Smith, who for 51 years had been in charge of mail at the White House. At the same time, H. Allen Smith had been working on a book of baseball anecdotes with Ira L. Smith, a Washington journalist.

Ira wouldn’t seem to be an especially common first name, yet Ira L. had had his share of confusions. He was forever getting newspaper clippings from friends;
Ira Smith caught drunk driving in Georgia
Ira Smith an upstate New York cabbie, kidnapped, robbed, tied to a tree, and murdered
Ira L. Smith, a retired Virginia lumberman, dying at the age of 91

He even had a newspaper ad which said;

FOOL your friends. Pretend you are in San Francisco
3 postcards sent 25 cents (20-$1) You write
message, address, return. I remail in San Francisco
Letter mailed 15 cents. Your friends will think
you’re travelling. Ira Smith, 153 Liberty St., San
Francisco, Calif.

The middle name of our Ira L. Smith was Lepouce, his mother’s Belgian maiden name, meaning ‘the thumb’. He was once under consideration for a great job in Washington, but a senior executive named Smith, didn’t want him hired. There were already too many Smiths in the office, and he didn’t want another one messing up phone calls and mail.

Ira went to the man, and offered to apply his middle name to all phone calls and correspondence. The exec replied, “Anyone who would permit himself to be called I. Lepouce Smith in order to get a job must want that job pretty badly. You’re hired.”

The author mentions a situation called Ultra-Smith, where one Smith marries another. My sister did this, confusing all sorts of folks. As you climb down from the family tree, EVERYBODY is named Smith.

(* I have a framed reproduction of a Feb. 13, 1923 Saturday Evening Post cover, with a Norman Rockwell painting and an article about Wodehouse’s recent Psmith book, which refused to upload to WordPress.  It, and a mug with his name, Cyril, were all I got from the nursing home when my Father died.  I didn’t even know he had it.  Perhaps if/when I figure out the problem, I can display it in a later post.)

In England, we have the interesting case of Mr. Psmith, a dashing young character invented by P. G. Wodehouse. In the novel Leave It to Psmith, we find him engaged in a colloquy with a young woman.

“The name is Psmith, P-smith.”
“Peasmith, sir?”
“No, no. P-s-m-i-t-h. I should explain to you that I started life without the initial letter, and my father always clung ruggedly to the plain Smith. But it seemed to me that there were so many Smiths in the world that a little variety might well be introduced. Smythe I look on as a cowardly evasion, nor do I approve of the too prevalent custom of tacking on another name on the front by means of a hyphen. So I decided to adopt the Psmith. The P, I should add for your guidance, is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan. You follow me?

This Smith book was written in 1952, which explains the ancient, minuscule postage fees, and the somewhat formal construction. Aside from the P-ed off words above, the author used ‘expatiate,’ which means, to enlarge in discourse or writing; be copious in description or discussion: ramble on and on – which I’ve done magnificently with this post. Thanx for rambling along with me, and some of my questionable namesakes.