More shared thoughts

Dear Editor:

With your permission, I would like to submit a new list of various and sundry topics that I hope will prove of interest to your readers.

Reading attribution: Most of my information comes from books, magazines Wikipedia, and my observations and opinions. I often don’t cite sources in the interest of saving space.

Since last wrote my list of idioms has passed 2,500. Among the latest is “It’s raining cats and dogs.” That’s not literally true, of course, but it has “rained “ fish, frogs, and eels on numerous occasions. Speaking of cats and dogs, why are they often referred to as “boys” and “girls” instead of males and females?

I recently decided to look up the history of Sappho. It was founded by a man named Van Buren Lamoreaux, who left St. John, KS, 1889 with a large family. After a brief stop I Seattle, where he found the soil unsatisfactory, he and most of his family sailed to Pysht, from which they hiked to their claim about 6 miles up what I assume is the Burnt Mt. Road When I first saw Sappho, nearly 70 years ago, it was a thriving community with about a dozen houses, or cabins, on each side of the highway, a company store, and post office, and extensive railroad maintenance facilities

“Today there are a million ants for each person on the planet. And the total weight of all these ants equals the weight of all these people.”—Tom Fate in “Cabin Fever.”

Dictionaries tend to agree that “ a prune is a dried plum.” When I was young we lived for a while near an old prune orchard. A few years ago I planted an Italian prune tree, which has not done well. I also have two plum trees. One can buy dried prunes. Is it any wonder that I am confused?”

In 1889, the year Washington gained statehood, one of the nation’s greatest tragedies occurred. Johnstown, PA, is located near Pittsburgh in the narrow Conemaugh River valley. It was a prosperous industrial city of 20,000 or so. Some wealthy businessmen in Pittsburgh built an earthen dam in the hills above Johnstown creating a three-mile-long lake that they used for boating and fishing. A series of unusually heavy rains sent water over the dam eventually destroying it and sending 20 million tons of water rushing downstream. This powerful torrent was so powerful it obliterated most of the buildings and killed at least 2,200 people.

It snowed at a Fourth of July picnic in Port Angeles in 1889 at about the same time big flood was taking place.

The famous Conestoga wagon was used mainly as a freight wagon back east. It was 18 feet long, 11 feet high, and 4 feet long. It was pulled by 8 horses or 12 oxen. For obvious reasons settlers moving west on the Oregon trail had to use a smaller version. The “prairie schooner,” being waterproof, could be pulled across smaller rivers, but ferried across larger ones, or floated. Indians were not a major problem. Disease was, with cholera being the worst scourge followed by typhoid fever, dysentery, and others. It is not well known, but travelers with milk cows could save a portion of the morning milking and store it somewhere in their wagon and the jolting of the wagon would churn butter for the evening meal.

Of the 40,000 men missing from the army in 1944, only Eddie Slovak was executed for desertion. Forty-eight had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. A year later they were released.

Gallup, New Mexico—When the order came to segregate citizens of Japanese ancestry, the city refused to do so.

Harvard University geneticist George Church thinks he can clone a mammoth.


Bob Hall