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Friday, May 22, 2009

The Week's Roundup.

As a reference librarian, every day I learn something new. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make me a trivia genius. What I am an expert on one day, I am completely ignorant of the next. There goes my Jeopardy! championship.

Here are a few of the things I learned about this week that will be completely foreign to me next week:

• The first bridge over the Mississippi River at Vicksburg was built in 1930. Before this, traincars from the east heading to Texas would float across on a ferry. It sounds crazy to me, too; even crazier is the photo:

• In browsing Martha Hall Foose's Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, I came upon a recipe for quite possibly THE most southern food ever: Sweet Tea Pie. Here's a great article about Southern cooking, too.

• In the 1790s, the Chickasaws of Mississippi had become able farmers, some of whom owned slaves. In a 1790 report by Major John Doughty of the U.S. Army, recounted in Strawberry Plains Audubon Center by Hubert H. Alexander, Doughty reports that the tribe "live in Plenty in their Towns. Their Provisions [include] Hogs, Poultry, Eggs, Beans, Corn & the Finest Potatoes I ever saw. The Chickasaws appear to be verging fast towards the State of Farmer. Game is getting scarce. [They] kill Bear, Otter, Deer, & some Beaver. The Chicksaws and Choctaws dress their skins to make them more valuable. They dispose of large Quantities of Bear Oil for the Orleans Markett [sic]" (5).

Several things about this passage struck me: the Chickasaws owned slaves? What made the potatoes so fine? And while it makes sense that anything with fat can thus be made into oil, I've never seen the words "bear" and "oil" together before.

• The term "panhandling" doesn't come from the act of grasping the handle of a pan and holding it outstretched so that passersby can drop money in it. It actually comes from a (really hard-to-find, by the way) slang term for money in the 1890s: "pan"!

• If you disturb someone by interrupting, you've just interturbed. No, really. It's a word!

Grambs, David. The Endangered English Dictionary: Bodacious Words Your Dictionary Forgot. Norton, 1994. 90.

"Madison Parish, Louisiana Photos of Historic Interest." 22 May 2009.

McAlexander, Hubert H. Strawberry Plains Audubon Center: Four Centuries of a Mississippi Landscape. University Press of Mississippi, 2008. 5.

Farmer, J.S. Slang and Its Analogues. Arno Press, 1970. 132.

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