JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.

Have a question?

We have answers!
Chat Monday-Friday, 8 AM - 5 PM (except MS state holidays)
Phone: 601-432-4492 or Toll free: 1-877-KWIK-REF (1-877-594-5733)
Text: 601-208-0868

Friday, March 28, 2014

Where Is Thumbkin?

I remember singing a song when I was little that was all about phalanges. The song didn't actually use the word phalanges--a pity, too, as it's such a delightful word--but much fun was had by all singing about each individual finger. (You can see the words here.) Here is some more fun with fingers:
  • The thumb was called the thuma in Old English (Finger). As a freshman in high school, I remember being highly amused by the meaning of thumb biting in Romeo and Juliet. When Mr. Baugh explained that scene with "No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir," I think the whole class was impressed with Shakespeare's raunchy writing (and ready to read more!)
  • The index finger was called the towcher in Old English, and the toucher in Middle English because, well, you know, you touch things with it. The Anglo-Saxons called it the scite or shooting finger (Finger).

  • In Old English, the middle finger was called long-man, just like in the nursery song (Finger).
  • The ring finger was called lec-man in Old English. Lec referred to leeches, so if you're thinking of old-timey medicine (Old English old-timey medicine) it is obviously the "medical" finger. The "Old English" weren't the only ones to label the fourth finger as medical. The Romans called the fourth finger digitus annularis, or literally, the ring finger. The Anglo-Saxons called it the gold-finger (No, not Auric Goldfinger!) This nomenclature influences us to this day. We wear our wedding rings on the fourth finger because the ancients believed that a nerve ran from that finger to our hearts. They also "used it for stirring mixtures under the notion that it would give instant warning to the heart if it came into contact with anything noxious" (Finger).

  • The Anglo-Saxons called our smallest finger the ear finger because, naturally, it's the one people use to scratch inside their ears (Finger). I've always called it my pinky, and it turns out that the Scots use the word pinky (or pinkie, if you prefer) to describe anything tiny. According to The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, "a crooked little finger is often considered a sign that the person will die rich, but this wealth is likely to have been made in a dubious way."
I hope I get to enjoy my dubiously made money some before I die!

Finger. (2012). In Brewer's dictionary of phrase and fable. Retrieved from
Pinkie. Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. Print.!.jpg
Webster, Richard. The Encyclopedia of Superstitions. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2008. Print.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book of the Day: The Tilted World

We have found your next great read! The Tilted World is the latest offering by Tom Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter) and Beth Ann Fennelly (Pushcart Prize winning poet). This novel has it all--there's romance, there's mystery, there's history, there's poetry... Maybe that's why everyone here at the Mississippi Library Commission can't get enough of this engrossing read. Come check it out before someone else snatches it up!

Already finished the book and hungry for more? Whet your whistle with the authors' interview with the Oxford-American, dig deeper into the 1927 flood and check out Rising Tide, or get a feel for the times from Lanterns on the Levee, a memoir by William Alexander Percy, the head of the Greenville Red Cross during the flood.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Book of the Day: Bottle Trees...and the Whimsical Art of Garden Glass

In celebration of the second day of Spring, our Book of the Day is Bottle Trees...and the Whimsical Art of Garden Glass. The author of this wonderful little book is Mississippi's own acclaimed horticulturalist, garden writer, photographer, and host of MPB's The Gestalt Gardener, Felder Rushing. Felder takes readers across America and England (and our very own Mississippi!) with fantastic pictures illustrating the bottle tree phenomenon. Not only does Felder reflect on his own personal history with bottle trees in this book, but on the historical (and superstitious) significance of these works of yard art!

Come and visit us at the Mississippi Library Commission to check out this neat book, or get suggestions for other books by Mississippians!

Friday, March 14, 2014

3.14 Nuggets About Pie

Many years ago, my former in-laws, sweethearts though they were, trapped me in their mini-van for four hours so that I could experience the wonders of Pie Town, New Mexico. All I have to say about that four-hour road trip nearly twenty years later is this: Y'all, there was no pie. (I learned later that, in order to find pie, you have to show up in September.) In the hopes of making your Pi Day experience more pie-like, and to make up for decided lack of pie in my life, I give you 3.14 nuggets about pie:

1. I remember reading about Stargazy Pie in some book or other way back when. This delightfully macabre dish, which hails from Cornwall, England, consists of "pilchards baked in a pie with their heads poking through the crust" (Star). Now, for some reason, I always thought a pilchard was a type of bird, so I have always pictured either little bald bird heads (eek!) or still-feathered bird heads wafting bird feathers all in my pie (much worse!) Imagine my relief when I took the time to do some research and found that pilchards are, in fact, sardines:

Stargazy Pie,
with each pilchard gazing toward the stars

In my mind, this is much better than, say, mockingbird pie or bluebird pie. The unique arrangement of this pie allows the oil of the fish to drain back to the crust, making it more moist and delicious (greatbritishkitchen).

2. Have you ever heard someone refer to eating humble pie? I mean the turn of phrase, here, not the British rock band. It seems that this phrase used to mean something different than its current meaning, which is "to act submissively while admitting an error". Once upon a time, the word numbles started appearing in the English language. Numbles are all the yummy bits of meat from an animal carcass: the entrails, the heart, the liver, etc... The word gradually became umble, and then humble, where it began to pick up the "humble pie" connotation we all know.
Another kind of Humble Pie

3.  The Transcendentalist writer and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was a huge fan of pie. According to Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Emerson's mode of living was very simple: coffee in the morning, tea in the evening... but always pie at breakfast" (Holmes 362). Once, he was preparing to eat his morning meal with some acquaintances and offered them each in turn a large wedge of pie. When each one declined, Emerson said, in complete frustration, "But, Mr. So-and-so, what is pie for?" (Holmes 269). I'm with you, Emereson. Pie for breakfast each morning does sound divine.
Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Pie Lover

.14 Not to be outdone, Jane Austen was also a pie devotee. The British author once wrote, "Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness." (Schulz 13).

I'm quite hungry now, after all this talk of pie, and I wasn't lucky enough to have pie for breakfast. Pie for lunch sounds divine as well!

Holmes, Oliver Wendell. American Men of Letters: Ralph Waldo Emerson. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1886. eBook.
Star. (2012). In Brewer's dictionary of phrase and fable. Retrieved from
Schulz, Phillip Stephen. As American as Apple Pie. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1990. Print.
Soukhanov, Anne, ed. Word Mysteries and Histories: From Quiche to Humble Pie. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986. Print.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Charlie and Minnie

I was recently doing some research in the Simpson County News from March 18, 1909 and found this little blurb out of Maben, MS.

The quality isn't the greatest because of the age, but it says the following:

"Charlie Crossin, a 14-year-old boy wearing knee pants, and Miss Minnie Corley, 30 years old, were married at Maben. The boy's parents, hearing of the marriage, separated the couple within an hour and refused to allow the boy to return to his new wife."

While I wasn't able to find any more information on Charlie, I did find a Minnie Corley (her age is given as two years younger than the Minnie mentioned in the article) from Mississippi who moved to Texas, married at some point between 1910 and 1920, and had 3-4 children. Is this our Minnie? It's hard to know with the small amount of information given in the article above, but I like to think so.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...