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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Rich(bodhránai gan ciall) Whiskey Jars, Guinness Pails - Irish Idioms? (79* d) RE: Whiskey Jars, Guinness Pails - Irish Idioms? 25 Aug 01

OK this is bit off the subject, but not entirely.

The National Road, which became US 40 runs west through Pennsylvania, was once the absolute hub of travel east and west in America. A farmer could sometimes see up to 100 Conestoga wagons led by teamsters in a single day. At the taverns a well traveled and thus well known teamster could run a tab for the night which was kept on a slate. There would be a slot for each teamster's name and the and a column for pints signified with a "P" and a column for quarts signified with a "Q". Now if the bartender in the course of the evening put one or more scratches in the wrong column, either the teamster or tavern would be cheated so it was important that one "mind his P's and Q's". One of numerous teamster expressions now used all over, that began right here in PA

A couple other good ones include an unwritten code which dictated that one traveller came upon another whose wagon had fallen over, sunk in the mud or whatever, he was to help, no questions asked. He could not ask for or accept monetary compensation, however each team of horses was fitted with metal bells on the yoke. If a traveller helped another in need, he could take the other's bells and add them to his own wagon. Therefore, if you expected a safe, uneventful journey, you said that you'd "be there with bells on".

Finally there was a tobacconist where the teamsters could pick up really cheap cigars rolled from a single leaf. They all would stock up and, being travelling with not much else to do, smoke like chimneys. They ate with them tucked in one corner of their mouth, strode in to the barfights with them and were carried out with the cigar still clenched in their remaning teeth. The cigars became so associated with the teamsters, that they were called Conestogan cigars, for the Conestogan wagons, eventually shortened to "Stogies".


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