a 1956 book by Eric Sloane, tells of the origins of many terms handed down to
example, where did the term “pen knife” originate? In the days before fountain
and ballpoint pens, a feather quill was sharpened to a point, dipped into a bottle
of ink, used to write on paper, then blotted to keep the wet lines of ink from
smearing. The pen knife was invented to sharpen the point of the quill.
differed from millstones. Grindstones were imported from England and Nova Scotia.
By 1840, numerous grindstone and millstone factories were opened in early America.
Grindstones were of fine grit and used to sharpen axes, hatchets, knives and other
woodworking tools. The Grindstone Man appeared regularly on a route through the
country, setting up his foot-pedaled grindstone and a portable sign stating the
business was open.
were of heavier grit, with grooves to carry the grain being ground into meal.
Most were sold only to grain grinding concerns.
| A blacksmith derived
his origins from “a man who strikes” as with a hammer on iron. The term “smith”
is derived from the word “smite,” meaning the striking of an object with another.
A wheel-wright, usually a blacksmith, derived his title from a problem
of a broken or damaged wooden wheel of a wagon, buggy or implement being made
“right” to work properly.
The most unusual origin of all was the barber
shop. Original barbers were also surgeons. Their specialty was blood letting,
a procedure that drained off bad blood, allowing new blood to revive the human
His professional advertisement was a wooden carved arm, hanged
down from a mount, and painted red, simulating the work of blood letting. As this
procedure outlived its time, the barber turned to grooming, often providing bath
facilities in a rear room of the shop. The carved arm painted red, evolved into
a round barber pole with red and white stripes advertising the service.
Delbert Trew -
"It's All Trew"
Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164,
by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by email at trewblue@centramedia .net.
For books see delberttrew .com.
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