Sunday, June 24, 2012

Popular Sayings And Their Origins

I knew a fellow who devised a cheap way to get his pigs to market during winter. He stood the pigs in shallow pans of water, and when the water froze, he tied the pans to teams of sled dogs. The dogs transported their live cargo to the city and were if anything faster than the train, which was slowed by frequent stops.

This did not satisfy the farmer, however, who wished to move even more pigs to market in a shorter amount of time. He attached sails to the pans. Sure enough, the notoriously strong winds west of Chicago filled the sails and pushed the ice pans and their inhabitants even more swiftly to the city.

All would have been well had not a prairie storm spawned a great tornado during one of the pig runs. It blew the swine into the air. The winds were so powerful that for weeks afterwards hogs were found as far away as the rooftops of Little Rock, Arkansas and atop the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

For this reason, folks in Chicago no longer use the phrase “living high on the hog.”

They do, however, occasionally say “a bird in the hand is worth a herd of pigs in an ice pan.”

And now you know what that means.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

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