When we first bought our house, I started studying the building methods of the period it was built, tracking the previous owners through publicly available city and county records, and learning about the history of the area we were planning on living in for a while to come.
I found brochures and magazines, information dedicated to the Florida tourist or investor. A wealth of time specific salesmanship! And, I started collecting. I buy in little bits at a time, looking for pamphlets and brochures from the time period when my house was built, or with information on population and industry.
Two recent acquisitions of mine have a couple of choice passages that I felt compelled to share with you. The first: “Tampa Hillsborough County Florida” alternately “Florida’s Newly Discovered Vacationland” on one side and “Florida’s Industrial and Commercial Center” on the other, was published jointly by the Board of Representatives, City of Tampa Board of Commissioners, and Hillsborough County Chamber of Commerce in the 1940s (pictured top left) includes a rather foreboding message to visitors: “…please advise anyone seeking employment not to come to Tampa.”
The second: “Know Florida” a 1939 facts booklet issued by the Florida State Department of Agriculture through The Tribune Press in Tallahassee is an understandably dry, but well written fact booklet with loads of information on industry and agriculture throughout all of Florida, except two paragraphs where the author takes a trip into the most florid poetics I’ve ever seen aimed at my home state:
The shocking change in tone from the paragraphs around it is quite jarring. I suspect that someone else slipped those paragraphs in there. Maybe the brochure was laying out just a little short, or the editor looked over it and thought it was a bit dry, so she pulled out her bong and basked in the Florida love for a while. At least two paragraphs worth.
It’s normal to instantly start paying more attention when you hear a family name, even for those people whose family names are some of the most common in the world. That’s what happened in my house while we were watching ant man and they kept mentioning the Schmidt Pain Index. What was this thing named after Schmidt, we wondered?
The answer is, that Justin O. Schmidt, an American entomologist born 1947, developed the scale to measure the relative pain and discomfort of hymenopteran stings, himself having experienced many in the course of his research and trapping of the insects. After his original paper in 1983 comparing venom properties, Schmidt refined his scale.
1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
2.x Honey bee and European hornet.
3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of Hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream).
4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel.
“I set about kittle pitchering any tom long with a circumbendibus chestnut as soon as I see ’em.”
KITTLE PITCHERING. A jocular method of hobbling or bothering a troublesome teller of long stories: this is done by contradicting some very immaterial circumstance at the beginning of the narration, the objections to which being settled, others are immediately started to some new particular of like consequence; thus impeding, or rather not suffering him to enter into, the main story. Kittle pitchering is often practised in confederacy, one relieving the other, by which the design is rendered less obvious. (1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Francis Grose)
Chestnut – an old story; an often repeated yarn. The average chestnut of the ‘dago’ fruit stand has claims to respect on account of its age, but is not desirable as an article of diet, and ancient stories are equally tiresome (1891 American Slang Dictionary by James Maitland)
So, to sum up: “I start immediately and humorously undermining the stories of any tiresome story teller with a round about, often repeated yarn.”