Well, it’s a quiet Thursday morning here in the northern paradise. It’s sunny, warm and windy with another chance of showers tonight. The trash is out, along with everyone else’s on the block, obediently standing prepared to be picked up by the trash truck in a bit. CoVid appears to be on the wane – at least, lots more places have dumped the face masks, and you can once again see what another human looks like. Cheri’s at work, the cats have already had their little helping of cream cheese, and have sequestered away on to the chairs or beds for their first morning nap.
So, with not much happening at all on this quiet June morning, I thought I would report to you what happened on this day in history. Only trouble is, not much happened. Apparently, June 10 is one of those unremarkable days. Granted, there were a few things worth noting: AA was established back in 1935; in 1190, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, while leading troops to Jerusalem for the Third Crusade, drowned in the Saleph River in Turkey – kind of put a damper on the proceedings, I would guess; in 1720, Mrs. Clement of Great Britain begins marketing the first paste-style mustard; 1829 saw the first Oxford-Cambridge boat race on the River Thames.
And then there was the parrot. Now and then, as you read history, and scan over births and deaths and battles and elections, you find a small jewel tucked in the world’s story, that is worth repeating. So here goes. Andrew Jackson, our 7th president, had a pretty remarkable life – he was a major general in the war of 1812, winning the Battle of New Orleans. He was a lawyer, and ended up serving in both houses of Congress before being convinced to run for president as the head of the new Democratic party. He survived the first assassination attempt on a president. He paid off the national debt for the first time in the nation’s history. He also engineered the “trail of tears,” where 15,000 Cherokees from the eastern part of the country were marched west to territory west of Arkansas.
He was apparently quite the rough individual, who never had children, and who by his character created the setting for the growth of a two-party system in US politics. He lived to be 78 years old, and died at The Hermitage in Tennessee, today, northeast of Nashville, where he had purchased the land, and bought slaves to tend the crops. Cause of death was congestive heart failure, which surprised some of his enemies in politics, who for years contended that he had no heart.
Jackson had a pet Grey African parrot, named “Poll.” It appears that Poll spent quite a bit of time with the retired president/general/lawyer, because the parrot had not only the ability, but the tendency to repeat quite of few of Jackson’s choice phrases. Those words were not love sonnets, by the way, nor were they elegant speeches or anything of the sort. Frankly, Andrew Jackson was a world class cusser. He knew – and used – most every bit of foul language you could imagine, in a wide variety of combinations. He would cuss people out at the drop of a hat, cuss situations or problems as well, and even in the course of normal conversation, a listener would be treated to a rather large repertoire of curses and profanities, or obscenities, as you preferred.
Well, when Jackson died in 1845, they held his funeral at his home in the Hermitage. Apparently a great number of people attended, including, for some strange reason, Poll the parrot. While everyone was gathering, before the sermon could be shared, it’s reported that Poll got pretty stressed, and anxious and excited to have so many people in one place. As a result, the parrot began to recall and to share – quite loudly, it seems – some of the president’s greatest hits, curse-wise. He screamed and shouted at the top of his little bird lungs the very worst and most colorful language his little brain could put together. And not just a word or two – it went on for quite a long time, probably the best and most fitting eulogy to be offered…
After a while, as the funeral needed to commence, it was decided that Poll’s oration needed to end, and they were forced to remove the cussing bird from the funeral site. We have no historical record of what finally happened to the parrot, but his story will be one of lasting legend, for sure.
I was not aware that on Amazon, you can actually purchase a pretty blue, yellow and white electronic parrot who, when you turn on the switch, will be prepared for anyone who walks close by. It then has the ability to let loose with nine different cuss phrases. It costs $19.77, which has an eerie connection to today’s story, since you would be able to purchase it with a $20 bill – you know, the one with Andrew Jackson on it…
I suppose the abiding truth of this story is that each of us should probably do a better job of watching our language, or if not, making sure that you have a very carefully selected list of those to attend your funeral. That’s the news from 176 years ago today – June 10, 1845.
Word for the day: majuscule. Pronounced MA-juh-skyool. It’s a great word that no one ever uses, although they/we often will use the opposite – miniscule. From the Latin, the word is a “comparative” – maiusculus, meaning “larger, or somewhat larger.” Not quite a large as when something is “major,” from the same root, but bigger than many others. It had it’s most important use in writing. A majuscule is simply a capital letter – one of those larger characters, as opposed to a “miniscule” or lower-case letter. When we all were learning cursive writing, you will recall that we had an entire separate way of writing capital letters – not all of them were just larger editions of the lower case. Remember writing the capital letter, “q?” However, instead of learning to call it a majuscule, we just stuck the “capital” – and that allowed the “miniscule” to go off on its own, and describe anything tiny, or without a larger significance. IMAGINE THE MAJUSCULE YOU WILL SEE TODAY…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.