It is interesting how we use phrases as part of our vernacular without knowing where they came from or how they came into being. I, for one, find the origins of such things interesting.
Take today’s picture. It’s of an old wagon festooned with flower pots, flowers, buckets, wash tubs, planter boxes, etc., a veritable “hodge-podge” of items. But what is a “hodge-podge” anyway? Oh, I’m so glad you asked!
Hodgepodge and its older form hotchpotch are part of a group of words that rhyme all by themselves. Hobnob and willy-nilly are others. In the case of hodgepodge and hotchpotch,the rhyme is not an accident. These words came to English from early French in the form hochepot.The spelling was changed to make the second half of the word rhyme with the first. In French hochepot was a stew of many foods cooked together in a pot. Perhaps the pot was shaken instead of stirred since hochepot was formed from hochier, meaning “to shake,” and pot, which had the same meaning in early French as it does in English now. Before long hotchpotch and hodgepodgewere used not just for a mixture of foods cooking in a pot but for any mixture of different things.
So, I guess in the strictest sense of the word, this isn’t a hodge-podge because you wouldn’t eat it (unless you were a termite, perhaps), but we use the term today to describe any odd collection of things. Kinda like the way my mind works, I guess…
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1870, a drunken brawl turned deadly when “Wild Bill” Hickok shot two soldiers in self-defense, mortally wounding one of them.
William Hickok had earned his reputation as a gunslinger a decade earlier after shooting three men in a gunfight in Nebraska. He parlayed his standing as a sure-shooting gunman into a haphazard career in law enforcement. In 1869, he was elected interim sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas. Hays City, the county seat, was a rough-and-tumble frontier town, and the citizens hoped Hickok could bring order to the chaos. Unfortunately, after Hickok had killed two men in the line of duty after just five weeks, they concluded that he was too wild for their tastes and they elected his deputy to replace him in November.
Unemployed, Hickok passed his time gambling, drinking, and occasionally working as a hunting guide. He quickly became bored and was considering taking work at the nearby Fort Hays as an army scout. On this day in 1870, Hickok had been drinking hard at Drum’s Saloon in Hays City. Five soldiers from the 7th Cavalry stationed at Fort Hays were also at the bar. They were drunk and began to exchange words with the notoriously prickly “Wild Bill.” A brawl broke out, and the soldiers threw Hickok to the floor. One trooper tried to shoot Hickok, but the gun misfired. Hickok quickly pulled his own pistols and opened fire. He wounded one private in the knee and wrist, and another in the torso. The three remaining soldiers backed off, and Hickok exited the saloon and immediately left town
A clear case of self-defense, Hickok was cleared of any wrongdoing. Yet, one of the soldiers, Private John Kile, later died of his wound and Hickok’s chances of becoming an army scout evaporated. He spent the next six years working in law enforcement, gambling, and appearing in Wild West shows. He was murdered in a Deadwood, South Dakota, saloon in 1876.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Why is someone who is feeling great ‘on cloud nine’? Here’s why: types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.