The Pryor Times

November 26, 2013

The meaning of poor as a church mouse


Mr. Know It All- Gary Clothier

PRYOR, OK — The meaning of poor as a church mouse



Q: Where did the saying "as poor as a church mouse" originate? -- S.L., Sinking Springs, Pa.

A: Being "poor as a church mouse" means one has little or no wealth and few, if any, possessions. The mouse living in a church has few resources for food and warmth -- unlike the mouse living in a farmhouse, where people unknowingly provide food and heat for the home and, of course, the mouse.

Q: Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, becoming the first African-American to play in major league baseball. I'm wondering who was the first African-American to play for an American League team. -- P.L., Rocky Mount, Va.

A: Less than three months after Robinson's major league debut, Bill Veeck, owner of the Cleveland Indians, signed Larry Doby to play for his team. Doby did not play much that year, but during the next season, he was instrumental in helping the team win the World Championship, hitting 14 home runs and having a batting average of .301. He also played for the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers.

Q: Who was the first tennis player to win the Grand Slam, the four major championships? -- B.H.L., Stevensville, Md.

A: In 1938, Don Budge became the first player to win the big four tourneys: Wimbledon, Australian Open, French Open and U.S. Open; however, the name Grand Slam was not used at the time. Sports writer Allison Danzig coined the term that year to describe Budge's feat.

Q: I remember a hot dog advertising jingle from the mid-1970s. "The dog kids love to bite" was part of the jingle. Do you know the rest? -- D.F., York, Neb.

A: Sure do: "Hotdogs, Armour hotdogs. What kinds of kids love Armour hot dogs? Fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks, tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chicken pox love hotdogs, Armour hot dogs, the dogs kids love to bite."

Q: What is the origin of the phrase "saved by the bell"? -- R.T., Calhoun, Ky.

A: There are many stories; here is one: A sentry at Windsor Castle fell asleep on the job and was to be sentenced to death. He denied the charges and said at midnight he heard the bells of St. Paul's Cathedral strike 13 times. After an investigation, it was discovered that the bell in fact did strike that many times on that night, proving the guard had not fallen asleep; he was saved by the bell. Is the story true? Maybe, but probably not.  

Q: What does the word "khaki" mean? -- S.H.L., Harrison, Tenn.

A: "Khaki" is from Persian, meaning "dusty." According to the dictionary, its origin dates to the mid-1800s.

Q: Was the movie "The Three Faces of Eve" based on actual events? -- O.E.W., Pine Bluff, Alaska

A: Starring Joanne Woodward, the 1957 movie was based on the life of Christine Sizemore. Woodward won an Oscar for her performance.

Q: Where was actress Cameron Diaz born? What was her film debut? -- J.P., Dothan, Ala.

A: Diaz was born Aug. 30, 1972, in San Diego, Calif. By the time she was in her mid-teens, she was a successful model and left home to travel the world looking for adventure. At 21, she auditioned for a part in "The Mask" (1994). Although she had no acting experience, she landed the lead role opposite Jim Carrey. Over the next several years, she developed her acting skills in low-budget films. She established herself as a genuine Hollywood star in the 1998 film "There's Something About Mary."

(Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)