Col. O’Ridge

By Alan B. Combs

Sometimes these stories are longer; sometimes they are not. This story concerns one of several choirs organized by members of the Garment Makers Union. The lady’s hat makers were slower than other groups to organize. This is because they spent much time seeking the ideal one to sing counterpoint melody far above the usual melody line.

Typically, their luck in finding this person was miserable. One self-appointed songster tried to join the group. “My voice will blend perfectly with the other members of the group,” he promised, but the audition was a disaster. Putting the very best light upon it, the voice could best be described as a screech. In fact, it was so bad (how bad was it?), that the birds in nearby branches tried to fly away, but one bird croaked in the attempt. The singer was rejected immediately, but the malady lingered on in the now well-known maxim, “It was a descant milliner, and he poppeth one off tree!”

This is not my most obscure story, though it runs close. It is the the first line from Samuel Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. “It was an ancient mariner, and he stoppeth one of three.”

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