Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Answer Line: Canadian humorist coined phrase 'poor as Job'

Jan. 31, 2018 at 11:41 p.m.

QUESTION: I have a good challenge for you this evening. We've heard the expression that someone is as poor as Job's turkey. Where did that originate?

ANSWER: You know I love it when y'all make me go to the library. Sincerely. Don't read that with a sarcastic tone of voice, because I miss the days when we all turned to reliable sources of information to get our facts.

Also, because we have a great library, and because that library has this great book — "The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" — this wasn't even that hard to answer. (Don't take that as a personal challenge, OK?)

Here's your answer, and it's a pretty interesting one, from "The Facts on File."

"Though the book of Job doesn't mention his having any turkeys, Job certainly was poor and miserable, which inspired 19th-century Canadian humorist Thomas Haliburton to coin this expression. Haliburton, whose contributions to American English were considerable, wrote in one of his Sam Slick tales about Job's turkey, which had but one feather and was so weak with hunger that it had to support itself against the barn when it wanted to gobble."

Q: Is it still a traffic violation to turn right on red at Bill Owens and Loop 281? There used to be a small sign saying "No Right Turn on Red," but it's not there now. The location was monitored by a traffic camera previously. (Don't ask how I know this ...)

A: I'm not judging you and why you know about the traffic camera that was once there.

Longview police spokesman Sgt. Shane McCarter confirmed for me that right turns are legal there.

You might remember that work on that intersection a few years back as part of the Loop 281 expansion helped make right turns on red possible at that location.

Q: Whatever happened to the guys who shot out people's car windows with a pellet gun last year?

A: Longview police identified two suspects, but one of them hasn't been arrested yet so we don't have his name.

McCarter, with the Longview Police Department, told me Edmundo Pintor-Cervantes, 21, remains in jail in connection with the case. (He has some other charges, too, though.) An arrest warrant has been issued for the other suspect.

For the sake of review, someone vandalized more than six dozen vehicles across Longview in mid-October. Vehicle windows were damaged, and eggs were thrown at some of the vehicles.

— Answer Line appears Thursday and Saturday. Email questions to, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write to P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.



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