When I was a young boy on the farm near Asquith, Saskatchewan, it was always exciting when company arrived! Usually, the company was made up of Uncles, Aunts, cousins, travelling salesmen like the Watkins man or insurance salesmen and our older wiser brothers and sisters that had come home from university.
My job as one of the youngest was to be quiet and helpful. This followed the golden rule of parenting, “Children are meant to be seen and not heard!” As the 8th of 10 children in my family, I understood this rule because it had been impressed upon me by my parents and all my older siblings. In other words, I knew my place.
One Sunday afternoon, my Uncle Ernest and my father were having a debate about one their favorite topics, politics. Back then, even I knew that dinner topics that included politics, religion and money often did not end well. On this day, the conversation included all three!
During this debate, my father expounded to Uncle Ernest, “Let me tell you the facts!” Uncles rejoinder was, “Now, let me share the truth with you!”
In 1874, Mark Twain referenced these two words in an extrapolation in Life on the Mississippi:
“In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upward on one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact” … and I like to add truth to this as well