Thursday, March 17

The Story of St. Patrick - Cashin's Version

Editor's note:

It seems there at least as many versions of the story of Saint Patrick as there are story tellers. My story can be found here. Art's story appears below. I hope you enjoy both but please don't compare mine to his because I'm sure to lose in that comparison. If you wait to read mine until you have consumed several shots of Jamesons it will have a better chance.
Grant Davies

By Art Cashin

On this day in the year of our Lord 389, there lived a foin broth of a lad who was.... dependin' on the boyographer ye read: a Spanish peasant, a French herdschild, a Celt from Bannavem or a Gael from Dumbarton, Scotland. At any rate, at age 16 this lad was kidnapped by pirates and sold to one of the only 2500 Irish kings that were reigning at the time.

He served this King as a swineherd mucking out stys and such. For six years he labored in slavery, poorly fed; often beaten; surrounded by people in strange dress who spoke a language he couldn't understand. Then he discovered that six years of such treatment was equivalent to a parochial school education. So he became a Catholic and escaped to France to become a monk.

Upon becomin' a bishop he mistakenly perceived the French to be a bunch of snail eatin', grape juice drinkin', truffle huntin' toads. He longed for the emerald green fields of God's own land and the special amber holy water found there. He returned to Ireland, which was still under the influence of a
group of heathen English druids and a few nocturnal banshees. Nonetheless, he set about convertin' and baptizin'.

Unfortunately, Patrick was not an MBA and did not know the law of diminishin' returns. So he managed to baptize over 120,000 people, built over 300 churches, chased the snakes out of Ireland, developed the shamrock and established a factory to make pennants carryin’ the slogan "Go Notre

To celebrate the life of this fabulous man, sing ye some sad songs, talk ye merrily of battles and take ye a wee nip of somethin' till ye might be seein' da little people.

Wednesday, January 20

The Robber Baron of Arizona

James Addison Reavis
By Art Cashin

On this day (-2) in 1896, one of the greatest schemes in American history began to come apart - just as it was on the verge of changing the future of the nation. The scheme was to lay a land grant claim on what was virtually two states - Arizona and New Mexico. But it had all started earlier and simpler.

During the Civil War, a certain James Addison Reavis was kind of the "Radar O'Reilly" of the Confederate Army. He managed to get officer's signatures on passes and requisitions without troubling the respective officers. was so good that after the war a pal took him to St. Louis where he showed creativity in the office of public deeds.

In 1871, he met George Willing who had a very creative mind but very poor "penmanship." Willing suggested "back signing" and "redrawing" old Spanish land grants. Reavis began to think Willing was thinking small. But he needn't have worried, because Willing died of poisoning shortly thereafter.

Reavis traveled to Mexico and spent some time in missions, monasteries and libraries. He mastered the language and idiom of formal documents of the 1600's and 1700's. Shortly thereafter, he emerged to lay claim to the fabulous "Peralta Grants." And fabulous they were - they showed Reavis to be the owner of nearly 19,000 square miles of Arizona and New Mexico.

Panic set in immediately. The Southern Pacific paid Reavis $50,000 good faith deposit to protect its right of way. The fabled Silver King Mine gave $25,000 as the first year's rent. And when Reavis, amid great pomp, married a "Peralta Heiress" (a poor Mexican girl he set up with phony credentials), he claimed thousands more square miles. Soon there were lines of folks waiting to give money to the "Baron of Arizona." But as your grandmother said "Pride cometh before a fall" (maybe that was my come to think of was "four Manhattans cometh before a fall).

Anyway, Reavis got a case of the "haughties" and turned down a newspaper interview. The publisher decided to do a background piece anyway. It was then that he noticed the type-face on some of the documents was of rather recent origin. He then talked an official into letting him see one of the "official documents." He noticed the century old parchment paper had a watermark from a factory in Wisconsin. Since neither the King of Spain nor the original Don Diego Peralta were known to cavort with cheeseheads, an odor ensued.

On this day in 1896, the Baron of Arizona was indicted. He was quickly convicted and sent to prison. Later released, he died a pauper in 1908. There lies a lesson - forge not on recycled paper.

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

Thursday, December 31

Our Old Acquaintance, Bob

By Grant Davies

On this night in 1787, people in Scotland got together, lifted a glass, and sang a song. "Big deal" you say! They do that in Ireland every darn night. Come to think of it, if the joint is open long enough, they do that everywhere a glass of intoxicating beverage is to be lifted. So what makes this night special enough to make note of it?

Well, that was the year the above referenced song was first published. The guy who is credited with writing it, Rab Mossgiel, was rather famous among his fellow Scotsmen for writing other poetry. Rab was just his pseudonym. I guess he liked it better than his real name, Bob. More on that in a moment.

Anyway, the guy actually admitted that he didn't compose it himself, but merely wrote it down after hearing it from "an old man." It's pretty certain that the old man didn't write it either.

The poet's actual name was Robert Burns. And it seems the song was initially sung on January 25th - also known as "Burns Night"-  to celebrate his life and works. But it's normally sung to wave goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new, hopefully better, year.

The song has a rather weird title that is translated from old Scottish English into modern English as "Old Long Since." I guess it made more sense back then. The rest of the words are almost as difficult to piece together too. But most people over a certain age (my age) recognize them well enough.

The song asks the question, should we just forget about our old friends? Well, I guess not. So then, shall we raise a glass and toast them and all the good times we have had with them? Hell, yes!

By now you have probably guessed that the song is the well known New Year's Eve standard, Auld Lang Syne. And the "cup of kindness" is some sort of booze that is being used to toast good fellowship and not forgetting our friends no matter what happens in the new year.

To celebrate the song, go down to the "Auld Neighborhood Inn" with some friends and order "a cup of kindness" from the bartender. Just make sure "it comes to mind" to tip him well. After all, a bartender is a man's best friend and definitely should not be forgot.

  Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wandered mony a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught

For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Most of the information for this post was gleaned from

Monday, December 21

A Visit From Clem

By Art Cashin

On this day in 1823, a New York publisher issued a poem by a professor of Oriental and Greek literature.

Now, if that wasn't enough to scare most people off, the guy was also a clergyman. Several people who knew poetry told the publisher it was a terrible waste of paper and ink. Such a little trifle as Clem's poem wouldn't be remembered days later let alone years later.

But this flimsy verse which began "Twas the Night Before Christmas...." tended to hang on. And, after its author, Clement Clark Moore, died it was illustrated with drawings by Thomas Nast. Now it really took off. Not only did we know the legend of Santa, now we knew what he looked like.

To celebrate the birth of a classic, have an eggnog or two. Tell the red-faced guy, with a beard, on the next stool he can make extra Christmas money betting people they don't know the real name of the poem. ("A visit from St. Nicholas".)

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

Friday, November 20

The Problem With the President's Popularity

President John Tyler
By Art Cashin

On this day (-2) in 1843, a President learned that messages from the public at half term can sometimes be unfriendly. His name was John Tyler. As you recall from fourth grade, Tyler - the back half of "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" - had ascended to the presidency when the front half (William H. Harrison) caught the attention of the Guinness people by dying after only thirty days in office.

Anyway, Tyler stepped in and seemed never to capture the popularity of his predecessors almost from the day he took office. Even his wife was somewhat controversial. Some thought she was a bit too pushy or up-front.

Frustrated by newly sagging polls and some Congressional election reversals, Tyler decided to take a small vacation - a little trip. He sent his son down to the railroad station to arrange a special train for the trip. The station master and his staff told the young man something like - "We don't provide special trains for politicians." Young Tyler responded by noting that the B&O had made a special train available for the corpse of the late President Harrison. The station master reportedly said - "Bring me your father in the same shape as President Harrison and we'll be glad to get him a train."

To mark how far we've come since those hostile old days go visit some affable office holders. But don’t mention anything to the folks running for President.

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

Editor's Note: Here is another article about Tyler that I wrote in the past. You might enjoy re-visiting it.   Grant Davies

Tuesday, October 13

Everything You Thought You Knew About Chris

By Art Cashin

On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus landed at the Bahamas, believing that he had landed in the islands off Japan. And so history is indebted to a man with a flawed theory who set out on a venture where he didn't know  where he was going, suffered sharp losses on the way and didn't know
where he was when he got there. And he did it all on borrowed money. But if Columbus had things confused, folklore has really muddled what happened.

Back in August of 1492 Columbus had set sail from the port of "Palos de Frontera" on the west coast of Spain with a squadron of three ships to seek the riches of the East.

Error #1 - Columbus headed for a new land. (Actually, he thought he was sailing to China or Japan.)

Error #2 - he was a mighty sailor. (In two earlier launches some of the ships he selected leaked so badly they had to rush back to port and were replaced.)

Anyway, as we all know, the advisors to Ferdinand and Isabella warned their collective royalness that Columbus would sail off the edge of the earth. That's error #3 - actually, they thought Columbus had underestimated the size of the globe and thus would run out of fresh water before he could reach China. Perversely, today's computers indicate the negative advisors were very accurate while Columbus was off by many thousands of miles. Luckily, the unexpected "New World" and its fresh water stood in the way.

So! You say - "So what! Mr. Smarty Pants!" Even if he was not who he seemed to be, nor was much of a sailor, landed in the wrong place and miscalculated much of the way - the great drama was that he did it - and on borrowed money at that. (Op. Cit. Queen's necklace fable.)

Well, despite what your version of Sister Herman Joseph told you that's error #4 - the Queen never hit the hock shop with the jewels. What had really delayed the trip for nine month's was greed - Columbus'. In his employment contract he demanded: 10% of whatever he found, a Knighthood, an
Admiral's title and a Viceroy's title (both to be hereditary) and 10% of the profits on all naval imports thereafter.

When F and I turned him down, he had tried for the same deal at various palaces around Europe. Finally, an advisor convinced Isabella that actuarially Columbus had a good shot of dying on this or some subsequent voyages, so the Queen signed the deal.

To celebrate make note of some valuable discovery you've recently made. Then drop a hefty employment contract on the boss's desk - but don't insist on an Admiralcy - you'll probably look greedy.

Monday, September 28

Sixth Grade History You Probably Forgot

Pompey Magnus
By Art Cashin

On this day (+2) in 48 B.C., one of ancient Rome's most brilliant generals, a certain Pompey the Great landed on the shores of Egypt.

(Mr. Cashin! Yes Sister? Please try to remember the general's name is pronounced Pom-pea; Pom-pay was the name of the city buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. If you don't pay more attention, you'll never remember enough history to get out of the 6th grade, let alone enough to ever help you in business! Do you understand?? Yes Sister!!)

Anyway, flashbacks aside, Pompey landed in Egypt - kind of "on the run." As you may recall from earlier episodes (or from the 6th grade), Rome was going through a parliamentary crisis. A popular reformer named Julius Caesar was busy dividing Gaul into three parts and sending reform suggestions to Rome. The Roman Parliament (pronounced "Senate") sent a nasty note (on parchment) to said Caesar - saying he had a lot of Gaul and ordering him to come home for a spanking and to please leave his army behind. Said Caesar headed home and took the army with him (across the Rubicon don't-cha know!).

Since that was considered bad form (pronounced formus stunkus), the Roman Senate called upon a former war hero for protection. The guy picked was Pompey the Great (page 6 in your program) - victor over Spanish Rebels (76 B.C.), over a certain "Spartacus" (72 B.C.) and over that early Hitler, King Mithridates (63 B.C.).

Despite this veteran's record, said Caesar made salad out of Pompey at the Battle of Pharsalus (beating him badly with an army half the size of Pompey's). This led Pompey to flee to his last known ally, Ptolemy XIII (pronounced Friday the 13th), King of Egypt and the Nile Delta. Ptolemy XIII (age XV) was at war with his pudgy sister. So, with Ptolemy XIII needing no new enemies (i.e. said Caesar), Ptolemy had his old ally assassinated (i.e. Pompey, who was stabbed as he got off the boat).

Said Caesar sensed that such habits did not make Ptolemy XIII (age XV) a great candidate for new best friend. So, said Caesar threw in with the pudgy sister named Cleopatra.

What happened next...I forget! (Sorry Sister!!)

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.
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