American Elephants


Do You Even Know What a Spittoon is? by The Elephant's Child
February 21, 2021, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,

I’m currently re-reading Noble House, a big fat novel by James Clavell about Hong Kong, because its one of those old absorbing novels that you get wrapped up in. But in one of the conversations among characters in the story, I ran across the word “spittoon”. Ancient, unfashionable word from the days when men, at least some of them, chewed tobacco. I would wager that there is a large percentage of the population that has never heard the word and has no idea of it’s meaning. And most certainly, they have never seen a spittoon. I did read that spittoons still inhabit the halls of Congress. Not that anybody uses them, it’s just that they are customary.

So, curious, I investigated a little, (and I emphasize ‘little’). Do people still chew tobacco? Well, yes, but rarely. In the wake of tobacco causing cancer, many substitutes have been developed, from all sorts of more palatable plants. Mints, spices that sort of thing, but spittoons seem to have vanished from the scene, except in museums. A spot in a museum seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? There are obviously more important objects. A spittoon was essentially a big round pot with a very wide brim to catch the misses. There were small pocket spittoons as well that you could carry around with you.

Times change and fashions change, But in some places chewing tobacco or tobacco substitutes is still going on strong. Odd




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