22 October 2011

Sepia Saturday 97: Just another Cock and Bull Story

Charles W. Stratton II, tintype, 1880s, Lee, Massachusetts
The origins of the phrase "Cock and Bull Story" are debatable but certainly it has been in existence far longer than the photo depicting a young Charles W. Stratton II (1876-1945) with his bull.  Charles continued to love cattle and bred them competitively even after beginning his medical practice.  His cow, Flower, of  Hidden Farm set three records for milk production.  Not all his ventures were as successful.  The son of one of Charles' good friends said that Charles paid a lot of money for prize bulls and entered them in contests.  He hated losing to local farmers but frequently did.  Perhaps he had more winning ways with the females of the species.
American Standard of Perfection, Rose-Comb Black Bantam, ca 1905, Wikipedia

But this wouldn't be a cock and bull story without a cock.  Charles also raised prize chickens. His successful and unsuccessful attempts to win prizes for his chickens are sprinkled throughout his diaries.

Clearly many had a great time teasing the doctor about his farming pursuits.  A pair of Black Rose Comb Bantam stuffed-animals were sent to Dr. Stratton as a Christmas joke.  The newspaper clipping (source unknown) at left was found amongst his papers.  So, that leads to the question of just who was David Scott?  Could Mira (Main) Stratton be the lady in the case?  Hopefully diary entries, letters and boxes not yet explored will answer these questions.

While this was quite literally a story about cocks and bulls, a 'Cock and Bull Story,' more typically refers to an embellished or fictitious tale - usually convoluted and unbelievable.  The Phrase Finder debunks a myth that the phrase originated at Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, England with two competing coaching inns, The Cock and The Bull.  But, should any family member ever open a pub, "The Cock and Bull" would be a perfect name.

More stories, though doubtful to be 'cock and bull stories,' can be found at Sepia Saturday 97.  The connection to the photo prompt of the week is tenuous - a boy and someone looking on through the glass.

Sources:
"A Cock and Bull Story."  Article. The Phrase Finder.   http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/cock%20and%20bull%20story.html : accessed 22 October 2011.

"Rosecomb."  Wikipedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosecomb : 22 October 2011.

Stratton, Charles W.,  II (Lee).  Tintype.  ca 1880s.  Digital image.  Privately held by Liz Stratton, [ADDRESS FOR PERSONAL USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio. 2003.

Stratton, Charles W., II. "Diary." MS.  Lee, Massachusetts, 1901.  Privately held by Liz Stratton, [ADDRESS FOR PERSONAL USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio. 2011.

Stratton Family Papers.  Privately held by Liz Stratton  [ADDRESS FOR PERSONAL USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio. 2011.

24 comments:

  1. How fun. Poor Charles. I hope you are able to find out more about David Scott and where he lived.

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  2. I found your post via Sepai Saturday. Someday I will join myself! Anyway I am intrigued because I was raised in Pittsfield Mass, helped in some restoration work on the Congr. Church in Lee in college, and now live near Dayton Ohio! I enjoyed reading about your great aunt Vi.

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  3. Nancy,
    I am only just beginning. Nearly all of what I have posted so far are things that were scanned years ago. So, I hope to find more soon and have not even begun to research David Scott. Thanks for the well wishes!
    Liz

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  4. Viridian,
    I would love to meet you and realize that I need to add some contact information! Please email me at cliftongorge@gmail.com. I would love to meet you and will be doing research in Dayton soon!
    Liz

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  5. Very clever post. Loved it.
    Nancy Javier

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  6. Oh this was just great, and I knew it would be just by your title! ...and I'm not sure who is cuter the boy or the cow! Thanks! By the way I really like your blog background, the lettering color looks awesome on the black background too! Very nice presentation!

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  7. It looks to me as if you have a lot of detective work to do. What you have written is no 'cock and bull' story. I look forward to reading more Stratton history.

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  8. Interesting story. Hope you find more about David Scott.

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  9. Whata lovely story, and a clever title. The picture of the little boy, looking very uncertain, is charming. Good luck with your future enquiries.

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  10. Karen,
    The blog template was designed by Amy at Amybug.com. I was searching around for images to use for my blog background when I found her website and fell in love with her designs!
    L

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  11. Bob, Postcardy and Little Nell,
    I definitely have some detective work to do! It should prove interesting ....

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  12. Fantastic post! Good luck finding out more information!

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  13. Argh, lost my comment. I'll try again.
    Bravo! You have such an amazing family history. I've enjoyed your previous posts on the Strattons and I enjoyed this one even more having read the previous ones. All the pieces start to fit together. This post was also very creative and a lot of fun.

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  14. Your wonderful tale about Charles Stratton the fowl-fancier pales, at least in my view, in light of that delightful occupational genre tintype. I always look forward to more photographic offerings from you, backed by intersting explanatory notes. Thank you.

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  15. Brett, The bull photo is one of my very favorites - I've a duplicate of it hanging in my hall. I'll try to endear you more to poultry with a stereograph of a hen yard - still trying to identify the people in the picture!

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  16. Looking forward to it, but having been a poultry producer in my past, you'll have to work pretty hard to turn me into a fowl-fancier.

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  17. Wonderful : this is the kind of cock and bull story I love. It has everything and is bound together with style and literary flourish. Sepia Saturday at its best, yet again.

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  18. Prized farmer animals are regretabbly now less common. Every family that has farming ancestors has stories like these but rarely photos or news clippings. A real treasure.

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  19. "FLOWER"???
    you're kidding me, right?...
    Flower...
    :D~
    if he won prizes for her, weren't there ribbons?
    do you have those ribbons or pictures showing them? could be buried deep in those boxes you referred to...
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  20. Ticklebear, Flower it was and I have the news clipping to prove it. :) I haven't seen any of the ribbons but my niece wrote to say that she has a bunch of cow pics in a box she has from the same attic. (I wonder if I can get her to scan them!) Between the cow and chicken pictures and prints, we have all we need to open that pub - except for some good English Ale!
    Liz

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  21. would quebecois beer work for you?
    we have excellent micro breweries here...

    :)~
    HUGZ

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  22. Ticklebear, between quebecois beer and those fantastic photos you have been posting, Quebec is quickly rising on my list of destinations. :)

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  23. one would hope so!!
    there are many things to do/see/savor...
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  24. Great post, thanks for sharing.

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Comments welcome!