Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Why We Say: #27

Stoolies, stories, and horsies are on the agenda today.


Unless you’re a fan of James Cagney movies the expression “Stool Pigeon” might not invoke much interest. However, should you tune in some night where a thug is about to give up one of his own you can better understand why Cagney is unhappy with the discovery of a “stoolie” in his midst.

Back in the day when wild pigeons were more on the hunter’s agenda, they used a tactic of tying a captured pigeon to a stool near a net. As it fluttered about in hopes of escape, it would catch the attention of other pigeons who then were lured into the nearby net. Thus, a stool pigeon is one who gives up his or her own after getting captured–usually by law enforcement, who are hunters, in a manner of speaking.


Buildings do tell stories, at least they did so more literally in long ago days of European design. Apparently murals or paintings were rendered on the different levels of the building, which often told a tale or story. Thus, each level of the building had its own story to tell.

I had always fancied the idea that buildings were like books and each level was its own chapter. So in actuality buildings would have to be anthologies instead of books of continuity if each floor were to be independently considered. Then again, when in the elevator, we go to the floor and not the story, although they are the same thing yet referred to differently. I think I have overthought this entry.

There are a few sayings involving horses. One is “straight from the horse’s mouth” and another is “never look a gift horse in the mouth.” Unless the horse is Mr. Ed, why be concerned?  Apparently, traders of shadowy practices, would “fix” up a horse to create the appearance of better condition–even a bit of paint might be part of the refurb process. However, a look in the horse’s mouth revealed the horse’s true age due to the wearing down of their teeth.


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3 thoughts on “Why We Say: #27

  1. I had no idea where stool pigeons came from.


  2. When I read the explanation I wondered if the editors made it up. Hunting birds with a stool–really?

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