Hector's puppyhood was long time ago.


Byline: Sid McKeen


There's an old shibboleth among columnists that for every reader who writes to ask a question or comment on your work, there are at least a hundred others out there with the same reaction who just never get around to it.

So for the benefit of the one reader who fired back a question about last week's piece here and the hundred who wondered, let me explain about Hector.

In reminiscing about my hitchhiking days, I offhandedly described them as "back when Hector and I - and some of you - were pups."

Forthwith came an e-mail message from a self-described "younger reader" plaintively asking, "Who is Hector?"

That's the trouble with an old geezer like me trying to keep lines of communication open with an audience that may range from their teens to their dotage. I often resort to idioms like that. They mean something to me, but nothing to most people born after Ike and Mamie Eisenhower moved into the White House. I have to keep reminding myself that was a long time ago.

Enough already. Back to Hector. From a British Web site called World Wide Words, I copied and pasted the following, which seemed to me to sum it all up quite neatly, even scholarly:

"Only those of us with long memories will know this one well: It was in fashion at about the time that Hector really was just a pup. It began to appear in North American newspapers around 1906 and almost immediately became a catchphrase that later spread around the English-speaking world.

"There's quite a variety of ideas behind it. Hector seems to have been a fairly common name for dogs at the time. This was borrowed from the name of the hero of the Trojan War, the son of Priam and Hecuba, who became a symbol of the consummate warrior. By the early 20th...

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