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Yes, there really is a Riot Act

SHARE Yes, there really is a Riot Act

July 16, Monday — St. Swithin, if ye do rain, for 40 days it will remain. Apollo 11 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., 1969.

July 17, Tuesday — Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. Klondike gold strike, 1897.

July 18, Wednesday — Beware of cornscateous air, which is damp and humid and potentially injurious to those with respiratory illnesses.

July 19, Thursday — End old projects today. Be slow to make a promise but swift to keep it.

July 20, Friday — Riot Act took effect, England, 1715. New moon. Moon rides high.

July 21, Saturday — National Women's Hall of Fame founded at Seneca Falls, N.Y., 1979.

July 22, Sunday — A good day for entertaining. Kennedy family matriarch Rose Kennedy born, 1890.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Was there ever really a "Riot Act"? — H.P., Ithaca, N.Y.

Answer: Yes, there was. Here's how you read the Riot Act, preferably to disruptive children or others that may be ganging up on you. It goes like this: "Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons being assembled immediately to disperse themselves and peaceably depart to their habitations or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George for preventing tumultuous and riotous assemblies, God save the King."

If your children are old enough to know that we are no longer governed by a king, it's unlikely they will be impressed, but if it works, let us know. You'll notice that the main intent of the Riot Act, which dates back to July 20, 1715, was to prevent assemblies, rather than to discourage individual misbehaviors, so its proper use would be with quantities of children whom you have reason to suspect of plotting undesirable deeds. We dare say that whenever children get together, they are often in cahoots about one thing or another. In some households, merely the threat of having the Riot Act read is enough to stay a minor rebellion. If the deed has already occurred, or there's an altercation between you and one child, however, the Riot Act is clearly not what you need. We won't hazard a guess about what to substitute, however.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: I know Klondike was the site of a gold rush, but what does the word mean? — R.T., Willow Springs, Mo.

Answer: Klondike was the name of the river in the Yukon Territory near the famous gold strike of July 17, 1897. The first strike was actually in 1896, in a tributary of the Klondike, later called Bonanza Creek. One explanation of the Klondike name is that the local tribes who inhabited that region called it "Tron-diuck" for the fishtrap poles that they used in the streambeds there. When miners heard the foreign-sounding words, they gradually corrupted them to Klondike, which is how the gold rush came to be known.

The miners who had chanced upon the area had come south to San Francisco by steamer, with their bags packed with gold to sell. News of the rich strike in the Yukon spread quickly up and down the west coast, and soon hordes of potential miners were ready to seek their fortunes in northwest Canada. Both Seattle and San Francisco benefited from the claims as they supplied the demand for food, pack animals, steamship tickets and equipment needed by the miners heading north to try their luck. Many outfitters took advantage of the desperate (and, in some cases, newly rich) miners. It was estimated that about 30,000 prospectors migrated to the area and in less than a decade about $100 million in gold had been dug.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: My great-aunt's familiar refrain of advice was to "keep good hours." Did she mean for me to work hard or to go to bed early? — A.M., Concord, N.H.

Answer: Both, probably, although "to go to bed early" is the true meaning. If you don't keep good hours, you might burn the candle at both ends, or burn the midnight oil. It's not a thrifty thing to do, and no doubt she knew that. There are many proverbs about the act of keeping something; you might want to keep the following in mind.

First, keep your powder dry, keep your courage and keep prepared. Be sure to keep your own counsel and not spout off at the mouth. If you decide to keep company with someone of the other sex, to help you keep body and soul together, start out by keeping one another at arm's length. Once you're sure you can keep up the friendship, then you might propose keeping house together. If you decide the other is a keeper, don't keep it in the dark, but be sure you tell them. After all, "finders keepers, losers weepers." In Latin, that's "Meum, tuum, suum," or "mine, yours, his," in disputes of ownership. The old adage advises, "He that has it and will not keep it; he that wants it and will not seek it; he that drinks and is not dry, shall want money as well as I." Who will not keep a penny, never shall have many. "Keep some till furthermore come," say the old-timers, another way of saying, "Keep something for a rainy day." In the matter of good company, however, keep good company and you shall be of the number. If that company happens to be of the opposite sex, offer a suitable keepsake. And finally, if, over the course of time, small annoyances make you ill-tempered, keep your breath to cool your porridge.


Send your questions to: Ask the Almanac, The Old Farmer's Almanac, Main St., Dublin, NH 03444 Web site: www.almanac.com