I should know better.
I made the mistake of looking up the word in my various dictionaries; they pretty much agree on the three-legged business – whether talking of furniture, cookpots or stands – but my 1770 Johnson is most specific: limited to furniture and described as “...a seat with three feet, such as that from which the priests of Apollo delivered oracles.”
Priests of Apollo notwithstanding, other uses for tripods developed; here’s a photograph of one from my magical box of family photographs.
This is my father at engineering camp in 1938(give or take a year or two), while he was a student at
. Brown University
After college, after World War II, he went on to become a successful civil engineer; he built a swing bridge at the harbor in Osterville, Massachusetts in 1946 (the year I was born – it’s still referred to as “Deb’s Bridge in my family).
During the early 1950s post-war transportation expansions in the
he built bridges on Route 128, the “new” highway around Boston;
one of those bridges won an award for the Best
Bridge in , (but was torn down later when
the road expanded again). Massachusetts
And then we moved to
Maine, where he built a
series of bridges in .
They are still standing, and I drive over them occasionally; my tires thump
over the joints between the sections of the bridge, and I am amazed that he is,
in a sense, still holding me up... South Portland
Well, how about The Tripods, a series of young adult, post-apocalyptic novels written by John Christopher in which tripods are three-legged mechanical walking machines (controlled by “masters”) who dominate humans...ended up being a British/Australian TV series (any British or Australian Sepians care to comment?).
And then there’s James Lee Burke’s Cajun protagonist Dave Robicheaux, a detective with the
police department. He’s an alcoholic, a New Iberia, Louisiana veteran and is,
consequently, plagued by various demons; he also has a three-legged raccoon
named Tripod. Vietnam
There’s also a tripod fish (it has a ray that extends between its two pectoral fins to create the tripod effect – it’s pretty amazing!); a tripod headstand in yoga (your head and your hands are on the ground); and, finally, Garden Tripod Magazine, a fine arts publication.
I’ve even heard of people calling three-legged dogs and cats “tripawds,” but that’s a little over the top, don’t you think?
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