Pat Shingleton: "Monkey Business..."
Early war ships housed stacked, iron cannon balls. Thirty cannon balls were placed in a squared "pyramid" configuration with 16 at the bottom to one at the top. Reportedly, this application saved space however the ship's movement sent the balls rolling over the deck and sometimes overboard. Solving the dilemma was a metal plate called a "Monkey" that included 16 round indentations. To prevent rusting, the "Monkey" was made of brass that contracts faster than iron in cold weather. The brass indentations shrunk when the temperature dropped and the cannonballs would lift off the "Monkey." Thus the expression, "It's cold enough to freeze the (expletive deleted) off the Brass Monkey." In tomorrow's column, another definition of this "saying."