alma mater the college from which a person graduated.
Blackbeard the pirate a notorious pirate during the late 17th- and early 18th- centuries, who plundered ships in the waterways around the Carolinas.
Bloody Marys a drink commonly consumed at breakfast or brunch that is made with tomato juice, vodka, and spices.
blue-haired referring to elderly women.
brigadier general a high-ranking military officer; in the Salvation Army, one of the highest-ranking officers.
bun hair gathered up at the back or on top of the head.
burning bush reference to a Biblical passage from Exodus, in which an angel appears in the fires of a burning bush.
Chinese water torture an Italian practice of torture, in which water is dropped slowly onto the victim's forehead, eventually driving the person insane.
A Christmas Carol a play by Charles Dickens in which a greedy, miserly, unhappy man is visited by three ghosts, who encourage him to change his life.
Cold War tensions and hostility between the former Soviet Union and the United States, beginning after World War II, that never erupted into outright war but was often on the brink of it.
communism the system of government in the now-defunct Soviet Union, in which a single party holds all power, and wealth and property are divided equally among the people.
confession a Catholic sacrament, in which a person formally declares his or her sins to a priest.
cow working her cud "Cud" is partly digested food that cows bring back into their mouths after it passes through the stomach; they chew their cud to better digest their food, and the chewing motion tends to be an exaggerated version of how humans chew their food.
Diner a local eatery and hangout popular in the 1950s and '60s.
Et tu, Eric a play on the famous line from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "Et tu, Brutus?" in which Caesar responds in disbelief to the idea that his friend had just betrayed him.
Fornicator a person who engages in premarital sex.
Hoos in Hooville characters in Dr Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas; the characters all have rather long, slouchy bodies and round tummies.
hunchback of Notre Dame Victor Hugo's 1831 novel by this name featured a large, hunchbacked, misshapen man who rings the bell in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
hushpuppies small, round cornmeal breads that are deep fried and very popular in the South.
Ivy Leagues a group of eight prestigious universities clustered in the Northeast: Brown; Columbia; Cornell; Dartmouth; Harvard; Princeton; the University of Pennsylvania; and Yale. This group is generally referred to as the Ivy League (singular), not Ivy Leagues (plural).
Job an Old Testament man who was severely tested by God.
Lindbergh baby the baby of aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1932; the abduction was the biggest news story of the year.
Mount Sermon a fictional college that would likely be small, Baptist, and Biblically based.
National Historic Register a listing of historic sites deemed worthy of preservation by the National Park Service.
nor'easter a heavy storm that blows in from the northeast.
Paul Bunyan's bowling ball Outside the Paul Bunyan Bowl in Baxter, Minnesota, stands a giant statue of Paul Bunyan and his ox, Babe. In the statue, Bunyan holds an oversized bowling ball.
penance atonement for having sinned, usually by performing a religious act (such as reciting certain prayers) or by doing a good deed.
RC Cola a soft drink developed in 1905 that become popular in the 1950s; it is still available today as an alternative to Coke and Pepsi.
sinewy lean and strong.
theory of relativity Albert Einstein's famous theory about gravity that revealed the formula E = mc2.
the willies a deeply uncomfortable feeling that may result in a physical shudder.