A Lefty Celebration
Today, August 13th, is International Left-Handers Day. A day that is set aside annually to celebrate the uniqueness and differences of left-handed individuals. The day was first observed in 1976 by Dean R. Campbell, founder of Lefthanders International, Inc.
Throughout history being left-handed was considered negative, or evil. The Latin adjective “sinister” means "left" as well as “unlucky.” And in French “gauche” means both "left" and "awkward" or “clumsy.” Lefties tend to take a pounding in many languages including English. The word for the direction “right” also means “correct” or “proper.” And how about a "left-handed compliment" that has two meanings, one of which is unflattering to the recipient.
Studies show 7-10% of the population is left-handed, and because we’re in the minority, it means that everything from a mouse for the computer, to scissors and musical instruments are typically designed for right-handers. If you look hard enough you can find more and more products that are designed for lefties, but that has only happened in the last 30 years.
In a much earlier time, my Mother, who was born left-handed, told me tales of her being smacked with a ruler by school teachers for writing with her left hand and was forced to write, right-handed. Fortunately, that practice had ended by the time I started school.
I do remember when I was a kid, going to a sporting goods store and staring at an entire wall of baseball gloves. A wall of leather, with only a couple of left-handed gloves, and half of those would be pink or blue! And as recently as the early ’60s, our Little League Baseball catcher, Morley Langton, was left-handed and had to have a left-handed catcher’s glove custom-made for him, there just weren’t any in the stores, and of course, this was long before “ordering online!”
When I was very young, my Dad bought me my very first baseball glove, but it was for a right-handed throwing player. Therefore it’s worn on the left hand. When we first played catch in the backyard, I would catch the ball, take the glove off and throw the ball back with my left hand. My Dad was shocked, and said “You’re a “Silly Sider.” His nickname for a Lefty.
Add that nickname to others, like “Southpaw.” That was another nickname I received over the years and always wondered where the name came from. I was told that Southpaw comes from the baseball world. See if you can follow this explanation. In the early days baseball diamonds were designed so that the pitcher faced in a westerly direction when looking at the batter. The batter would face east, so the setting sun wouldn’t be shining in his eyes. With the left-handed pitcher facing west, his throwing arm would be to the south, hence the name Southpaw!
We lefties have sad tales about trying to cut paper with right-handed scissors (yes there is a difference) or having to constantly move a glass or coffee cup from the right-hand side of the place setting to the left. And having knuckles stained blue with ink while trying to write a sentence on a piece of paper. I’d come home every day from school with my blue knuckles that had been dragged across fresh ink all day long. Small things, but it’s what happens when you live in a right-handed world. I got lucky though, years ago as a birthday present, my Dad bought me a left-handed hammer!
One more whining story. The other day I paid a visit to a music store that specializes in guitars and was shocked to find it didn’t have one left-handed acoustic guitar. Not one! Apparently, that very thing happened to the late musician David Bowie. As the story goes, David Bowie was left-handed, however, he taught himself to play guitar right-handed! Why? There weren’t any left-handed guitars in the store when he went to buy one! Jimi Hendrix played left-handed, on a right-handed guitar. In the 1960s left-handed guitars were hard to find, and when you did find one, it was usually expensive. So he just flipped over the right-handed guitar and re-strung it lefty. And of course, no mention of left-handed musicians is complete without Paul McCartney one of the most famous bass players who plays lefty.
There’s one advantage to being a lefty that I discovered when I was interviewing NHL tough guy Dave “The Hammer” Schultz. The Hammer was quite the fighter on ice. He wrote a book about his life as a hockey enforcer and I interviewed him about the book on the Vancouver Show. Dave explained in his book how he won most of his fights and I asked him to demonstrate during the interview. Dave said, “I reach across and grab my opponent by the Jersey with my left hand, and use my left arm to block any punches he throws, so go ahead, try to hit me!” I threw a punch and hit him on the jaw! “Hey!” he said. “Dave, I’m left-handed.” His theory worked for someone punching with their right hand, but he was wide open for a left-handed punch. Try it at home and you’ll see what I mean. Score one for the Southpaw.
We do have some famous Lefties in our ranks. Here’s a short list:
- Barack Obama
- Bill Gates
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Lady Gaga
- Julia Roberts
- Judy Garland
- Whoopi Goldberg
- Oprah Winfrey
- Albert Einstein
- Leonardo Da Vinci
- Rick Forchuk
- And Juanita, yes our Blue Frog’s Juanita!
A wise guy once said: “If the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and If the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, then only left-handed people are in their right minds.”
And…“Everyone is born right-handed, only the greatest overcome it.” Haha! Left On! August 13th is our day to celebrate!
Till next week…Left on!
1 // Einstein 2 // Oprah 3 // Jimi Hendrix
4 // Lady Gaga 5 // Paul McCartney 6 // Juanita (our very own!)
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White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2