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RE: Silly part name

To: Denise Thorpe <>
Subject: RE: Silly part name
From: "W. Ray Gibbons" <>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 16:27:36 -0400 (EDT)
On Thu, 28 Sep 1995, Denise Thorpe wrote:

> I don't believe it.  I looked up trunnion (which I thought was a fish) in 
> my trusty Webster's and it said, "a pin or pivot on which something can 
> be rotated or tilted; esp: either of two opposite GUDGEONS [my emphasis]
> on which a cannon is swiveled."  So I looked up "gudgeon" and it's a 

> Denise Thorpe (learning new things every day)

Dear Denise,

Well, you see, a trunnion is either a pin upon which something rotates, or
a fish.  It depends.  At certain times of the year, Californians gather on
the beach at night, at high tide, carrying sacks, hell bent on capturing
little fish called trunnions. 

These amusing critters ride in on a wave, stand on their tails, and wiggle
mightily until they are buried in the sand.  Delicacy prevents me from
saying what they do then, but they must truly enjoy it because the whole
process is tiring and dangerous for them, yet they persist.  After a bit,
they wiggle out of the sand, and skitter across the wet beach, trying to
get back in the water before they die.  At this point, Californians try to
capture them and throw them in their sacks. 

This is called trunnion hunting.   I've observed this madness, 
and it is hard to say whether the trunnions or the Californians were 
making bigger fools of themselves.  The trunnions at least had survival 
of the species as an excuse.  

I know it is off the subject, but my grandfather used to be given
trunnions by neighbors after they sobered up.  He fried them up and ate
them, until someone pointed out that he should gut and clean them first. 
He lost his appetite for them after that; he apparently thought fish
magically received nutrition from the water without the complication of a
gut and elimination apparatus. 

Elsewhere, they may go gudgeon hunting; I don't know about that.  The
difference between gudgeon and trunnion is probably one of those regional
language things. 


   Ray Gibbons  Dept. of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
                Univ. of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT
        (802) 656-8910

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