Willies, the

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4 comments on this post.
  1. Dave Patterson:

    Simple answer: There was a time when Willie Mays and Willie McCovey were back to back in the SF Giants lineup. They gave opposing pichers “the willies” with their hitting clout. It is the modern origin of the term coined by the sports writers of the time, still used today by baseball fans and non-fans alike.

  2. May:

    The willies is a spontaneous physical reaction in the form of a upper body head, shoulder and inner ear jiggle like a cold wave or tickle of anxiety. While mainly creepy things, the source doesn’t have to be. Its also known as the feeling of someone walking over your grave. Also, an acutely sour substance in the mouth can cause the same reaction. Note when a baby tastes something awful how the child’s head wiggles.
    It isn’t a grate on your nerves fingers on the blackboard thing.

  3. June:

    The reference is to the Willey House tragedy of 1826. A rain storm flooded the Saco River in North Conway, NH, and
    started a mudslide. The Willey family all ran out of the house to escape the flood, but were caught in the resulting mudslide. The next morning rescuers found that the house had been saved by a large rock outcrop, but the entire Willey family had been carried away. The Willey house burned in 1926, but there is a commemorative plaque in the Crawford Notch State Park.

  4. Dave:

    I heard the same story as June, with some difference: Mr.Willey anticipated the landslides in the area and built a separate place to go, a shelter. In twist of sad irony, the family all hid in the shelter which was destroyed, while the house survived. Later though, some thought that the children had survived in the woods and were living wild. The feeling one got in the woods if you thought you saw the Willeys was thus described as “the Willeys.” This was told to me last week at the NH state historical museum in Concord.

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