The word brickbat is not unfamiliar, however. My mother and grandmother both used the phrase "harder than a brickbat" often, and I grew up saying it myself.
A sentence using the word brickbat might go like this: "That cake that Chesapeake Bay Woman just baked is as hard as a brick bat. You'd break off an eye tooth biting into that thing. Quick! Throw it in the trash before she comes back."
I just assumed everyone knew what that meant. But then one day I left Mathews.
For example, if I said, "That poor woman is uglier than a mud fence," they just howled with laughter. "What is a mud fence?" my friend Iris would say.
Or they'd ask, "Why would you go to a court house to go shopping?"
Well, you can imagine how they reacted when I first said that something (probably a piece of bread or some science experiment in the icebox--another foreign word to them) was "harder than a brickbat."
Next came the inevitable question: What exactly is a brickbat, anyway? Anyone? Bueller?
I didn't--and still don't--know.
So to solve this mystery I called upon my BFF Wikipedia, who directed me to an on-line dictionary, which said this about brickbats:
Main Entry: brick·bat
Etymology: brick + 1bat (lump, fragment)
1 : a fragment of a hard material (as a brick);
2 : an uncomplimentary remark
The term dates back to 1579? That's only a a couple of decades before
But this still didn't sit well with me. Why would they call a street in the court house Brickbat Road?
Another website, oldhousejournal.com, brought me a little bit closer to a more likely answer. Speaking of historic buildings and how to properly replace and repair centuries-old brick, it referenced high-fired exterior brick and low-fired interior "bat" or "clinker" brick.
Since Brickbat Road hugs the historic court green, which is loaded with centuries-old buildings, I'm going to assume the road name has to do with the brickwork on those structures.
Am I the only one who wants to do another Womanless Beauty Pageant, like next weekend?