Since both my grandpas worked on the railroad, one was a conductor on the B&O railroad and the other was an engineer on the Pennsylvania railroad, I can safely say that I came from a railroading family. Therefore, when I think of highball, I think of it in railroad terms other than in an alcoholic drink. So, what is it that I am wondering about? I am wondering why they call two such different things by the same name and why were they given that unusual name. Let me start with the railroad. Back in the old days, if a train station didn't have any pasengers, mail, or freight to load onto the next train, it would hoist a ball up onto the top of a mast so that the engineer could be signaled to keep on rolling down the track and that he didn't need to waste time stopping at the station. The train would just speed past that station without stopping. Later, any fast moving train, especially one speeding past a station, was said to be highballing it down the tracks. Now, I wonder why it is always "down" the tracks or "down" the road. Maybe a subject for another day.
Now, for those of you who abibe every so often by having a "highball" at a bar, have you ever wondered why it is called a highball? It is believed that term was derived from some slang back in the late 1800's when the bartenders called their bar glasses "balls". So, a tall glass was called a highball. Yep, I bet you just couldn't live another day without having this important information, right? (grin) Now, be real careful if you are highballing down the tracks or the highways especially after having a few highballs, you hear?