07/06/2011 10:45 pm ET | Updated Sep 05, 2011

The Original Tom, Dick and Harry Located!

DURHAM, North Carolina - If you were invited to a party that was open to anyone at all, you might use the old expression, "Every Tom, Dick and Harry was welcome to attend." Linguistic researcher Frederick Palmeroy always wondered about the saying's origin, and now, after a seven year search, he's succeeded in clearing up the mystery. "My team has located the original Tom, Dick and Harry who inspired the saying," revealed Palmeroy. "We tracked them down to a retirement home and though they're advanced in years, they're in relatively good health and have sharp minds."

Tom, Dick and Harry Malone, the poorest kids in town, always had to wear hand-me-downs, work jobs after school, and share textbooks. They often went without lunches. Even their parents had to work for the town's other families- - their dad Michael as gardener and maintenance man, and their mom Sarah as house cleaner.

"The other kids teased us a lot about it," recalled Harry. "We were always the last to get picked for sports teams, never got invited to parties, and no girls would go out with us." Dick remembers how miserable the three boys were, moping around the house. "Finally, our parents paid personal visits to all our classmates' parents, complaining about how we were being excluded. Those parents promised that from then on, if there were any parties or get-togethers, we would always be invited. And we were. As was everyone else in the school. It was pretty good for a while."

But then came the downside, as Tom recalls it. "The kids in the in-crowd would arrive at a party, take a look inside, notice us and some of the other less-desirable kids, and say, 'Oh, great, every Tom, Dick and Harry is here -- let's get out of here,' and they'd leave, taking a lot of the kids with them. So we just couldn't win." Later in life, however, fortune smiled down on the brothers and they ended up wed to celebrities of a sort. "We met and married three sisters," revealed Harry. "Of course they have since divorced us, and they weren't all that great looking, but as it turns out, they were the original Plain Janes!"