Walking around the track at the 'Y' today, Marash Girl remembered her father's laughing definition: He who walks in circles shall be called a 'Big Wheel'.
Going to Freedictionary.com, Marash Girl read their definition of big wheel: "An important or influential person. In use since 1950, this term is thought to have come from the mechanics’ expression to roll a big wheel; ‘to be powerful or important.'"
What that dictionary doesn't mention is that this expression was used, at least in the fifties, in a derogatory manner, as in, "He thinks he's a big wheel!"
Marash Girl's father was amused by folks who thought they were important.
(see post on Robert Burns poem, A Man's A Man For A' That)
He joked about people who prided themselves on "travelling in the right circles", circles of folks who had money and were too proud of it. Peter often reminded us of the woman who told her son, "Dghas, park the car in front of the church so everyone can see that we drive a Cadillac!"
But by the late 1960's, things had changed. Big Wheels were simply tricycles that little kids could ride!