I reckon I’m gonna have to save the language

country store

Above, Chewing the fat, during the 1930s

Well, merciful heaven, hep my time, and land of Goshen!  I’ve got to get busy directly, and try to save my grandparents expressions for future generations.

Yesterday, my friend Jack and I took a pilgrimage to his grandmothers old home place in Shannon, Mississippi.  It got us ruminating about our grandparents and some of their favorite phrases. 

I hadn’t thought about those old expressions in years, and have always been puzzled about what they meant.  Jack provided the “Hep my time” which his Aunt Louise used to say.  Can’t say I ever heard that one, and we didn’t have a clue what the message was.

cooter brown We lived in a dry county, but I once overheard my Daddy say someone was drunk as Cooter Brown.  Who was Cooter, and where did he get all liquored up in a dry county?, I wondered.  And what about cattywompus?

“Wasn’t I raised cattywompus to the fire station,” asked someone at a class reunion recently.  At first I thought he was speaking a foreign language.

I remembered my grandmother saying “Well, do tell, or do say” when someone offered a newsy tidbit.  I liked it so much that Lota Mitchell and I began using the terms in high school in the 1960s, and before long all the students at West Point High School were saying “Do tell.” Do you remember that Lota?

I wonder why certain words and expressions fade away over time, and others don’t.

My mother used to say “Gadzooks and little fishes” when she was amazed. What in tarnation did she mean by that? And what is a tarnation anyhow?  She would also get “mad as a wet hen” when we used her newly planted pine trees as bases for our baseball games.

Anyone who wore too much make-up was referred to as high falootin’, and people did a lot of “gallivanting around” while engaging in a great deal of “tomfoolery.”  Me?  I was more inclined to dilly- dally around.

I reckon there are millions of those old sayings that have all but disappeared. If any readers can remember any others floating around in your memories, I wish you would bring them to my attention.

I just got a call from the man who installs DISH to tell me he was running late.  I surprised myself by saying “I thank it’s gonna come a rain anyhow.”  I don’t talk like that unless I’m playing Redneck Girls with my high school classmates. But out of the blue I reverted to a 1930s farm girl. It must be in our genes.

7 thoughts on “I reckon I’m gonna have to save the language

  1. My grandmother use to say, ” Go in yonder” or if you asked where
    something was, she would always say “it’s in yonder”, I always
    wanted to know where yonder was.

  2. GIRL, HAVE YOU CONJURED UP OLD MEMORIES. MANY YEARS AGO I HAD AN ELDERLY GENTLEMAN NEIGHBOR. I CAN STILL HEAR HIM SAY “WELL, NOW, DON’T THAT JUST BEAT A GOOSIE GOBBLIN”. DARNED IF I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS…. SOME OF HIS EXPRESSIONS WERE REAL DOOZIES.

  3. Thanks Nancy and Norma. I’m calling this “research” for my next newspaper column – may I add both of those? A goosie gobblin, huh. Think I’ll google that.

  4. My grandmother used to say “Well, shoot Heck”, kind of like doggonitt.

  5. How about “scarce as hen’s teeth?” That was my grandmother’s way of saying she had none of whatever was being discussed!

  6. How ’bout “Don’t that just shake the rag off’n the bush?” I think that reverts back to the days when old country people would dry their laundry on bushes located in the yard.

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