Outdated vocabulary a fond memoryPublished 10:02am Wednesday, May 16, 2012
You may think my column this week pokes fun at the manner folks talked during that era of my youth. Quite the contrary, you see. I write in this treasured vernacular today because I long for those memories listening to friends and family in conversations not often heard in our contemporary society.
I have chosen a few examples to further describe these thoughts.
Ander, a well-known man of our community, had me thinking this was his real first name. It became clear to me while in junior high school that his name was Andrew. Yet, throughout his entire life his friends and family always called him Ander.
Older folks back then would often use the phrase “we will be glad to hope you out”, meaning we will be glad to “help” you out.
When storms were approaching you heard some of them say we must get ready for that ‘hairakin”. I suppose it really did not matter if they used this word to describe a dangerous hurricane. Or, during winter months they had to gather “litard” for their “farplaces”. Lightwood was an excellent starter for glowing fires in the fireplace.
Mothers and grandmothers made sure their children received their medicine taking at least one “dost” “twicest’ a day. That one dose twice a day usually kept those kids feeling much better.
I’ll do my homework “torectly” the young boy would tell his mother. He wasn’t aware that he meant “I’ll do my homework “directly.”
The kind old man would tell his wife “before we go to town I’ve got to ‘Arr up my “tars”. And, his intentions were exactly right keeping “air” in those truck “tires” was the smart thing to do.
I could go on listing to many other old time sayings but I think you get my thoughts. Sometimes we all want to drift back to those older days. I find myself doing it more often here lately. Perhaps my age has something to do with it. In fact I am sure that has a lot to do with it.
I think, too, about old songs I heard my mother and family friends sing back then. I’m sure many of you remember songs like “Will There Be any Stars in my Crown?”, ”If We Never Meet Again This Side of Heaven” and “What Would you Give in Exchange for your Soul?” These songs, of course, reflect religious memories.
But there were country and pop songs so memorable to us all back then. Al Dexter reached the top of the pop charts with his “Pistol Packing Mama.” Eddie Arnold hit it big with his “Bouquet of Roses.” Bill Monroe offered “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and who could forget “Slipping Around,” sung by Jimmy Wakely and Margaret Whiting.
The Saturday matinees kept me glued to my seat. One cowboy used a term that became clear to me as I grew older. Bill (Wild Bill) Elliott told his heavies “Normally I’m a peaceable man.” As a youngster I thought he was saying “I am a piece of a man.”
Harlow Wilcox was the announcer on “The Fibber McGee and Molly” old time radio show. He was written into the show as a character known as “Waxy.” I learned in later years he got that name because it was symbolic of the show’s sponsor “Johnson Wax.”
Other radio shows included “The Bing Crosby Show” with John Scott Trotter directing the orchestra and “The Red Skelton Show” with the David Rose orchestra playing Red’s famous theme song “Holiday for Strings.”
One of my favorite radio announcers was Warren Hull, featured on the radio and TV shows “Strike it Rich” and “Your Hit Parade,” had the lead role in the Saturday matinee serial “Green Hornet Strikes Again”.
“Yes,…it always whispers to me..those days of long ago…” .When I reminisce of those long gone days of my youth, I would like to quote the entire lyrics of this great Ken Nardine narration from “The Shifting Whispering Sands” but copyrights prevent my doing so.
The irony about some of these old terms used years ago is they are still uttered by some today. For example I still hear some people calling a hurricane a “harakin” and the improper “dost” of medicine.
But that’s OK. It carries me back to the days of my youth when I hear these sayings. I would never criticize them for talking in this manner.
Age does strange things in one’s life. It springs tolerance as a very relevant trait.
Two weeks ago I received good response from several of you regarding my taking a stand for the Creek Indians. They told me to be “controversial” in all my columns. But, you know, it’s difficult to be that way every week. Sometimes melancholy grabs me and I cannot uncover controversial elements when I am in that mood.
Be back with more next week.”
Lowell McGill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org