I was recently thinking about words and phrases that I heard while growing up that don’t seem to be part of my current vocabulary.
My mother used to say, “Let’s put the kibosh on that right away,” and I knew exactly what she meant. In my mother’s world, “something happening by mere chance” wasn’t considered a coincidence.
It was a “co-inky-dink.” To her, a coincidence was what everyone else called it. I’m sure that when she said, “What a co-inky-dink!” there was more than a slight twinkle in her eyes.
If someone told me to “skedaddle” or “vamoose” I knew that I was expected to leave the scene quickly. If someone was said to be in “cahoots” with someone else, they may or may not have been up to no good.
I never knew what a “caboodle” was, but I often heard my parents referring to “the whole kit and caboodle.” I can recall hearing my mother saying something like, “A fine kettle of fish this is,” and it wasn’t even a night we were having fish for dinner.
I think I have discovered that to most people a stair is a stair, but my grand- father also considered a stair to be a step, and I grew up thinking that same way. In his vocabulary you could go up the steps into the house, or to the second floor; you could follow the steps down to the backyard, etc.
Grandpa called my bicycle my “wheels.” He also may have asked me if I had found my “cap” when I was looking for my hat. I seem to remember the term, “rinky-dink”, but I’m not sure what it meant.
When my father and grandfather owned a grocery store, they were more apt to put a customer’s groceries into a “sack” than in a “bag.”
“Galoot” was a word my father used often, but he had probably never heard it in a classroom. According to Mr. Webster, the dictionary guy, a “galoot” is an awkward, silly person. I guess my father thought that he knew a lot of those.
When my grandfather brought my boots to my classroom on a suddenly snowy day, they were my galoshes or my overshoes. When I was performing magic tricks with my mother’s friends as a captive audience I waved my magic wand and said things like “hocus pocus” and “alakazam.” Until today I haven’t thought about those words in a long time, but I still have no idea what they were supposed to do for my magic tricks.
Because of the invention of the clothes dryer you don’t hear the words “clothesline” or “clothespins” very often. I haven’t heard anyone use the word (or words) “helter-skelter,” which means “in a haphazard manner” lately – or kibitz or kibitzer.
My father was not one to use profanities or vulgarisms. I do remember an occasional “Gol-darn-it” – which followed “ouch!” after something like a thumb was hit by an errant hammer.
Do elementary school rooms still have “cloak rooms”? Do kids still “clap” the chalk board erasers? Do you have your “bumbershoot” ready in case of rain? Are there still padiddles? And one more question. Has anyone called you a flibbertigibbet lately?
A whole bunch of columns
I have been writing this column for a long time. It started back when there was a Fulton Patriot and I was the editor. Throughout the years, I have used many different methods of putting my column together.
At the beginning of my column writing days I’m sure that I had several to choose from each week, some of which I had written a few weeks before.
I can remember getting an idea, mulling it over for a couple of days, then sitting down and writing a column. It seems that there have been times when I have written a column, have it ready to go; then I get another idea, write another article and put the other one on a shelf for later.
More than once, I have rushed through my lunch on production day to do my writing before I have to go back to work. Other times there has been someone standing behind me while I was typing, so they could grab what I was writing to get it into the paper.
Now that I am retired I think I am more organized, though there are others who wouldn’t agree. If I get an idea really early in the week, like well before the deadline, I usually jot the thought down but continue working on one I had started for the current week.
Then there are those weeks when I should have had my column to the paper hours ago and I am still scouring old papers looking for a subject I covered years ago and maybe could refresh it so it looks like new.
I guess it is all part of working on something that gets away each week with being called a “hodgepodge.”