Category Archives: Hodgepodge

Roy Hodge, Columnist – Roy began his career at The Fulton Patriot in February of 1959 as a linotype operator.  During his long career, he performed every newspaper job — from paper delivery to editor and publisher. He has entertained readers with tales of his family’s antics and many interesting Fulton residents in his long-running “Hodgepodge” column. Roy retired from The Fulton Patriot in June of 2010.

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

I always think of Ben Franklin when Thanksgiving draws near.

Ben had a lot of good ideas and did many great things for our young nation. But at Thanksgiving time, I am always thankful that at least one of Ben’s proposals didn’t get past our founding fathers.

Ben was pushing hard to make the turkey our national symbol. The possible impact of what may have happened to our traditional Thanksgiving dinner if that proposal had been accepted always hits me at this time of the year.

Tell me what respectable American family with even a thread of patriotism would sit down on Thanksgiving Day and stare across the table at our national symbol in all his glory on the platter.

The alternative? Stuffed eagle with all the trimmins’ anyone?

Yes, Ben had some good ideas, but I am thankful to wise minds on this one.

–From The Fulton Patriot, Nov. 30, 1993

Ben Franklin’s 5 & 10?

Thinking about Ben Franklin takes me back to a time when maybe my knowledge of American History wasn’t so good and I thought that Ben Franklin owned a five and 10 cent store a few blocks from my school.

Anyway, there it was, the Ben Franklin Store and since I could go there from school without crossing busy intersections, Mom said it was okay as long as I told her where I was going. I liked to buy my mother presents and there was one time when I thought my purchase was really special.

It was getting close to Christmas and I found and bought something for Mom that I thought she would think was really special. It was a Christmas tree ornament and I was sure she would like it even though it was sparkly and orange instead of the usual red and green. I had enough money with me to buy two of them.

When I got home, as always when I bought something for my mother, I wanted to give it to her right away. I didn’t wrap my purchase; I just handed it to her and told her to look inside the bag.

When I gave it to her and she opened it there was a surprised look on her face.  I was young and inexperienced enough that I couldn’t distinguish between a happy surprise look and a puzzled surprise look.

She looked at the bag’s contents for a while before I said, “They’re Christmas ornaments.” When I said that Mom smiled with what, I’m sure now, was a big smile of relief.

She told me many years later that when she opened the bag and saw the two orange objects that looked to her like small, stubby, misshapen carrots she thought that they were the ugliest earrings that she had ever seen. And what made it worse was she knew she would have to wear them so as not to hurt my feelings.

I’m not sure that they were ever hung on the Christmas tree – maybe way in the back – but I do know that they never made it to my mother’s ears, and I’m pretty sure it was a Merry Christmas.

Just wondering!

Are all the cowboys who wear white hats really good guys?

Why does it matter if your pocket has a hole in it if you don’t have anything to put in it anyway?

Is spinach really good for you?

Why is one end of your shoelace always longer than the other?

Why is it that one sock of every pair gets a hole in it?

And why doesn’t your mother (or wife) buy socks which are all the same color and pattern?

Why are you doing your best sleeping of the night when the alarm clock goes off?

How does anyone really know that there aren’t two snowflakes alike?

Why is baloney spelled like bologna, but macaroni isn’t spelled like macarogna?

How come when you ask your kid, who has been outside with his friends running up and down the street all day, to go down to the corner store for you he can’t because all of a sudden he is too tired?

Why is there always more blanket on my wife’s side of the bed than there is on mine?

If hot dogs are really hot why do we keep them in the refrigerator before we cook them?

Why can’t you play a tune on a shoe horn?

Was the short fortune teller who escaped from prison really a small medium at large?

How come the sun is shining outside the window of the radio station that you are listening to when you wake up in the morning, but it is raining at your house?

How come there are no horses or radishes in horseradish?

Why is it that no matter how long we have to get ready for winter, we’re never ready?

“I don’t understand – this shirt fit me fine two months ago.

Why am I asking all these silly questions?


                             …. Roy Hodge

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

A-choo! A-choo!  And may God Bless You!

The sneeze – that sudden outburst from within that lets everyone around know that you are alive and well.

“Where,” you may sometimes wonder, “did that come from?”

My dictionaries are for the most part in agreement as to the definition of “sneeze.”

From Webster’s Scholastic Dictionary: “To emit air through the nose (and mouth) by a kind of involuntary convulsive effort.”

From The Random House College Dic-tionary the primary definition is quite the same. A second explanation is for the term, “nothing to sneeze at.” “Informal, to treat with contempt. Scorn (usually in negative construction):  ‘That sum of money is nothing to sneeze at.’”

Sneezing has been linked to sudden exposure to bright lights, a sudden drop in temperature, a breeze of cold air, a particularly full stomach or a viral infection.  There are sneezes to fit every person – every personality.

Some medical authorities think there are sneezing patterns, that is, in the number of times we sneeze and in the particular way we do it. This may be hereditary and vary in different families.

I seem to remember my mother sneezing only once at a time but making quite a production of it, finishing up with a scream that scared the wits out of everyone nearby.

I don’t remember my father sneezing.  If he did he may have done it quietly into a handkerchief, but in my memory he more often used his handkerchief to clean a spot off of his shirt, to put a quick shine on his shoes, and for various other reasons, but almost never to blow his nose or quell a sneeze.

I fondly remember my Uncle Les. At least once during every time we saw him, while in conversation with my father or someone else, he would go through all the motions of getting ready to sneeze.

His face would get bright red, he would get excited, bend over, make some loud noises as if he was going to sneeze violently. But instead of sneezing he would laugh hysterically and pound his knees. And that was our entertainment for that visit.

Unlike my father, I do sneeze – often four at a time. Recently, I have had bursts of up to 15 sneezes spread over a few minutes.

The nose is the proper channel for the air we live by, and our brain is so constructed that when anything interferes with that channel we breathe it out violently through the nose, and that is a sneeze.

Sneezing cannot occur during sleep; however, sufficient external stimulants may cause a person to wake from their sleep for the purpose of sneezing.

Sneezes move fast

In case you don’t know as much about the mighty sneeze as you should, read on.

*Sneezes travel at about 100 miles per hour.

*Exercise can make you sneeze.

*The longest sneezing spree is 978 days, a record set by Donna Griffith of Worcestershire, England.

*Sunshine may make you sneeze.

*The custom of saying “God Bless You” when someone sneezes was adopted by the Christian world from Pagan practices.

There’s more:

*It is good to sneeze while reading.

*It is lucky to sneeze while beginning an argument.

*It is lucky to sneeze while going to bed.

*If anyone looks at you when you want to sneeze you can’t do it.

There have been suggestions of how to cure sneezing.

One suggestion is to shoot off a revolver or anything to produce sudden fright.  It might be a lot less scary if you follow the second suggestion, which is to press your upper lip hard while reciting the alphabet backwards. I’ll get you started: zyxw.

Sometimes a sneeze can be stopped when we feel it coming by pressing on the nose, halfway down, just where the bone ends.

The following superstitious lines are still widely believed:

“Sneeze on Monday, sneeze for danger.

“Sneeze on Tuesday, kiss a stranger.

“Sneeze on Wednesday, receive a letter.

“Sneeze on Thursday, something better.

“Sneeze on Friday, sneeze for sorrow.

“Sneeze on Saturday, see your lover tomorrow.

“Sneeze on Sunday, your safety seek, or the devil will have you for the rest of the week.”

And, finally, this from A. A. Milne’s “Now We Are Six”: Sneezles

Christopher Robin had wheezles and sneezles,

They bundled him into his bed.

They gave him what goes with a cold in the nose,

And some  more  for  a  cold  in  the head. . .

All together now – “Ah – ah – ah-Chooooooooo!

I hope you covered your mouth and nose and tried to get away from innocent bystanders.

“Gesundheit!”  (And, by the way, I discovered some of the above information in Claudia De Lys’s fascinating book, “8,414 Strange and Fascinating Super- stitions”.

“Oh, No!” Colton

We sent our great grandson, Colton, a photo of our Halloween pumpkin sitting on our deck covered with four inches of snow.

When Colton, who is two and lives in North Carolina, saw it he said to his mommy, Courtney, who is our granddaughter, “Oh, no, there is snow on that pumpkin; where’s his coat?”

                                 . . . Roy Hodge

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

My friend and colleague in the newspaper business, Dick Forbes, called with some distressing news on Sunday.

Vince Caravan, another Fulton newspaperman, who Dick and I had both had an extended connection with, had died.

Although competitors for many years, Vince and I were also longtime friends. I first met Vince when the two of us were “roaming the sidelines” at Fulton High School football games in the early ‘60s.

For many years it was a Monday afternoon ritual for the two of us, along with Carl Johnson of the Oswego Palladium-Times, to meet regularly with Fulton High School Coach Don Distin at Myers’ Restaurant over on West Broadway to get the scoop on local high school sports. Vince and I walked those above-mentioned sidelines together while writing our stories at many football games.

Through the years, although we were the editors of our newspapers, Vince and I met up with each other, often several times a week, with notebooks and cameras in tow to cover whatever was going to make the news in Fulton.

The following is from an article that I wrote in The Fulton Patriot in 2010 when Vince retired:

“Vince and I worked for competing newspapers for many years. We saw each other frequently and developed a friendship.  We were both members of the Oswego County Press Club and Rotary Club.

“Vince has always been one of the most likeable and best known residents of Fulton. It seems that everyone knows Vince. I guess that the existence of one-for-every-day Vince Caravan Lunch Bunches attests to that.

“Vince and I have written about the same people and places for many years.  Since 1991, when The Fulton Patriot merged with The Valley News to become Fulton Newspapers, we worked in the same building and have seen each other just about every day.”

I belonged to one of those “Lunch Bunch” groups before I retired, and there was never any doubt that we all showed up because of Vince.

Vince and I had both completed more than 50 years of service to our newspapers. He became the managing editor of The Valley News in 1959 and its owner in 1972.

Vince was civic-minded, having served as chairman of the board of the Greater Fulton Chamber of Commerce as well as a member of the Fulton Board of Education. He was a member of the American Legion and the Fulton VFW.

Vince enjoyed telling his readers about the accomplishments of others, but he didn’t spend a lot of time talking or writing about himself. I didn’t know until I read it in his obituary that he was the recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for wounds received in Italy during World War II.

Vince Caravan will be sorely missed by his community.

Numbering with the Romans

I don’t remember why, but one day last week I was back in elementary school struggling with Roman numerals.  After a little mind prodding I have remembered a couple of things.

I can count to 10 – I-II-III-IIII or IV – V-VI-VII-VIII-IX-X.  Showing off a little more, I will tell you that L is 50, C is 100, D is 500 and M is 1,000.

And furthermore, this year is MMXIII.  I was born in MCMXXXVIII.  So I am LXXV.

“Who needs to know about Roman numerals,” you ask.  Well, Roman numerals are used by sporting events like the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl.

Roman numerals are also used for Queens, Kings and Popes. They are sometimes used for years. For instance, as I said a couple of paragraphs ago, 2013 is MMXIII. And, Roman numerals are usually used to denote the numbers of our World Wars.

Roman numerals are often seen at the end of the names of people who have the same first, middle and last names as their paternal grandfathers.

You also see Roman numerals on clocks.

So, what is 5:45 in Roman numerals?  I’m not sure that I have ever figured that one out. Well, maybe I have. If your clock has Roman numerals, when the small hand is past V and almost to VI and the long hand is over IX, it is 5:45 (V:XLV). I think.

Why, on many clocks, is IIII used instead of IV?  There are several explanations offered. IIII may be used because that was the tradition established by the earliest surviving clocks.

Perhaps IV was avoided because IV represented the Roman god Jupiter, whose Latin name begins with IV. Louis XIV, king of France, who preferred IIII over IV, ordered his clock makers to produce clocks with IIII and not IV, and it has remained that way.

Okay, enough of the XX-ing, CC-ing and MM-ing. It is XII noon, I have been sitting at this typewriter for almost III hours and I am getting hungry.

Words of wisdom, Peanuts style

Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask, “Where have I gone wrong?”  Then a voice says to me, “This is going to take more than one night.”  — Charlie Brown

All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.   — Lucy Van Pelt

Yesterday I was a dog, today I am a dog, tomorrow I will be a dog.  Sigh!  There’s so little hope for advancement.   — Snoopy

Big sisters are the crabgrass in the lawn of life.”   —  Linus Van Pelt

I think I’ve discovered the secret of life – you just hang around until you get used to it.    – Sally Brown

Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask, “Why me?” Then a voice answers, “Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.” — Charlie Brown

Dear IRS, please remove me from your mailing list.  — Snoopy

(I don’t have anything clever or cute to say.   — Roy)

Have a good week.

                                           . . . Roy Hodge

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

When I was a little kid I had one set of grandparents – my father’s parents, Grandma and Grandpa to me.  There was also Nana, my mother’s aunt, with whom Mom lived with since she was 3,

Nana’s daughter, Iza Mae, and her husband, Dale, were two generations ahead of me and were like a second set of grandparents. Iza Mae and Dale were my mother’s cousin and her husband. They lived around the corner from us, practically in my grandmother’s back yard.

Iza Mae, old enough to be Mom’s mother and my grandmother, was – well, interesting, and liked to talk, talk and talk. Dale was a talented musician who worked for the Clark Music Co. in Syracuse for many years.

Dale loved playing with us kids. I remember him getting down on the floor on Christmas Day to play with our new toys, including the musical instruments we had received. He could actually play boogie woogie on a toy piano, and make real music on plastic flutes and a toy xylophone.

Whenever we went to visit Iza Mae and Dale, we went up the stairs to their apartment and headed towards Dale’s room which was full of toys – musical instruments, puppets and all kinds of other fun things.

I remember something that hung on the wall next to the kitchen door in their apartment. It was a small xylophone–type instrument with a mallet attached that the hostess could use to call the guests to dinner.

And, yes, Dale could play a tune on it.

Any memories I have of my mother’s cousins would have to be 60 or more years old because they moved to California to be near their son and his family in the early 50s. I used to receive Christmas presents from them but I never saw them again.

I am reminded of Iza Mae and Dale often as I go through the box in my dresser drawer where I keep my tie clasps, keepsakes and other jewelry. I have a pair of cuff links that I received from them on the last Christmas Day they spent with us before leaving for California.

I guess that it’s true that good memories last forever.

A Sweet Treat 

My wife often picks out a little sack of bulk candy treats when she does her weekly grocery shopping. In that little bag are two or three packages of candy that bring back memories of the Riviera Theatre on Saturday afternoons.

“Necco Wafers – where have you been?”, I exclaimed the first time I discovered packages of the little round candy treat one week in my wife’s little bag.

The small samplers are about one-fourth the size of the packages that we used to buy at the Riv for five cents. If there was a lull in the action on the screen you could hear the crunch-crunch-crunching of many of the young theater-goers chomping on their Necco wafers.

There were, as I remember, eight colors and flavors  in a package back then – orange (you guessed) was orange, yellow was lemon, green was lime,  pink was  wintergreen, white was cinnamon,  violet was clove, brown was chocolate, and black was licorice.

A real connoisseur could detect a lot of difference of flavors between the colors.

Necco Wafers were first produced in 1847. At the time of the Civil War they were called “hub wafers,” and were carried by Union soldiers. Upon returning home, many former soldiers became faithful customers who continued to buy the wafers.

Sometimes, eating Necco Wafers was a scientific venture – you had to stack all the colors up and munch on them one color at a time.  (I imagine that there are people out there that didn’t realize that eating those little wafers could be considered by some as an art).

In 2009, Necco changed the formula for its wafers.  Artificial colors and flavors were eliminated. A new cinnamon flavor was “less like Red Hots,” a new lemon flavor was more like lemon meringue pie, and a new chocolate flavor was more intense.

However, the changes weren’t popular with longtime wafer eaters, and in 2011 the company switched back to the original formula.

My favorite way of eating the candy back when I enjoyed them every week at the Saturday movie matinee at the Riviera – and now, too, I am discovering all over again – was to put a stack of the wafers in my mouth, crunch them up with my teeth into tiny pieces and then swish them around and around in my mouth.

A little crunching, scrunching, swishing, and squishing, and then back to the popcorn – it was all part of the Saturday afternoon routine.

More sloshing

In last week’s space here, still thinking about catalogs in a follow-up to the column I had written the week before, I wrote: “Something that caught my attention quickly was an ‘Original Slinky’.

“The copy in the catalog asks, ‘Does anyone have to be told about a Slinky toy?’   The description continues, ‘. . . Slosh it from hand to hand.  Put it on the stairs and watch it walk down.’

“I remember the Christmas afternoon we spent doing exactly that. Ah, there is nothing more satisfying than getting nostalgic about sloshing your Slinky.”

At least one person who read that article feels the same way. A good friend responded, “My sisters, cousins and I spent many happy hours playing with the Slinky (probably an original one) at my grandparents’ house – among all the other toys, kick ball in their backyard, and riding home-made go-carts down their driveway.

Many thanks for the weekly study respite, I always look forward to it!”

One more note: All this Slinky stuff has aroused my interest.

My wife found a Slinky that we had put away someplace. Mostly I have just looked at it. But, I have to admit, I have found myself trying a little “sloshing.”  I can only say that I have discovered another skill that hasn’t improved with age.

A parting thought

Summer weather hath September, May, June, July, August, but remember … all the rest could bring . . . winter.


. . . Roy Hodge


Hodgepodge talks of catalogs

Here they come.

The catalog* season has officially arrived.  At our house the catalogs from different sources never stop coming.

We receive many of them in our mailbox all year long, but the annual pre-holiday onslaught begins well before Halloween.

(*Catalog – According to the definition offered by Merriam-Webster, “Catalog is a book containing a list of things that you can buy, use, etc., and often pictures a group of similar or related things.)

I guess that just about sums it up).

I can’t say with absolute and complete confidence that we receive a catalog from some source every day of every week, but I also don’t think that would be a baseless boast. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that we will receive hundreds of the inviting, colorful advertising manuals in the mail.

They start showing up in volume long before Christmas, explode to ten or more a day before leveling off and then expanding again during the pre-Easter season. We do enjoy looking through them and there is usually a stack of them from various sources on the kitchen counter.

“Catalog Kings?”

During a recent chat with our mailman he referred to us as the “catalog kings” on his route.  On most days we get at least four catalogs and on “good” days – or are they bad? – we get many more. I can’t  remember ever asking to receive a catalog in the mail, but wherever they come from they find their way to our mailbox.

Some of them contain fairly useful items – such as a vertical rack that offers you the opportunity to “evenly cook chicken wings and legs while unhealthy fat drips away.”

On the pages of another catalog there is an 18 inch clock / thermometer / hygro- meter that keeps perfect time as it synchronizes the time, even changing for daylight saving time.”  There is a flexible garden hose that stretches to 25 feet and never kinks.

However, not everything is focused on practicality.  Not quite as useful are items such as a tulip spinner with glow ball (?),

a metal “snacking bunny” handmade from recycled oil drums (in Bali), or a “dancing rabbits” lamp.

Some catalogs and their offerings:

“What on Earth”:  The first thing to get my attention was a “Pierogi” shaped ornament, which the copy states “is sure to become a family heirloom.”

One of my favorites is the “Sturbridge Yankee Workshop” catalog which features furniture and household goods for three and four figure prices. I think I might order an “Iron Star candle/match holder” for $7.95.

In the current pile on the kitchen counter are catalogs from “Deutsch Optic”, a German company which always includes many fascinating objects – including in this issue – a Swiss officer’s grooming kit.

Santa Slipper Sox, anyone?

There are also catalogs from “Plow and Hearth”, “Garrett Wade, Where Good Tools Come First”, and “Paragon”.  Their “Santa Slipper Sox” are neat, and “one size fits most.”

The catalog from “Potpourri” features a plaque which reads, “A Meal Without Wine is Called Breakfast.”  “The Vermont Country Store” offers all kinds of intriguing sweets–“Kookaburra Licorice,” in a 2 pound bag for $17.90; also bags of “Bit-o-Honey,” “Mary Janes,” and “Kits,” as well as “Bonomo Turkish Taffy” bars.

Remember those?

The choices are endless from “Old Durham Road,” with goods from England, including recently, Prince George com- memorative items.  One of my favorites is “Lilliput,” featuring replicas of the wind-up cars and trucks and friction-powered toys, like the ones I played with in the 40’s.

We also receive “Pretty Good Goods”, sent our way from Garrison Keillor and friends, as well as catalogs from “Gardener’s Supply Co.”, “The White House Historical Association”, “The Shop at Monticello”, “Gump’s of San Francisco”, and others.

Olive and Cocoa

One day this week there was a new addition to our mailbox – a catalog we had never seen before.  On top of the pile was a copy of the most recent offerings from “Olive and Cocoa,” just in case all those other catalogs didn’t give us the opportunity to order special fluffy plush versions of “Sweet Billy Goat”, “Charlie the Chicken”, and “Orla the Ostrich.”

After receiving hundreds of catalogs in the mail, which was only the beginning, it would take something a little different to grab my attention and make me want to turn the pages.  This one did it.

Just the name of the catalog was worth looking at twice.  Going through the pages, and after figuring out who Olive and Cocoa might be, I was greeted by “The Countess”, described as a “wickedly adorable and hauntingly chic 36 inch tall Regal Countess”.

Other characters scattered among the pages of unique gifts are Raven Bird, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s classic poem; Agnes the Witch, ready to cast “a multitude of magical spells”; Hootie and Priscilla Owl, quietly watching over a mysterious enchanted forest;  and Zanzi-bel and Norbert, “an especially creepy couple.”

Here comes the mailman. Happy cataloging!

. . . Roy Hodge



Hodgepodge by Roy Hodge

Throughout the past summer, and now into early fall, I have noticed something unusual.

I don’t remember anyone — and it is usually lots of anyones — saying to me: “We sure need some rain.” The best reason for that, of course, is that we don’t especially need any more rain than we are receiving. We are getting part of a predicted rainfall as I am writing this.

But along with the rain we have seen the sun shining. It seems to me that the rain to sunshine ratio was just about perfect this summer.

There was a lot of warmth and sunshine and enough rain to make the gardeners at least semi-happy.

I have been thinking about summers during the years my friends and I were growing up on Wiman Avenue. I remember that showers, even an occasional storm, provided us with summer fun.

When it stopped raining we would run outside, often in our bare feet, or wearing our soon to be soaked shoes or sneakers.  We would run up and down the paved street in front of our homes, splashing in the rivers of water rushing down the road, next to the curbs.

In my memories of those summer days of the past, we had a lot more quick and sometimes quite violent thunder showers.

As a small child I was frightened by the loud thunder. My mother later told me that she said, “Don’t be scared; it’s just the angels moving the furniture around up in heaven.”

There was a special place where my mother and I would go during a thunder storm and also during an air raid drill.  There was a shelf at the bottom of the dining room table big enough for the two of us to comfortably sit.

That’s where we would be while the thunder boomed, or the air raid sirens sounded. I would sit and listen while my mother, in her soft, comforting voice, sang to me.

More weather stuff:

From Hodgepodge, July 8, 1996: The difference between “partly sunny” and “partly cloudy”: “Partly cloudy” means more sun than clouds and more blue skies will be seen. “Partly sunny” means more clouds than sun.

When I was talking to John Florek at the city water works on August 14, 2002 he said “There’s been hardly any rain for a month and a half.” John said 0.25 inches of rain had been registered at the water works so far in August.

Looking back a few years in the record books John said, “In the summer of 1992, the summer that wasn’t, there had been 32.5 inches of rain recorded through Aug. 14.”

And the quote of the week in September 1981 from Fred Sumner: “ … and I haven’t even started building my ark.”

Rain songs

You probably haven’t thought lately about the popular songs written about rain.

We all know “April Showers,” “Singing in the Rain,” and “I Get the Blues When It Rains.” How about “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” and “Come Rain or Come Shine”? I think Ray Charles sang that one.

Willie Nelson sang the song, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and you may not remember that a group called the Cascades had a one-hit wonder called “Rhythm of the Rain.”

And, this old popular song: “Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella on a Rainy, Rainy Day,” was recorded by Bing Crosby and Perry Como.

Along with the lyrics of that song I found a definition: “It means that the bad conditions only bother you when you let them. Your smile, a positive attitude or being happy, protects you from bad things, rainy days, and the bad feelings you might have from a situation.”

I remember this little refrain: “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day, little Roy (or Johnny, or Susie) wants to play.”

The following was — and  probably still is — a popular nursery rhyme:

“The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout. Down came the rain and washed the spider out.

“Out came the sun and dried up all the rain. And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.”


“October’s Party” by George Cooper:

October gave a party;

The leaves by hundreds came –

The Chestnuts, Oaks and Maples,

And leaves of every name.

The Sunshine spread a carpet,

And everything was grand,

Miss Weather led the dancing,

Professor Wind the band.

… Roy Hodge

Hodgepodge by Roy Hodge

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.”


I realized that it might be difficult to find a suitable topic for a column this week after stumbling on to an adventure with a visiting rooster last week.

That’s the way life seems to be. It slows down to a walk, everything seems to be under control, nothing particularly exciting is happening, when all of a sudden a rooster appears in the driveway.

Until the day that our soon-to-be friend, Brewster the Rooster, strutted into our lives my experience with roosters had been quite limited.

But there was “Sore-Toes.”

When I was 12 or 13, my mother thought I was responsible enough to take my younger brother and sister downtown on the bus. Her opinion might have changed when we came home carrying a couple of baby chicks in a little box. That practice became a regular Easter vacation thing.

One year, one of the chicks was growing up to be a rooster when it got a foot caught in a trap door leading to our basement and lost a couple of toes. Now you know why we called him “Sore-Toes.” We found him a more appropriate home after that.

For the rest of this column, pick up the Sept. 14 edition of The Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.