February 3, 2013

Old words, phrases change often


My friends take pity on me as I struggle to come up with new subjects for this piece. One wanted me to write about words and phrases he remembered from his own youth. He specifically mentioned the word “fetch.” That immediately brought to mind my late friend Al “Jazzbo” Collins, a longtime radio DJ who loved to use the vernacular of the ‘50s and ‘60s in his radio shows. He recorded several hilarious Jazzbo interpretations of nursery rhymes and children’s stories on 78 rpm records. You can find all of them on YouTube these days. One, entitled “Jack and the Beanstalk,” is hilarious. When Jack slithers down the stalk, he hollers to his mom, saying, “Fetch me the ax, mother.”

As I was writing this, our daughter-in-law Judy Baker walked in with some delicious soup for lunch. I asked if she remembered any old words or phrases from her parents. She said her dad, the late Jack Connell, always used the word “wholesome” when referring to somebody who was overweight. That’s a new one to me.

When is the last time you got “all gussied up” to go out? Did anybody ever tell you to “hold your horses”? When I rarely did something right as a youngster, my mother would say, “Now you’re cooking with gas.” When was the last time you awoke with a “crick” in your neck? Did your father ever give you a “brow beating”? Have you ever dated a “strumpet”? If you don’t know the meaning of the word “persnickety,” you must be a lot younger than Kaye and me.

My mother always called her purse a “pocketbook.” Which word did you use for your couch? It could have been sofa, davenport or divan. Did you have a chest of drawers or a chifferobe?

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