Okay, the mail is still coming in but I’m “tard” of fooling with this hillbilly/ Appalachian slang exercise because it’s “wore me plumb out.”
Of the several hundred responses to my recent quiz asking readers to tell me what 14 different words/ terms actually meant, only eight responders nailed them with exactly what I had in mind, while over a hundred got 13-1/2 right. Meaning they simply were not specific enough to suit me with one word but got it half right. Another 200 or so only missed one and almost everybody got at least 12. Those with a perfect score are Rufus Harrison of East Bernstadt (Laurel County), Marie Ward of London, Richard Shivel of Jamestown and Betty Alexander of Richmond, along with Letcher County natives Susan Smith Mullins, now in Berea, Mike Majority, now in South Carolina, and Mike Watts of Roxana. Susan is at least 20 years younger than anyone else with a perfect score and 50 years younger than a couple.
Here’s what I was looking for:
• Hard: means hired. They laid him off and hard him back before he had time to draw any rocking chair.
• Tard: means tired . I got tard of this project real quick.
• Give out: means plumb tard. I plumb give out on this job before I even got started.
• Give up: means quit or surrender. I give up on ever getting this job done cause I’m too tard of it.
• Booger: spook, monster, things that go bump in the night. The carbide light blew out and a big ole purple, one-eyed, peopleeatin’ wooly booger chased us plumb to the house.
• Haint: ghost or maybe a booger. I’ll walk by that old house after dark cause I aint a bit scared of no ole haint.
Fur piece: long ways off. It’s a fur piece to walk from Blair Branch to Blackey.
• Rat Cheer: right here. You wanna talk to Loretta? She’s sittin’ rat cheer beside me.
• Jasper: man or boy who’s not from around here or not one of us and should, therefore, be ridiculed. Don’t loan that jasper that moved into John’s old place nothing. He borrowed my anvil and broke it into three pieces.
• Dope: soft drink. The term is a holdover from the early 1900’s when Coca Cola and several other drinks actually did contain cocaine. The late Austin Miller used to holler at me from the porch at C.B, Caudill store, “Get out of the car and let me buy you a good cold dope.”
• Wasper: wasp. Them ole big red waspers can really put the hurt on you.
• Brought up: place where you were raised. I was brought up on Blair Branch.
• Chaw: a wad of chewing tobacco. That jasper took a big chaw of red man and turned real green before he puked.
• Slop: to feed the hogs. Don’t forget to slop the hogs before dark unless you want them to root the fence down.
At least three or four dozen writers confessed to “cheating” by looking the terms up the Internet but apparently Google, wikipedia, etc. believe that jasper is something pure white, a booger is dried snot and dope is simply drugs.
When I was growing up on Blair Branch, several people had “booger lights,” street light-type security lights mounted on power line poles in their front yards that folks like my dad poked fun of because we didn’t have one so he claimed the neighbors had put up the lights to keep the boogers from getting too close to their homes.
The most common complaint about this exercise, even from folks who missed two or more, was that it was too easy.
Rest assured that the next one won’t be and that we will be doing this again after I get rested up and figure out a way to better manage and record the responses.
We had responses from Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana, Wisconsin, Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, Florida, Georgia, Washington, D.C. and even one from Washington State (thank you, John Gebhart).
I lost track of the number of Kentucky counties represented, because it’s impossible to tell where email is coming from. For that matter, there may have been some other states represented as well. Suffice to say that small Kentucky newspapers do get around.
In fact, I can think of no better and appropriate gift for friends or relatives who live a fur piece away than a subscription to their hometown newspaper. Subscriptions are generally very affordable, especially if you take the online route, or if the paper is a weekly as opposed to a daily or triweekly. Call your paper for details.
Columnist Ike Adams was born and raised at Blair Branch near Jeremiah. He now lives at Paint Lick in Garrard County.