From time to time my son hears from Billy Reynolds, a Minden boy (man), who now lives in Thailand with his family. He reads the Minden Press-Herald on the Internet and always seems to enjoy my articles and John’s articles. He sends me message through John. This past week he sent John a list of “forgotten” phrases that we always used,and thought I might like to see them. Most of them I can relate to, but those about cars I do not know about, such as “fender skirts” and “Continental.” However, I have selected about ten or twelve of the long list and have added about twelve or so of my own observances of changes in my lifetime. If you think of others call me and I’ll add them to my list to run again.
Pens, Jars and Lard
We talked of “fountain pens” that we filled with ink from an ink bottle. How wonderful are the pens of today that do not have to be filled with ink. No more “fountain pens.”
No more “fruit jars” they are just ‘jars ‘- pints, quarts, half pints.
Nor do we say “syrup bucket” and we send someone to pickup the plastic bucket to use.
I still say “sweet milk”. No one says that today, they just say “milk” because not many people would drink buttermilk. In the case of meaning buttermilk we still would say “buttermilk”.
How about “phonograph”, that is obsolete, too. We use DVD players,tape players, and other types of things that music is now recorded on.
Shortening is the word today, but long ago it was “lard”. Now we often just say “Crisco.”
Billy mentioned us talking about “emergency brakes”, and he said it is now “parking brakes.”
Another change is in the running board of a car. Long ago children climbed on the running board and rode into the garage or the driveway with their Daddy. My experience with the running board is painful. My husband, J. C., came to pick me up for church the spring before we married. I put my foot on the running board so that I could step into his car. My foot slipped off the chrome molding and I fell, and I mean fell, I fell under the car. I was hurt, but not as much as my dignity was demolished. That running board was very narrow by 1948, and is non existent today.
We talked of “store bought clothes” because most all our clothes were homemade. Today we never hear that phrase because most of us buy “store bought” things .
And when a lady was expecting a baby,the proper way to refer to that condition in a nice way was to say she was “in a family way.”
We mentioned “wall to wall” carpet, because that was what everybody wanted. Today carpet is not the first choice, it is beautifully finished hardwood floors. My home has beautiful flooring under my “wall to wall” carpet,but I will not be using it. When we first married in 1948 we had open floors with a few throw rugs. My mother had heart trouble, and we had to summon Dr. Cook to come to the house to care for her. As he walked hurriedly through the living room, he stepped on one of the throw rugs and he skidded and skated for several feet until he came to the wall. He turned around and said “get rid of these–––-rugs, before somebody breaks a hip.” He used a bad word as an adjective to describe the rugs. I did exactly what he demanded and I still have “wall – to-wall” carpet,and plan to keep it until I die.
We didn’t say we were going to the movies, we were going to a picture show. Now you never hear that, it is just the movies.
What about “Light bread” and now it is just “bread?”
Ice Box is a throwback to my generation when we had a wooden box that held a chunk of ice. We chipped enough off to cool our tea, and hoped the chunk would last until the iceman came again.
Dinner or Supper
How about thinking how long since someone made coffee in a percolator. My coffee is in a “Mr. Coffee” and there are so many coffee machines, different makes, and sizes. But no percolators.
When I grew up the noon day meal was dinner and the evening meal was supper. Now it is lunch and dinner. Not at my house – it is still dinner and supper. Of course if I am taken to Copeland’s or some such I call myself going out to “dinner” at night.
We said “lead pencil” and “tennis shoes” and now it is hard to break the habit and say “Nikes” or some other brand. And just say pencil.
We talked of rubboards in the No. 2 wash tubs where our mothers did the wash. No more, for decades we have all used washers and dryers. But do you remember the rubboard and tubs?
Rumble Seats and Beans
Some cars in my youth had “rumble seats” in the back. It was like a trunk of the car with the lid reversed and a seat put in.
Did you ever have to take a “purgative” which was the same as a laxative today?
Then there was the term “grass widow” and that was a divorcee, no grass grew on her husband’s grave.
Remember having to wash the milk “bottles” to put out for the dairyman to deliver our milk? No bottles today, just plastic bottles, and cardboard containers.
The restaurants call them “green beans” but my mama called them”snap beans” and I do, too.
Now don’t “get your bowels in a boil” because you still use these words. If you don’t understand the meaning of that sentence it just means don’t get indigestion because you are upset.
A Dodo Bird
Hope you liked Billy’s list as well as the ones I remember. I’ll be looking forward to hearing your family’s vocabulary back when we were young. And my grandson says that when it was something I did that’s as far back as time goes. Boy, am I old? Oh yes, I’m trying to watch what I say because I may talk “ugly” and not know I was being vulgar. Just an old “dodo” bird!!!
Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years until her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing select articles from Mrs. Agan’s Cameos column every Wednesday.