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The Wrong Words

by Minden Press-Herald

I listened as the politician said that his opponent had raised Social Security four times. I was amazed, because I did not know how one man could raise Social Security. My son pointed out that it was printed on the screen and it said he “raided” Social Security four times. Quite a difference “to raid” and not “to raise.” Lately my hearing is getting worse, but always I have heard things differently than it was said. When I was five the popular song was “In The Shade of an Old Apple Tree” and I thought I understood the singer say “In the shade of the old apple tree, the love in your RIGHT eye I can see.” My family said it did not say right eye just eye. I made them replay the record over and over again and still I maintained that it said right eye. Wrong, wrong!!!

Dog Fight Food

My children must have inherited that flaw among others. My three year old son saw the dog food cans that I brought home. It said “Delight Dog Food” and he said it said “Dog Fight Dog food” and there was no way to convince a three year old that he had read it wrong. He was beginning to teach himself to read.

And then when his grandfather had a tumor in his prostate when John was about 5 we were so concerned and spent much time in prayer as a family, praying that it would not be malignant. It wasn’t. About that time the church sang “All hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall.” Well, it seems that we always called Papaw’s trouble “Prostrate trouble” instead of Prostate trouble” which of course, leaves the “r” out after the “t.” John could not understand why we sang like it was wonderful for letting the angels’ “prostrate” fall, and we worried ourselves to death over his grandfather’s trouble. Finally, we realized what troubled him and tried to pronounce the word properly.


He mentioned that some children had thought when we sang “Gladly, the cross I’ll bear” that we said “Gladly, the cross-eyed bear.” And one little fellow thought we said “Bringing in the sheets” and not “Bringing in the sheaves.” He thought it was about doing the laundry. At Christmas time we sing “Around yon virgin, mother and children,” and the children thought we said “Around John Virgin, mother and child.”

In my mother’s family back long ago they cooked their dinner before going to church. My mother was the church pianist. She accompanied the soloist who sang “Sweet Peace, the gift of God’s love.” Mother’s brother Jasper said “Ma, all I could think about while she sang about peas was the pot of peas you cooked for dinner. I am so hungry.” Peas not peace, he thought she said. So much poor pronunciation.


When my middle grandson was about 4 they came to my house about five one afternoon. I announced that I was on my way to Heflin to pick peas and did they want to go. They, being my daughter and her two younger boys, wanted to go. When I asked David if he wanted to go to Heflin with me he looked sort of puzzled and said “Baby Paul, too?” and I said “yes.” And then he said “In the car?” and again I answered “yes.” All the way to Heflin he was so very quiet and did not meddle with the dash as he usually did. When we pulled up, the dirt billowed up around the car, and the weeds were so high. He peered out of the window and said “So this is what heaven is like.” He had not heard “Heflin” but he heard “Heaven.”

My husband had only a brother and I was an only child. When my brother-in-law died his wife decided to have him cremated instead of a traditional funeral service and burial. We were all so shocked. My 9 year old grandchild, David, wanted to know why Aunt Lucy had Uncle Bud “creamed.”
Years ago we had a young lady take part in Training Union at our church. She talked about the immorality of Jesus instead of the immortality the part called for.

Cutting Fangs

A friend mentioned a sick child whose mother was a friend of ours. She said the child had to be carried to the hospital because it was so “emancipated.” I puzzled over what she meant until she said they had to give the child some IVs and it got better. She meant “emaciated.”

My middle grandson mixed his words many times. He said his mother did not like his haircut because the barber had cut him “fangs.” I asked if he meant “bangs” and he said he guessed he had used the wrong word. He said that the talent contest he was in was won by a girl who did “extortions” and my son said “Do you mean ‘contortions?” He said he thought that was what he meant.

I have become famous or notorious for saying something I thought was right and found I had used a sexually vulgar phrase. So it is best if I just keep my mouth shut.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pitchers of silver.”

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.

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