Thursday, September 23, 2010

TO-MAH-TOE OR TO-MAY-TOE: Does it matter?

It just wasn't a night to cook. Well, it wasn't a night for Julie to clean the kitchen after I cooked. I have prepared some pretty good dinners since I've been home from the lake. When I am not home to cook I know Julie, like a lot of single people, does not eat well. The problem with my cooking is I use every thing in the kitchen, which Julie has to clean.

Barberton, Ohio is known as the "Chicken Capitol of the World", or so we like to think. We certainly have more than our share of chicken dinner eating places. We usually go to Hopocan Gardens, an establishment dating back to the '30s. It is "hunky" heaven.

After dinner I treated Julie to a treat at the Magic Freeze, a custard stand deluxe dating back to 1953. I usually get a small Orange Sherbert. Eating it in what was my first neighborhood in Barberton, I recalled my kids making fun of the way their Dad said certain words. Sherbert was one such word. I guess the "t" is silent and the word is correctly pronounced "sher-bear", at least that is what I recall the kids said.

My hill billy speech did not stop at tomato. My kids also laughed when I said "chimney" which is obviously pronounced "chim-lee". Fish? Yep, it is not "Fish to rhyme with Dish" but feesh.

My mother, bless her memory, fished all her life and she kept every fish she caught for future fish frys. The extended family loved to come to Mom's for her fish. She had the "touch" when it came to frying fish. The thing was, you had no idea of what kind of fish you were eating, perch, blue gill, carp or catfish, who knew?

During the Great Depression of the '30s we lived on fish. Mom's people sold fish for a living. They ran several trot lines on which they caught huge fish that are no longer in the Ohio River. I remember seeing massive white buffalo or catfish butchered while hanging from a single tree, much as one would butcher a hog.

It was before I was born but a family story involves Mom running Poppa Elliott's, her step-father's, trot line. Mom needed a fish to feed her family. There was no fish on her trot line. She went to one of Poppa Elliott's lines from which she took a big, white buffalo fish, like the one shown at the right. In those days the Ohio River was clean and the fish good to eat.

As she and my brother Henry, who was about 9 years old, walked up the river bank with the fish, they ran right into Poppa Elliott. He said "where did you get that fish, Sis, off my lines'? Without breaking her stride Mom replied "Yes, I did" and laughed. He laughed too, not at all believing the truth she had spoken. He was a harmless man but sure could fiercely cuss up a blue streak. My brother Henry, recalling this story at family outings always said that was his "first lesson in how to tell a lie".

Another of the words my kids teased me about was dynamite. As a youth in West Virginia, dynamite was quite familiar. It is correctly pronounced "dan-o-mite". Once when my kids were trying to "un-red-neck" their father, my Mother was visiting. With the kids listening, I said to Mom, "I remember Dad catching wash tubs full of fish at the mouth of a creek. How did he do that?" Mom replied, "why son, he just lighted a stick of DAN-O-MITE floating on a board, rowed the jon boat away, and the explosion killed a lot fish". The kids loved and respected their grandmother and just shook their heads.

Fond memories.

I can't complain about the kids. I created them and am proud of each of them, even if "they" do speak differently. All college grads going on for their their grad degrees, one son is currently pursuing his second Master's Degree, they are professionals married to professionals.

Kimberly, my youngest seen here with her son Riley, was an English major, taking pronunciation to a new level. She and her husband, Jack, who is pursuing a Master's Degree from Duke, only speak correctly in their family and the two kids speak just like their parents--as did I.

Although the kids attend a wonderful, private school, their teachers are amazed at just how properly they speak.

Great Memories. Making more daily is my aim in life. Let the good times roll!

Remember to vote.

God Bless you and your's.


Todd Pierce said...

You left out some of my favorites: igull (eagle) furgit (forget) ungun (onion) rassle (wrestle) and arnry (ornery). But I was always impressed that you knew the word innuendo: "Thet thar arnry igull done flew right in-yur-wendow! Guess he wuz after yur ungun. Twern't no trubble tho, he done flew away up the chimlee." Yet, we were never allowed to say "uh" or "um". Go figger. :-)

Glad to see you blogging again.

For the record, I say SHUR-bet.


Mark Pierce said...

I agree with Todd. Love the fact that you're back on the blog. Been missing you here.

Also for what it's worth - you always made it possible for us to learn whatever was new, different or exciting - even if we pronounced it in a new, different or exciting way!

Love you! Mark