Alyce Faye Bragg: Recalling the old-time sayings of my youth

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I received a letter a few days ago from an anonymous reader.

“Add this to your collection of old sayings,” it read. ‘When the children would act up or show off, they were said to be ‘cuttin’ a shine.’”

Oh yes, I heard that many times when we were kids. Sometimes we would cut a shine also when we got a “whuppin” after a misbehavior. I remember Daddy saying after that happened, “Dance a little jig for a cinnamon bean.” I don’t know how that got started. Mom would also caution us, “Don’t jump around like that or you will jar off a mantle.”

Today’s kids most likely wouldn’t know what a mantle was, unless they were acquainted with camping equipment and used an older-type lantern. In the years before we had our house wired for electricity, we used natural gas for everything. We had gas pipes that ran along the ceiling, and we used a fragile, sheath-like covering over the pipe, which gave off a brilliant illumination when it was heated by the gas flame.

Mom had an old saying when we deserved punishment for some misbehavior that went like this, “I’ll get a switch and cut the hide off of you!” We did get switched lots of times, but we never lost any skin.

She also said, “I’ll whip you ‘til your hide won’t hold corn shucks!” It sounds as if we were really abused, but we weren’t. Our punishments were reasonable, and it didn’t damage any of our psyches. As a matter of fact, we grew up to be decent, self-respecting citizens.

Our parents had many old-timey sayings that are probably not used much now. When Daddy would assign us to a task, he would admonish us, “Just do it right the first time, and you won’t have to do it over!” If we did have to do it over, Mom would say, “Go lick your calf over again!” Of course, that pertained to a mama cow licking her newborn calf to stimulate it.

Another saying that Mom frequently used, especially in her older days, was this, “It’s a fur piece to walk.” She would say this when someone would invite her to visit, meaning that someone would have to transport her. Daddy often said, “You are as slow as molasses in January!” And, “He’s not worth the salt that goes in his bread!” That goes along with the old saying, “He wouldn’t work in a pie factory!”

When we finally got old enough to have a boyfriend, there were certain stages to follow. We didn’t “get into a relationship” as couples do now. “Sparking” was the first step, which consisted of eye signals that passed between the two to show an interest. It was also used when the relationship progressed to the point where the boy began calling on the girl. Then the talk would get around, “That Jones boy is sparkin’ Ellie Fay.”

Daddy told me I couldn’t have a boyfriend until I was 15 years old, and also I was not to kiss a boy until we were married. I asked him (reasonably, I thought) “Then how will you know you would want to marry a boy unless you kissed him first?”

Courtship in the hills when I was of age was remarkably different than it is now. For one thing, the young boys did not have automobiles such as the youth do now, so our courting was done on foot.

How well I remember when a gang of us girls would get together and walk to a church revival several miles away. I’m afraid it was not for our spiritual benefit, but in the hopes of enticing some young man to walk us home. The boys usually sat in the back rows of the meetinghouse, and as we girls would file past them, they would extend an arm and ask if “they could walk us safe home.”

I never thought about it at the time, but the boys would have a long walk back home after they delivered us to our door. Of course, we had made the long walk to the church house in the first place.

We weren’t allowed to loiter at the door with our suitor either, or else we could expect a father to appear and tell us it was time to go to bed. It was worth it though, as it was the only way we could be with the opposite sex. No wonder we didn’t have any trouble with our weight! Walking all that distance at least once a week was bound to keep you trim!

The boy that attracted my eye and captured my heart was the object of all my walking. He was my first real boyfriend, and I fell hard. I guess most every girl goes through this part of growing up, and learning to be an adult.

There are stages of extreme happiness and then low places of sadness and disappointment. It is all a part of the growing-up process. In any event, the boy I loved has been dead for over 50 years. I don’t think a person ever forgets their first love.

I am thankful that God was watching out for me, and sent me the one that I needed. We always have to make choices, and sometimes our choices are not good for us. It is so good to have a Savior that we can depend upon to lead us, if we will only follow Him.

I found a poem that was sent to me some time ago, and I want to share it.

Memories Are Treasures of the Heart

By Vivian Hill

All the gold on earth,

Could not begin to equal

All the treasures of the Kings

What our memories are worth.

Remembering together times,

Can warm a lonely day

And thoughts of summer afternoons

Take winter’s chill away.

Lovely memories linger on

Of moments left behind,

And rain will seldom come to those,

With rainbows on their minds.

And when life seems to get us down

The thing that sees us through,

Is thinking of the ones we love

And those who love us too.

I really meant to write about the old country sayings that we heard all through our youth, but I got sidetracked and walked all over Stoney Lonesome in the memories of my mind.

What I really loved about the letter I received recalling old sayings was the last note which said, “Take care; you are loved.”

Funerals for Thursday, July 9, 2020

Ankrom, Vada - 1 p.m., Bartlett-Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Dillard, Helen - 11 a.m., Gatens-Harding Funeral Home, Poca.

Greenlee, Margaret - 10 a.m., Bellemead United Methodist Church.

Harper, Carl - 10 a.m., Matics Funeral Home, Clendenin.

Humphrey, Connie - Noon, Restlawn Memory Gardens, Victor.  

Justice, Thelma - 1 p.m., Evans Funeral Home, Chapmanville.

Lanham, Kathy - 1 p.m., Long & Fisher Funeral Home, Sissonville.

McDerment, Randall - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Russell, Michael - 4 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

White, Thomas - 11 a.m., St. Anthony Catholic Church, Charleston.