Open Thread

Open Thread Update: Favorite Family Sayings

In the previous column* we asked for favorite family sayings and readers delivered wit and wisdom from Moms, Dads, Grams and Gramps, Aunts, and family friends.

There are dozens, and every one – read them in the comments! – is a gem…from homespun wisdom…

When being overly stressed to find the ideal solution to a problem and worrying we might just make the wrong decision, my Dad, a farmer, always said, “A farmer never plowed a field by turning it over in his mind”.

-Maryellen R.

..to the zany…

Our funny and playful grandfather would begin many meals and parties with the toast ‘Here’s mud in your eye, fishface.’ We still say it when we are together and remember the fun with had with our gramp.

-Helen L.

..to the purely mysterious.

“On a wild horse, it will never be noticed.”
My Mother’s famous saying. Mostly used when my sisters and I would complain about something. We never figured out if we were on the wild horse or the subject of our complaint was on the horse…’

Anne J.

My father was 93yo when he died and would occasionally, in frustration, say “Gosh oh fish hooks!”

-Cheryl H.

The comments are full of family sayings from road trips and family hikes, at the dinner table, at the fruit stand and in everyday life. (Note to Kristy R. Remind me never to get on your mom’s bad side.)  

Some of them deliver folk wisdom in a unique way…

My best friend’s Mom would always say, “If wishes were fishes, we’d all have a fry.”

-Pat 

My grandmother was born in what was then called Indian Territory in 1905, two years before Oklahoma became a state, and had a way of putting things that stays with me. There was her take on an old saying, “Two heads is better’n one, even if one is a goat’s head…and I ain’t sayin’ which one’s the goat’s head!”

-Diana G. 

…others are a sweet insight into a loving family dynamic…

My dad, a hard working country bumpkin from Texas … after I’d done something wrong: “If I put your brain in a bird, he’d fly backwards! Come here gal and hug me!”

-Yvonne S. 

Every one is a gem, so take the time to read all the comments, and please feel free to add your own family saying. And a wise man once said…

I just want to say “Thank You” to all who have replied. It was great reading your stories!

Ernie C. 

Couldn’t agree more, can you?

*Previous Column 

I remember it like it was yesterday. As kids, my brother Vinnie and I watched a showdown on East Third Street that didn’t go well for a friend of ours and the crowd he ran with.  As we saw Yockie and his band limp away, my brother turned to me and thoughtfully said, “If you wanna lead the band, you gotta face the music.”

That phrase came in pretty handy during the Nixon Administration, but it wasn’t the only example of homespun wisdom I grew up with. Sometimes it made sense, and sometimes it…didn’t.

My parents were always keen on ways to save a few dollars and had many crazy ways to deflect the demands of their four kids for snacks. “Chocolate candy in stores all have worms in them” my mom would explain as she breezed past the candy stand, dragging me by the hand.

The Winner and Still Champion

It was my dad, though, who came up with the all-time winner. He outdid himself when he explained why mom never bought bottles of soda. It was because, he explained, ‘You’d just drink it.”

Try being a kid and wrapping your head around that one.

It took twenty years to get even but it was worth it. I was planning my wedding (I paid for everything) and told Dad we weren’t having an open bar, just beer and wine. He said “What??! No scotch?!”

I silently thanked God and said, “But Pop – you’d just drink it.”

But that’s my family’s homespun wisdom (or what passed for it to a kid). How about you? Are there any favorite catchphrases in your family?  Tell us your story in the comments!

Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send  Open Thread suggestions to editor@seniorplanet.org.

 

 

COMMENTS

31 responses to “Open Thread Update: Favorite Family Sayings

  1. Heard as a kid: those dishes won’t wash themselves; money doesn’t grow on trees; monkey see, monkey do.
    Grandma answered “I don’t want to” with “do it anyway; do it now; do it right” in beautiful Spanish. At 80 I have to repeat it to myself often ….in two languages. My brother-in-law’s grandmother from deep East Texas could stop us gossiping harshly with: “Did you evr stop to ask yoself how come him to be that way?” That we would do that all the time!

  2. My mother always told me after I had been out late and I didn’t want to get up she would say, “If you’re going to hoot with the owls, you need to soar with the eagles.
    Another one was ” I wouldn’t spit down that cheating SOB’s throat if he was dying of thirst.”

  3. We had a few! When I was very young, I mis-heard some words. When my father said his “lousy” foot hurt, I repeated it as “Daddy owsy foot hurt”. Later, we always said our “owsy” something hurts. My father used to say “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die”, which I heard as “speck” of dirt, and wondered how a speck of dirt could hurt me! When we went through tough times, my parents said it will get better “when our ship comes in”. Also, “you get too soon old and too late smart”.

  4. We did not have a lot of money growing up, but my dad always encouraged us to look our best, dress well, polish our shoes, and not be intimidated by others with more privileges. He would say, ‘if you look like a million bucks, you will feel like a million bucks.’ He built our confidence and helped us believe we could do anything.

  5. On a wild horse, it will never be noticed.
    My Mother’s famous saying. Mostly used when my sisters and I would complain about something. We never figured out if we were on the wild horse or the subject of our complaint was on the horse….our hair, our clothing, etc.

  6. My mom, a 1950’s homemaker who often issued this warning: “A hard head makes a soft behind!” Now ain’t that the truth. In almost eighty years of living, I’ve learned that truth over and over again. My dad, a hard working country bumpkin from Texas … after I’d done something wrong: “If I put your brain in a bird, he’d fly backwards! Come here gal and hug me!”

  7. When I was a kid, every time we went anywhere on the highway — you know, those newfangled roads where everybody is traveling in the same direction — my dad would chug along at the speed limit (at that time, 60 mph) and people would pass him like he was stopped. He always commented (every single time): “Everybody’s in a hurry to go nowhere!”

  8. My grandmaw used to say, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” It took me a while to figure out what that meant, and I think of it often when I’m trying to solve a problem. :-)

    1. I cried and throw a temper tantrum as a youngster which seemed like an entire day, but in actuality was probably only a few minutes. As a result my aunt said ” I’m going to give you something to cry about ” In my little self centered mind I thought she was going to give me something and then take it right away. Boy was I wrong.

  9. Ours was “onward and upward”. Began when hiking with my parents at Devils Lake State Park. Usually my dad would lead us (brother about 9 at the time, me 6 years old), but somehow my mother got into her head that this would the hike should not end just yet. So, despite tired little legs trudging up the rocks we kept going. When any of us asked which way to go or when we would turn back, she replied”p “onward and upward”. Good for a lifetime of decisions and challenges.

  10. My grandmother was born in what was then called Indian Territory in 1905, two years before Oklahoma became a state, and had a way of putting things that stays with me. There was her take on an old saying, “Two heads is better’n one, even if one is a goat’s head…and I ain’t sayin’ which one’s the goat’s head!”
    She assured me women were stronger than men, citing this saying: “If the man was to have the 1st baby & the woman the 2nd baby, wouldn’t never be no 3rd baby!” (Man wouldn’t do it again!)

  11. My dad would say FHB (family hold back) when it seemed like there
    might not be enough food with company. When I grew up during the 30’s friends and relatives would just pop in so you didn’t know how many you were going to feed.
    Marilyn Ellis

  12. As a child we ate a lot of fruit and sometimes we had complaints about a cantelope being not ripe enough or a peach not sweet enough. My mother would always say, “If I could climb inside and give it a taste before I bought it this would never happen”. Sums it up nicely.

  13. When someone is being difficult, argumentative, etc. my dad would say “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up.” I love that. In business, he would always say “You have to own the building.” “Don’t rent; if you are successful, the landlord will raise the rent.”

  14. In my “own” family (wife and kids), we have watched the various versions of “A Christmas Carol” so often we know much of the dialogue and songs by heart, and quote them when appropriate. After he was grown and married, my wife and I were visiting with our son, and, at the end of the evening, as we were getting ready to leave, he walked across the room and said, “This is the door, you may use it.” (from the Muppet version, Scrooge ushering out the fundraisers). I was VERY proud of him.

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