Cute sayings and pithy advice are part of any family’s history. Such verbal gems usually cannot be chased back to their origins but may have existed for generations longer than suspected. All too often such family history is lost to posterity. I leave here a few examples from the Family Hutton and from the Family Plunket; however, I’m sure many examples have already disappeared into the fog of history. I encourage the reader to take notice of the unusual and clever sayings they grew up with and document them for future generations.
Adages can at times be easy to identify from where they came, even if unable to identify when they began. One such example is I recall my Dad using when braking his car a bit too quickly. He would call out while tromping down on the brake petal, “Whoa, whoa I say, whoa.” No doubt my Dad had heard his father shouting this command. I suspect this action command dates to when his father or grandfather drove a buckboard or wagon pulled by a a different type of horsepower than powered Dad’s car. Under those earlier circumstances the operator was using specific and direct language while pulling back on the reins and hollering a command at his horse.
Portrait of Howard Hutton
Other sayings derive from life’s experiences. Dad provided two bits of advice to me when using public restrooms. The first bit of wisdom he proffered was that the man entering the restroom ALWAYS has the right of way over the man exiting. Such advice of course demonstrates good manners, realizing that the man entering no doubt is in the greater hurry than the man exiting.
The second piece of advice Dad offered was to never get in line at the urinal behind an old man. The reasoning behind this gem, no doubt, is age-related prostatism that most old men develop. This condition prolongs their time at the urinal. The short line behind the old man suckers the unwary and is like the short line at motor vehicles. Both lines move glacially.
Dad always referred to our collective family as “The Hungry Huttons”,” This one needs no explanation with four growing children seated around the dinner table.
My aunt Grace Schwarz, Nonnie, would often comment that our family “might have lacked the millions but we had the airs.” (unfortunately we did not have the heirs)
My great grandfather, Thaddeus Septimus Hutton, advised to always shake out your boots in the morning before putting them on. I imagine he acquired this sage advice the hard way while being a cowboy in Texas. To those living in Texas, we understand scorpions love to infest warm places such as recently removed boots. Ouch!
Portrait of Great Grandfather Thaddeus Septimus Hutton
My sister, Joan, recalls Dad referring to her as “Spook.” The name apparently came from a WWII era comic strip where only the eyes and nose protruded over the fence or table top. Joan apparently in her early years showed this pose when peering over the table at Dad, thus prompting her nickname.
Paul W. Plunket III (Trudy’s brother) described his grandfather, Hal C. Horton, on finishing a particularly satisfying meal would exclaim, he was “superflopity.” Paul thinks this saying might have been a southern corruption of the adverb “superfluously” which means extravagant.
Portrait of Hal C. Horton
When Paul W. Plunket Jr. (Trudy and Paul’s father) did not want to do something, he would say: “Well, can’t dance, too wet to plow.”
Below portrait of Paul and Sarah Plunket
When Sarah Plunket (Trudy and Paul’s mother) in her role as a professional photographer would tell the subject things that were not exactly true to achieve a particular expression. She called these sayings, “misty white lies.”
Paul W. Plunket III (Trudy’s brother) borrowed some good advice from a mentor that he readily shares. “You would worry less what others think about you, if you realized how seldom they did.”
Trudy grew up with the encouragement to tackle a particular challenging task with the proviso, ” No hill for a stepper.” When asked to dress up, the encouragement would be to “put on your Sunday go-to-meetin’ clothes.”
When disparaging a wannabe cowboy, the saying goes, “he’s all hat and no cattle.” When questioning someone’s honesty, the saying goes, “as crooked as a dog’s hind leg”. Or if expressing uncertainty on a specific claim, the saying goes, “Don’t bet the farm on it.” When commenting on a person’s unwillingness to spend money, the saying goes “he’s as tight as bark on a tree.” All of these sayings, Trudy and I heard while growing up. While these sayings go much further than our immediate families, these are the adages we remember well.
My new book titled, Hitler’s Maladies and Their Impact on World War II will appear by April of this year. This is a behavioral neurologists take on the impact of Adolf Hitler’s poor health on WWII. I hope you will look for it.
Also if you haven’t read by last book, Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales, I hope you will get a copy. In the book I share favorite patient stories that show insights into what is most meaningful when faced with life threatening illnesses. The book has been well received and has a surprising amount of humor. You can contact me for a copy and send $15 and I’ll mail it to you. Also available via Amazon or your local bookstore at full price. My address is 751 Bryant Road, Fredericksburg, Tx 78624
Tom Hutton, January 25, 2023