Lost Words From our Childhood

children-runningBy – Richard Lederer

Words gone as fast as the buggy whip! Sad really! The other day a not so elderly (65) lady said something to her son about driving a Jalopy and he looked at her quizzically and said what the heck is a Jalopy? OMG (new phrase!) he never heard of the word jalopy!! She knew she was old but not that old…

Well, I hope you are Hunky Dory after you read this and chuckle..

About a month ago, I illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology.  These phrases included “Don’t touch that dial,” “Carbon copy,” “You sound like a broken record” and “Hung out to dry.” Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie.  We’d put on our best bib and tucker to straighten up and fly right.

Heavens to Betsy!  Gee whillikers!  Jumping Jehoshaphat!  Holy moley!

We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill.  Not for all the tea in China!

Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when’s the last time anything was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A.; of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers.

Oh, my aching back. Kilroy was here, but he isn’t anymore.

We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say, well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! or This is a fine kettle of fish! We discover that the words we grew up with,- the words that seemed omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, go the words of our youth, the words we’ve left behind.  We blink, and they’re gone.  Where have all those phrases gone?

Long gone:  Pshaw, The milkman did it. Hey! It’s your nickel.  Don’t forget to pull the chain.  Knee high to a grasshopper.  Well, Fiddlesticks!  Going like sixty.  I’ll see you in the funny papers. Don’t take any wooden nickels.  Heavens to Murgatroyd!  It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills.

This can be disturbing stuff !  We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changeful times.  For a child each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We at the other end of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It’s one of the greatest advantages of aging.

See ya later, alligator, after a while crocodile!

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3 years ago

For Pete’s sake! Heavens to Betsy!! Watchamacallit. Ants in your pants.

Patricia Louise
4 years ago

Mergatroyd! or Heavens To Mergatroyd!

Patricia Louise
4 years ago

Hot diggity dog diggity! (thinking of this one, I listened to the Perry Como song of the same name, 1956 I think)

4 years ago

Tell it to the Navy, ’cause the Marines ain’t listening.

Grandpa Dunk
5 years ago

A man comes home from work and his wife tell’s him “Honey, the rabbit died” . What is he telling him?

6 years ago

I started a list years ago. I did not know it would become an obsession. I probably have 40 pages of words and phrases.

Margaret Paddock
6 years ago

Well, this was just the Cat’s Meow :)

6 years ago

Mr. Richard Lederer, thank you for this quirky and wonderful article. And oh yes I remember so many of these phrases because I grew up with them. They are so much a part of who I am and who I came from I was not aware I used them all the time. I have sometimes wondered why I got strange looks from the younger folks in conversation, now I know….. What a delight to read……

6 years ago

Oh, don’t be such a “cornball”. Be happy and “gay”?

6 years ago

In all my youth I don’t ever remember using the word “delete”.

6 years ago

You use to get in trouble for swiping stuff at th store, now a days it’s In couraged. But you do it with a card.

Lee Ann Phillips
6 years ago

Know what I mean Jelly Bean? Sure do Tennis Shoe

Suzanne Gerad
6 years ago

Unfortunately Heavens to Betsy and Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat and Holey Moley have been replaced by the “F: word in all of its glory with its many offshoots “f” you, Mother “F-ing, “f”-off and ad infinitim “F” this and “F: that. Not only foul mouthed but totally lacking in imagination. A loss on many levels!

6 years ago

And I thought I was the only one that thought this progression from old adages was more than just a Hill of Beans!

6 years ago
Reply to  Gary

I thought Hill of Beans was the democrat frontrunner

Alfred Somerville
6 years ago
Reply to  whistlepigger

Good one, “whistlepigger”!! From where I stand, I can most ungrammatically state that this “frontrunner” ain’t worth a hill of beans in any case!

Texas Crude
6 years ago

If any of you cats ain’t hep to the jive, that’s two carburetors and an overdrive.

6 years ago

Can still hear my mother’s “bed time” rhyme!

“To bed, to bed!”, said Sleepy Head!
“Wait a while!”, said Slow!
(with a growl in your voice!)
“Hang onto the pot!”, said Greedy Gut!
“We’ll eat before we go!”

…or my dad’s song!

Show me the way to go home
I’m tired and I wanna go to bed
Had a little drink about an hour ago
And it went right to my head

Where ever I may roam
Over sea or land or foam
You can always hear me singing this song
Show me the way to go home…(and repeat!)

Anybody else remember these?

Alfred Somerville
6 years ago
Reply to  FirstBubba

Don’t know if you saw “Jaws”-assume most people of a certain age did, but your dad’s song had a starring role in that flick. I have fond memories of “Captain Quint”(Robert Shaw), “Chief Brody”(Roy Scheider), and “Hooper”(Richard Dreyfuss), “harmonizing” with that song while getting gloriously loaded on board the “Orca” the night before their epic battle with the shark.

Flag girl
6 years ago

Amen to that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Roxanne Davis
6 years ago

Neat !

6 years ago

How about, “I’ll Moider Da Bum!”

Alfred Somerville
6 years ago
Reply to  Raymond

How about Moe, of the Three Stooges-“Remind me ta moider you later, puddin’head!” every time Larry, or especially Curly, did something amazingly stupid? I still feel the urge to mutter those words when somebody does something really stupid.

6 years ago

My mother always told me to mind my p’s and q’s

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