Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Appalachian Word of the Week -- TRADIN'

Is your larder bare? Well, you may need to do what I have to do today. Go TRADIN'.

If you grew up in Harlan County, like I did, you probably shopped at the A&P most Saturdays.

A favorite childhood memory, though, is getting to go to Pennington Gap, Virginia, with my granny and my step-pappaw to Cas Walker's. It was an all-day trip across the mountains and through those winding roads. What an adventure to ride in the back seat of their red Oldsmobile before seatbelts were invented. I slid across those vinyl seats every time we rounded one of the many curves. It was like the rides at the Tennessee State Fair every TRADIN' day.

TRADIN' at a small neighborhood general store.
If we only needed a few items to tide us over, we'd walk up the road to Joe and Anna Martha's little roadside grocery store. It ended up being my job to do the trip to do a quick bit of TRADIN'. I didn't mind when the weather was good. Besides, I usually got a treat for my effort. My favorite treat was a Brown Cow. Remember those?

Joe and Anna Martha were like friends to our family. I roamed the aisles of the store to see all the goodies available and chose the ones on Mom's list. They didn't have any buggies. I had to carry each item to the massive counter in the front and stack them together in one spot -- in case another shopper needed space for their TRADIN', too.

After I collected everything on the list, which might include a Squirt pop for Mom from the old Coca Cola cooler at the front, Anna Martha added up the tab and recorded it in her little book. Daddy paid her next time he got his paycheck.

Miner's Market in Lynch, Kentucky
Today, most of those general stores are gone. Actually, our A&P and Cas Walker's are gone, too. But, there's always an alternative in the mountains. These days, if you need to do a little TRADIN' in a hurry, you can pick up a few things at your local gas station. You can even get dinner or supper there, too.

When I did research for my novel (coming out in November), I spent some time in Lynch, Kentucky. There weren't many options for TRADIN' there, but I did discover Miner's Market gas, TRADIN', and cafe. Home-cooked food served. They only had a couple of tables inside, but the food was great.

I loved TRADIN' day. It meant I had lots of options for food and Mom cooked better meals. I never enjoyed regular breakfast foods, like cereal. Instead, I got up before school and fixed a bowl of Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup or a fried baloney sandwich. I miss those days.

In elementary school, I took my lunch in a tin lunchbox with a thermos. My thermos usually had chicken noodle soup. I also packed a peanut butter and banana sandwich. It wouldn't ruin on those hot days in my classroom. We didn't have any air conditioning at our school. I did love the fragrance of a warmed peanut butter and banana sandwich on Bunny bread. Ah ... takes me back.

Did you go TRADIN' when you were a kid? Where did you shop? Do you have fond memories of those trips to the A&P or Cas Walker's?

I'd love to hear your stories about going TRADIN'.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Appalachian Word of the Week -- CHIMLEE

Spring is showing itself in short bursts. Of course, we mustn't forget about our periods of winter that stick with us a bit longer. Here in Atlanta, we just had Dogwood Winter. I expect it will hit my Kentucky hometown in about two weeks.

Until all our winters are complete, we'll still need a bit of warmth in the house, especially at night.

One of the best ways to warm up our houses on a chilly day or night is to light a fire in the fireplace. I love being outside and seeing the smoke rise from the CHIMLEEs and breathe in the woodsmoke.

Yep, where I grew up, most of the folks referred to a chimney as a CHIMLEE.

At Christmas, Santa came down the CHIMLEE to deliver toys.

Santa couldn't fit in our CHIMLEE
I panicked the year I realized Santa wouldn't be able to come down our CHIMLEE because it was connected to our stove. He would end up in the fire or stuck in the stovepipe. I bawled. Mom tried to explain that Santa knew not to come down our CHIMLEE, but to enter through the door. What a relief to know we wouldn't be responsible for the demise of Santa--and all those gifts he would be bringing to put under my tree.

Of course, I made sure the front door was unlocked on Christmas Eve before I jumped into bed.

After a winter of coal fires, the CHIMLEE was full of coal dust and ash. When spring finally gave way to summer temperatures, Mom's job was to clean out the stove pipe and the CHIMLEE. We didn't have a CHIMLEE sweep to do it for us. It was Mom's job.

I thought it was hilarious to watch her. There was a lot of stuff in that CHIMLEE. It would pour out and cover her up with black dust, poofing all around her and making her look like a coal miner straight from a day at the mines. What a mess!

Good thing she had a vacuum cleaner to suck most of the gunk out of the CHIMLEE and off the floor, stove, window ledges, and anything nearby. It still took elbow grease to get that black smudge off of everything.

Sure glad I don't have to do that.

I love a stone CHIMLEE
CHIMLEEs aren't all the same. Ours was brick. I've seen others that were stone, covered in stucco, or even aluminum siding. Our house had only one CHIMLEE. Some houses have more. Those huge manor homes they show on British TV have too many CHIMLEEs to count. The thing is--the number of CHIMLEEs in your house determines how warm the other rooms in the house will be.

My bedroom was the furthest room from the CHIMLEE. That's why I had a heap of blankets and quilts on my bed. It was almost like sleeping outside on the porch. At least it was dry and the wind didn't howl through the walls.

Did your family call it a CHIMLEE? Do you? Do you remember having to clean out the CHIMLEE each spring?

I'd love to hear your stories.

Karen Lynn Nolan (Bell)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Appalachian Word of the Week -- TAKE TO MY/YOUR/THE BED

Several of my friends are feeling the negative effects of spring. Sneezing, drainage, sore throats, red eyes, upset tummies, and headaches. One friend made a comment the other day that brought back memories of my childhood in the mountains.

She said, "I feel so awful I'm gonna TAKE TO MY BED."

Did you ever get up in the morning and decide you'd rather stay home from school and watch TV, play outside, or read a book? That's when you decided to put on the "I'm sicker'n a dog and can't go to school today" act.

I never tried that tactic -- except maybe a time or two when I wasn't ready for a big project or a test and needed extra time.

Take to your bed or couch
My brother and sister tried to pull a fast one on Mom often. But Mom was too smart for them. She pointed her finger in the direction of their rooms and said, "If you're that sick, then TAKE TO YOUR BED." They tried to argue they would feel better on the couch, watching TV, but she wouldn't have it.

"If you're too sick for school, you're too sick for TV. TAKE TO YOUR BED."

Now that I'm older, a lot older, I have days when I wish I could TAKE TO MY BED and forget about all the things I need to do. I know I have to really be sick to give in and TAKE TO MY BED, though.

Take to your bed when you're pooped
Of course, being sick is not the only reason to TAKE TO YOUR BED. Sometimes we get so pooped from chores and tasks on our To Do List, that we need to TAKE TO THE BED to get a bit of rest.

There are other reasons, too. Not MY reasons. But maybe one of yours. On those days, you might not make it far enough to TAKE TO YOUR BED. You may TAKE TO THE SOFA. Or TAKE TO THE FLOOR.

Was TAKE TO YOUR BED used in your family? Do you still TAKE TO THE BED at certain times?

Tell me about it. I'd love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Appalachian Word of the Week -- WORSH

Today is WORSH day at my house.

Thankfully, it's not as difficult as it used to be during my childhood.

Do you remember WORSH Day?

Remember that old wringer WORSHER that sat on the back porch? It was a handy convenience, according to my mother. She remembered the day when they had to use a scrub board to clean the clothes at the river. I wasn't sure if I believed her hard-luck story back then. Now, I realize she described common practice in her day in Appalachia. Our WORSHER had wringers -- two round stick-like things -- on the back, above the WORSHER. You stuck the soppy wet clothes between the rollers, clamped them down, and it fed them through, squeezing most of the water out and back into the tub. It came out a bit flat and stiff.

Of course, my cousin discovered the hard way that those wringers would squeeze an arm and shoulder flat, too. Luckily, my aunt Joyce managed to stop the wringers before they pulled his entire body through. He ended up in a cast for quite a while after his smart little trick. I doubt he got anywhere near a WORSHIN' machine again.

After the WORSH had all been run through the wringers (Hmmm. Wonder if that's where they got that term), and mom stacked it in a laundry basket, she went out in the backyard to hang the WORSH on the line.

Lift the pole to raise the WORSH
Our line sagged across the yard from one pole to another. In the middle of the line, we had a pole with a cut-out on top, that could be adjusted to lower the line or raise it. Since Mom was only five feet tall, she had to lower the line enough to reach and pin the WORSH to the line. Of course, the pole kept it high in the air when not in use. Otherwise, it could decapitate an unobservant runner. In the least, it would smart right good.

Did you have one of those little bags that hung on your clothesline with the clothespins inside?

When I was old enough to help hang the WORSH, my arms ached by the time I had it all pinned up. To keep the WORSH from dragging on the ground, we'd take that pole with the notch in it, lift up the line, and stab the pole into the ground. Certainly didn't want that clean WORSH to end up draggin' the ground--or being low enough for the dog to grab hold of it and run.

After the sunshine spent the day drying the WORSH as the breeze flapped the WORSH around on the line, it was time to unpin it and put it back in the basket. Oh, how heavenly to draw that sun-dried WORSH to your face and breathe it in. Nothing like it. Not even Snuggle dryer sheets.

WORSH day was not complete yet, though. Some laundry could be folded and put away, but a lot of it had to be ARNED. We didn't have steam ARNS in those days, so we had a different method for arnin' the wrinkles out of our WORSH.

Mom had a sprinkler head made of metal. It looked a lot like the end of a watering can, except it had cork around the neck of it and could be inserted into a bottle. We used a Coke bottle. That means it could have been Coke, RC Cola, Sprite, Squirt, or Nehi. We called everything Coke.

We filled the Coke bottle with water and stuck the sprinkler head into the top. Then we sprinkled the dried clothes, one piece at a time, folded and rolled them into a tight roll, and stuck them into a plastic bag with a zipper.

The next day, we ARNED the WORSH and hung it up in a closet or chifferobe.

Now, every WORSH day didn't fall on a warm, sunny day. For rainy, cold, or snowy days, we had a line set up in the house. It stretched from the front room to the kitchen. To keep it from sagging, a hook on the doorframe to each room held it high. Maneuvering through the house was a tad tricky on those days. We had to be careful carrying coal to the stove, or removing ashes from the firebox. We also had to keep the WORSH away from the stove. Mom constantly reminded us, "Don't mess up that WORSH or you'll be WORSHIN' it again yourself." Nobody wanted to re-worsh anything.

Do you remember WORSH day when you were little? Or littler? Are you as thankful for modern washers and dryers as I am? Guess I shouldn't complain anymore about WORSH day, should I?

Tell me your stories. I'd love to hear them. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Appalachian Word of the Week -- RINCH

Did your mama ever remind you to RINCH a piece of fruit before you ate it?

Do you know what it means? Or why she said it?

Since we grew a lot of our vegetables and fruits on the hill behind our house when I lived in Harlan County, I heard that word of warning often. I always wondered if my mom thought I was a bit deft and couldn't remember to RINCH the dirt off before I ate something fresh from the garden or whether she thought I was downright stupid and had to be reminded each time. Like when she reminded me to lock my door every, single, time we got in or out of the car.

In the mountains, we were instructed to RINCH everything.

Yes, I mean RINSE.

Pick a tomato without RINCHIN'
I never told my mom how many times I picked a ripe tomato and ate it on the spot without RINCHING it first. I swiped it on my shirt and hoped that would be good enough.

If she had known, she'd probably tell me that's exactly why I've had health problems. Wonder if she was right.

Carrots and onions were a different story, though. They had chunks of dirt hanging onto them. Thankfully, we had a spicket (spigot) outside for a quick RINCH.

RINCH your dish first
When I went to the kitchen to get a drink of water, Mom always reminded me to RINCH the glass first. I don't know if she thought dust had settled in it on the shelf or something else. Maybe it was because coal dust constantly filled the air and settled on everything. Or it could be the fear of a six-legged or eight-legged critter that had danced through the dishes and left germs behind from all those little feet.

Either way, I RINCH a dish even today before I use it for food or drink. Just in case.

RINCH the summer off your face
When we came inside after a hot summer day of playing and adventures, Mom always told us to RINCH the summer off our faces before dinner. Of course, she didn't tell us to RINCH our hands. That operation had to include some soap in the process.

It always felt good to RINCH off after a hot day. Get rid of the grime and salty taste of the sweat. Made you feel all clean and ready to start again.

Baptizing RINCHES you clean

Almost like getting baptized in a cool river. You go in all dirty from your life and come out RINCHED clean to start a new life with Jesus. Halleluah!

What things did you always have to RINCH when you were a kid? What things do you RINCH now?

I'd love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Appalachian Word of the Week -- FLAHRS or FLARES

Spring is popping up in the mountains. Of course, in Atlanta, where I live now, spring comes about two weeks earlier than in my Kentucky mountains.

What joy it brings each year as the FLAHRS start popping out of the dirt and above the snow to add color, beauty, and hope after a frigid winter.

You know what FLAHRS are, right? Okay, some folks pronounce it FLARES and a few more citified people call them FLOWERS.

Granny used to come out onto the porch after a cold winter, sit in her rocking chair, breathe in a deep breath, and say, "Just look at them purdy FLAHRS popping up all over the place. Spring's sprung."

Robins hopped between sprouting grass clumps as they searched for juicy earthworms. Buds of green appeared on the bare limbs of the trees. Critters chased each other in their spring mating dances, promising a new batch of varmints to chase out of the garden.

But the FLAHRS were what I waited for each spring. The bright yellow of the daffodils and forsythia echoed the sunshine with their warmth.

Wild violets
My favorite spring FLAHRS have always been the wild violets. I'm not sure if it is the purple of the petals or the game of rooster we used to play with them that made them special. Did you play rooster? That's when you and a friend take a violet and interlock their heads; then you yank your violets by the stem. The one whose violet still has its head wins.

Other favorite spring FLAHRS included iris, peonies, and the FLAHRin' trees.

What are your favorite springtime FLAHRS?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Appalachian Word of the Week -- APPALACHIA

This week's word is not a word few people outside of Appalachia recognize. It's about a word few non-Appalachians know how to pronounce correctly.

This week, I was honored to record an interview for Speak UP! radio, a division of Christian Devotions Ministry. The interviewer, a Yankee, mispronounced APPALACHIA. I gave him a trick to pronouncing it correctly. Hopefully, he will never forget.

Now, most of us from the mountains know how it's pronounced. Just in case, I'll give you the trick.

APPALACHIA is pronounced as if you were telling someone, "Say it right or I'll throw an APPLE AT CHA.

Chun Li, street fighter
Now, isn't that easy? Of course, if you're saying APPALACHIAN, all you have to think is APPLE AT CHUN. I don't know who CHUN is, but if it's Chun Li in this photo, it might take more than one apple to stop her. The walls look like more than apples have been thrown at her already.

Is this how you say APPALACHIA?

If not, how do you say it? And who told you that was the way to pronounce it?

I mentioned above that I did an interview. If you'd like to hear a bit about my rearing and my struggles with chronic illness, I put the link for the radio show below. You can listen anytime.

Tune in to Speak UP! radio for an interview with Karen Bell

If you listen, I'd love to have your feedback. Tell me about your adventures and challenges growing up in APPALACHIA.

Or, tell me about the joys you remember.

I love hearing from you.