Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week - BACCER

Our word this week is one I don't know first-hand, only as an observer. It's BACCER. At least that's how it was pronounced. The actual word is TOBACCO.

BACCER refers to anything made from the tobacco leaves. Most people only know about the ones that produce smoke -- cigarettes, cigars, and pipes.

I remember most people referred to cigarettes as "Cancer Sticks." Everyone seemed to know they caused health problems, but they smoked them anyway. I always avoided getting close enough to anyone who smoked. It clogged my sinuses and, well, stank.

There are several ways to store BACCER
There are other ways to utilize BACCER that don't require lighting it and making it smoke. I'm grateful about the "no smoke" part, but I'm not so keen on the other aspects of using BACCER.

If you're a chawer (chewer) of BACCER, you break off a chunk of a block of BACCER, cut off a wad of a plug of BACCER, or pinch a little out of your pouch or tin of BACCER and stick it into your mouth between your gum and cheek.

This method of chawin' BACCER has its health concerns, too. I've seen photos of men who have chawed so much BACCER that ulcers or cancer have eaten through their gums and cheeks. Even if it's not that bad, you have to deal with the staining the BACCER leaves on your teeth. I hope you are happy I didn't post any photos of these negatives of chawin' BACCER.

Another side to chawin' BACCER is the dark brown juice it creates inside your mouth. You surely don't want to swallow that stuff. So, what do you do with the BACCER juice? You spit it. This is why spittoons used to be so popular in the wild west.

Since carrying around a spittoon is a bit cumbersome, most people either spit outside or carry around an old coffee can to spit their BACCER juices into. Talk about disgusting!

For your information, since most of the mountain folks I know didn't see much of how BACCER grows, I thought I'd show you a few photos of the plants, the harvesting, and the drying.

Harvesting the BACCER plants

The BACCER stalks after they've been stripped

Hanging BACCER in the barn to dry

Dried BACCER ready to go to market

I had never seen a BACCER plant until I went to college in central Kentucky. As a music major, I learned that marching bands shrank in size during the fall harvest of BACCER. All the kids who lived on a BACCER farm had to stay home from school and other activities until the last row of BACCER was gathered and taken to the barn to hang and dry.

BACCER has always disgusted me. It has a lot going against it. I especially don't like the health effects of a life of using BACCER. But, just like a lot of unhealthy things, it isn't my choice. I just hope our youth think twice or more before they allow BACCER to get a hold on them, just like any drug that tries to control them. Not only is it unhealthy, but it costs a lot of money better used for other things.

So, for you who know, did I get this right? Or are there things I missed? Tell me your stories.

Here are some Tweetables if you want to share:

Appalachian Word of the Week -- BACCER (Click here to tweet)

Ever known anyone who chaws BACCER? (Click here to tweet)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week - BLACKBERRY WINTER

BLACKBERRY bushes near my home

A couple of weeks ago we talked about Dogwood Winter. Today, I'm going to talk to you about BLACKBERRY WINTER. Most Appalachians know the significance of BLACKBERRY WINTER. We were told it was the last big cold spell before the weather turned warm. For me, down here in Atlanta, it means before the weather turns downright HOT!

A clear indication that BLACKBERRY WINTER has come and gone is the blooming of BLACKBERRY bushes everywhere.

Here in Atlanta, our BLACKBERRY bushes are in full bloom. It's exciting to drive down the road and see those lovely white blooms everywhere. I hope I can remember where I'm seeing them now so I can go back to visit them when they are ripe.

Back home in Kentucky, BLACKBERRY WINTER hasn't arrived yet. Atlanta is about two weeks ahead. So, all my Kentucky friends, hang on. BLACKBERRY WINTER and then the warmer weather are coming soon.


The beginnings of a BLACKBERRY

The maturing of a BLACKBERRY
I get excited thinking about the berries going from little white flowers to green nubby berries to red berries, to full-grown black juicy berries just begging to be picked and eaten.

When I was young, my dad and I went BLACKBERRY pickin' on Pine Mountain. I'm not sure why he insisted upon going up on the mountain to pick them. They were growing down where we lived, too. Perhaps it was because that's where he grew up and he knew very few people would venture up to the mountain to hunt them. Then again, maybe he thought those BLACKBERRIES were superior to the ones further down the mountain. I don't know.

I do know, however, that picking BLACKBERRIES in the mountains is an adventure. You have to climb up to some inhospitable areas to reach the bushes. Not only that, you have to watch out for other creatures in the mountain who think BLACKBERRIES are a delicacy, too. Like bears and snakes.

I remember one time particularly when we climbed up a limestone cliff (limestone is a bit unstable) to get to a patch of fabulous black, juicy BLACKBERRIES. I was only about four years old at the time. Coming back down with my pail filled with BLACKBERRIES, I hit a loose pile of stones and slid the rest of the way down the hill on my rear end, bouncing on every jagged edge of every rock. Those rocks dug into my tender four-year-old flesh and dug out chunks. I struggled valiantly to hang onto my bucket of BLACKBERRIES, though. I still had most of them when I slid into the bottom. "Bottom" being the operative word.

When we got home, Mom had to dig rock and dirt out of my skin and then torture me with Merthiolate (We talked about that a few weeks ago - ouch!). Sitting was not my favorite activity for quite a while.

But, it was almost worthwhile when Mom took those rescued BLACKBERRIES and baked them into a BLACKBERRY COBBLER. Still bubbling hot from the oven, she added a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Oh, my, what glorious memories. I'm salivating just thinking about it.


So, my friends, if you're going through a BLACKBERRY WINTER of your own, don't despair. The BLACKBERRY cobbler is coming.


BLACKBERRY WINTER and then the warmer weather are coming soon.

If you're going through a BLACKBERRY WINTER of your own, don't despair.

Do you have any funny, scary, or memorable stories of BLACKBERRY WINTER, picking BLACKBERRIES, or eating cobbler? I'd love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- JUICE

Do you know what JUICE means in Appalachia?

Now, sometimes it means what you drink. (See photos below the post)

But most of the time, JUICE is what we call electricity. From what I imagine, those early engineers, or salesmen, who planned to bring electricity into the mountains tried to explain it to the mountain folk by showing how juice flows through a straw or tube. I guess the explanation stuck. Of course, I'm just surmisin' all this.

Either way, mountain folk soon had JUICE flowing into their homes, making the way for indoor lighting, refrigerators, and all sorts of JUICE-powered gadgets. Like TVs, toasters, stoves, hair dryers, washing machines and dryers, and Christmas lights.

I'm not sure that most of the mountain folk fully understood the power and dangers of JUICE, though. Maybe it was just mountain pride.

Daddy added JUICE to the garage
An example of that is when my daddy decided it would be a good idee to run some JUICE from the house to the garage outside so he could see better to work on his car and find his tools. I think it may have also been so he could see and avoid those pesky bumbly bees and waspers that kept attacking him when he rummaged around in the dark trying to find a tool. Also would help with the nest of Copperheads that thought the garage was the perfect place to raise young.

Daddy's homemade ladder
Either way, he decided to pull out his homemade ladder one day and climb up to screw in a couple of receptacles for the JUICE. Then he tapped into the main JUICE box on the side of the house and ran a line over to his new light fixture.

Realize--he didn't turn off the source of the JUICE while he did this. My daddy wasn't a dumb man, just proud. So, when he connected the wires there was a blinding spark, a hum, a yell, and a man flying across the garage.

He was mad because it broke his ladder.

A little singed, he picked himself up, repaired the ladder, and climbed right back up there to finish the job -- while Mom and I stood on the porch watching in silent horror.

Have you ever had an exciting experience with JUICE in your house? Can you remember back to when you or a grandparent (great-grandparent) first had JUICE hooked up to the house?

Tell me your stories.


Do you know what JUICE means in Appalachia? (Click here to tweet)

There was a big spark, a yell, and a man flying across the garage

A Few More Photos for Your Enjoyment

A God-sized display of JUICE

Stereotype source of hillbilly JUICE

New fangled JUICE
Baby and teetotaler JUICE 

Where Daddy should have cut off the JUICE

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- JEET YIT?

How many of you have heard this term used? If you’ve been anywhere near the mountains of Kentucky, I’m sure you have. Know what it means?

JEET YIT? Is the question one person asks another when it’s near meal time. Usually, it means you would be right willing to join the person for a meal. Sometimes it means you would be right pleased to join them at their house for some vittles. Other times, you’re offering a meal to the person from the spread you have cooked up at your own house. Nowadays, it might mean you’d be open to taking a trip out to KFC or Rax for a bite to eat.

Know what JEET YIT? means yet? It means DID YOU EAT YET?

A little bit of breakfast
That meal might be breakfast, dinner, or supper. We don’t have lunch in the mountains. We have dinner. In the evening, we have supper.

If you’re having a meal together at somebody’s house, expect quite the spread. Breakfast from my daddy included bacon or sausage, eggs, fried potatoes, cathead biscuits with apple butter or creamed honey and butter. On special days, he also made buttermilk gravy.

Dinner usually included something quick like fried baloney sandwiches and fresh sliced tomatoes. In the winter, we might have a big pot of homemade beef vegetable soup and cornbread.

Fried baloney with mayo on white bread
Supper usually had a lot more choices than any other meal. We could have fried chicken (fresh from the back yard), frog legs, or a fried fish somebody caught that day. Then we had soup beans, onions, tomatoes, cornbread, cucumbers, corn on the cob, fried potatoes and onions, and anything else we could pick or pluck from the garden.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Hey, friend, JEET YIT?

What's your favorite mountain food that makes you drool to think about it?

*Special thanks to Harlan County friend, Ken Hensley, for the food photos.


Appalachian Word of the Week - JEET YIT? (Click here to Tweet)

What's your favorite mountain food that makes you drool to think about it? (Click here to Tweet)

A few more food photos:

Sliced tomatoes and onions go with anything

A pot of soup or stew can feed a lot of mouths

Gotta have a pone of cornbread 

Breakfast of fried baloney and biscuits and gravy

More breakfast options of fried potatoes and scrambled eggs