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The great old expressions and lingo of days gone by

This week's Hammer column looks at fund old sayings.

Those of us who have been blessed to live long enough to enjoy the ever- changing times of the new age can now sit back and enjoy the wild and wonderful new habits and crisp vocabulary being displayed by our 20th century generation. When we were kids way back in the 50s, 60s or before and beyond, it was a no-no to swear, especially in public, but we did somehow manage to come up with a whole lot of weird and wacky phrases, sayings, and dialogue to express ourselves for most occasions. Most of that verbal slang and the ‘hip lifestyles’ that was created by our rambunctious generation of children, teens, and young adults is now obsolete because of this new age of technology, but I would love to remind you of some, just for fun, and thanks to George Crowhurst for bringing them out of the closet.

Back in the olden days, we all thought we had a lot of ‘moxie’. We’d put on our best bib and tucker and straighten up and fly right. It was Hubba-hubba when we’d cut a rug in some juke joint and then go necking and petting and smoothing and spooning and billing and cooing and pitching woo in hot rods and jalopies in some passion pit, down lover’s lane, or at the local drive-in. Heavens to Betsy.,  Gee whillickers, jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, and Holy moley....we were always in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and not even the regular crowd or the nerds couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop, or a pill, not for all the tea in China. In those days, life used to be swell, but when was the last time that anything was swell, because swell has now gone by the way of beehives, pageboys, spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and pedal pushers. Oh my aching back, Kilroy was there then, but he isn’t anymore.

Like Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle and Kurt Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, we have become unstuck in time. We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say ‘I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.’ or ‘This is a fine kettle of fish.’, we soon discover that the words that we grew up with, the words that back then seemed as normal and every-day as oxygen and a 10 cent Coke have now vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues, our pens, and our keyboards. Poof, poof, poof go those great words of our youth that we left behind, erased in time from the landscape and wordscape of our perception, but on the other hand, who will ever forget Mickey Mouse wristwatches, hula hoops, skate keys, candy cigarettes, those little wax bottles of sugar water, and the organ grinder’s monkey on the street corner?

Just to remind our grandchildren and their parents that we, as wily seniors, did indeed have a really sharp and witty vocabulary and some great ideas when we were growing up, and that most of our conversations and social life were done face to face, without much swearing and with very little distraction from the phone or what-ever else. Here, believe it or not were some of  our favourite phrases and expressions. “Pshaw, the milkman did it, ”, “Think about the starving Armenians, ”, “Bigger than a bread box, ”, “Banned in Boston, ”, “The very idea of it., ”, “It’s your nickel., ,” “Don’t forget to pull the chain, ”, “Knee high to a grasshopper, ”, “Turn-of-the century, ”, “Iron Curtain, ”, “Domino theory, ”, “Fail safe, ”, “Civil Defense, ”, “Fiddlesticks, ”, “Fuddle-duddle, ”, “You look like the wreck of the Hesperus, ”, “Cooties, ”, “Going like sixty, ”, “I’ll see you in the funny papers, ”, “Don’t take any wooden nickels, ”, “Heavens to Murgatroyd, ”, “Carter had Liver Pills, ”, “Oh my stars and garters”, and awaaay we go with the good old Ed Sullivan Show, only to mention a few.

Whatever the case, just being able to remember how we communicated when we were young is a blast, but one of the greatest advantages of aging is that we can still be proud of our archaic past, but can also then go ahead and have a whole lot of fun trying to adjust to the neat and nifty lingo of the new era of conversation. On the other hand, there will always be some great expressions that have hung around for generations. I’m sure that your family and friends have many, but what comes to mind before I finish up this crazy old column and head for lunch are:  “How are yah?”, “Great Day,”, “Can I borrow the car dad ?”, “Lo and behold, ”, “See you later alligator”, “Bite the bullet, ”, “Hang in there”, and “Cat got your tongue?;?”; while two of the greatest expressions that have and always will make the ladies perk up are” ‘“I love you.’” and “50 per cent off..”.  In the meantime. please bring on the spring flowers, along with a few good showers, and have a great week, all of you.