This small south Arkansas city was once one of the top oil producers in the nation.
A few bits of Arkiana, definitions and elaborations, alphabetically arranged for your convenience, to pass a few minutes of a slow week.
All get-out. A vague superlative, the meaning of which eludes and perplexes the authorities. "Them catfish are meaner than all get-out."
Arkansas go-getter. Said of an Arkansas man who has no job but has a wife who does have a job, "I take her to work in the morning, and then in the evening I go-getter."
Big old good 'un. The same as a good old big 'un. The direct object needn't be specified. And it needn't be big, old, good, or just one.
Cellar. A basement. Cellar is sometimes used in storm cellar or root cellar, but if it's a dark airless place under the house at the bottom of the stairs, one that looks like the set of a horror movie, it's a basement.
Coffee. A non-native editorial writer eager to sound folksy went into a Little Rock diner not so long ago and ordered a cuppa joe. I'd bet anything that the very next words he heard were, "You ain't from around here, are you, Slick?" No Arkie ever ordered joe, or a cuppa joe, or a cuppa anything. Or no Arkie ever did it without getting hoorawed something fierce.
Deep freeze. A food freezer about the size of John Adams' casket. The deep freeze was the most common piece of front porch furniture in Arkansas throughout the previous century. "If you don't stay out of my deep freeze, I mona kill you."
Dingleberry. The worst of our native berries for making jam.
Dinner. The noon meal. The evening meal is supper. We don't have brunches, at least not on purpose. Or teas.
Done crossed over into Campground. Dead.
Fixing to. Preparing to. As in, "If you don't shut up, I'm fixing to kill you."
Gone to glory. Dead.
Goober. Can refer to an idiot, a peanut or a penis. The people of Goobertown, halfway between Jonesboro and Paragould, used to be called goobers, but now it's said that the population is "about half goobs and half rubes."
Horsecock. What stick bologna used to be called. In this same neck of woods, in the same time period, Vienna sausages, which aren't sausages and didn't come from Vienna, were often called puppy peckers.
HOT Springs. Visitors and relative newcomers put the emphasis on the first name of this Arkansas resort town; they call it HOT Springs. Natives and longtime residents put the emphasis on the Springs part, pronouncing it Hot SPRINGS. It's the same deal with PINE Bluff v. Pine BLUFF. Also, DeWitt v. DEEwitt.
Houseshoes. Most of the rest of the country calls them slippers.
Jaybirds. According to Vance Randolph, quoting well-known auspexes in Waldron, jaybirds carry firewood to Hell every Friday.
Lost. Going to Hell when you die.
Love offering. This is a second passing around of the collection plate at the same church service, the money designated for a special purpose, often to pay the visiting evangelist at a revival meeting.
Might near. Almost. "I'll eat might near anything, excepting a eel." Purt near is not quite as near as might near.
Mona. A contraction of the words "am going to." As in, " If you don't shut up, I mona kill you."
Naught. Aught. "Jethro's fixing to be a double-naught spy."
Peckerwood. Turn it around it's a bird, but with the pecker first it's a jasper whose highest aspiration is to live in a doublewide in a trailer park. There are no female peckerwoods, or black peckerwoods of either sex.
Removed kinfolks. I don't understand the concept. I've read the usage mavens and I'm still at a loss. How is it possible, for instance, that my first cousin twice removed is not the same amount of kin as my second cousin once removed? And where do they go when they're removed? Is it like the Cherokee Removal along the Trail of Tears?
Ring-tailed tooter. A family of nocturnal stalker critters, with subspecies that include the Going Jessie. Except for the ringed tail, tooters are hard to describe, but you'll know one if it gets after you on a country road at night.
Sack. What our groceries come in. People elsewhere call it a bag.
Saved. Going to Heaven when you die.
Stuffing. We don't call our main Thanksgiving dinner turkey go-with stuffing; we call it dressing. Stuffing belongs in a mattress or a couch, not in a turkey.
Th'ow. Fling. Chunk. "If you don't quit th'owing rocks at passing cars, I mona kill you."
Whatnot. Doodad. A store at Ico is named Nanaw's Nick-Nacks.
Y'all. This is a plural, referring to at least two people. Only tin-eared visitors from colder climes would think of using it in the singular: "Y'all are my best friend; I just love you to death."
Yard. What we usually call a lawn. If farm animals are eating grass off of it, it's a pasture.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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