My Dad’s Texanisms

Today is my dad’s birthday and I want to spend just a few minutes remembering a few of his favorite colloquialisms that reflected his deep Texas/Southern roots. These phrases also conveyed a particular attitude about life.

Everybody who has grown up in the South has heard the expression, “That old dog won’t hunt.” My dad used this phrase frequently over the 19 years he and I were together, especially when he was annoyed with behavior that he found unacceptable. For example, he might respond to my coming in fifteen or twenty minutes after my 11 pm curfew with a stern look and the words, “Len, we both know that old dog won’t hunt.” That meant that no daughter of his was allowed to be out “in the middle of the night!” doing who knows what with a boy who had you-know-what on his mind.

This leads me to another phrase (not colloquial) that my dad used with some frequency when I was in high school. This was often related to those curfew violations and it had everything to do with what he imagined (fairly accurately) was happening between my boyfriend and me in those last heated moments before he walked me inside the house at the end of a date. After my boyfriend left and after the lecture about being late that included “that old dog,” my dad would routinely end the conversation with this line: “Len, I was a sixteen-year-old boy about a minute and a half ago and I know exactly what that boy has on his mind.” Of course, I knew then and know even better now that he was 100% right.

Another phrase my dad used with a fair amount of frequency was “That’s all she wrote.” To put that into context, he might mutter that when watching Gunsmoke, immediately after James Arnez shot the bad guy. It meant that was the end of it even if we were going to watch five more minutes of wrap-up. In a more personal context, Daddy might describe a car wreck that he’d just heard about and add, “That’s all she wrote.” That meant the drivers were killed. In other words, this phrase implied that whatever he was referring to was now over and done. Finished. Complete.

One more of my father’s sayings that he used when I, at 4’11” and 110 pounds, worried aloud that I wasn’t as thin as Twiggy (a waif-like 60s model for those of you who are too young to know). He routinely shook his head and said, “First of all, you are perfectly proportioned. Just right.” Then he’d add, his voice taking on a more serious tone, “Besides, honey, a man needs a woman who can pull a plow in hard times. You be proud that you’re so healthy and strong.” It might have taken a while, I will admit, but I have come to realize that Daddy’s words about “pulling that plow” are truly wise. When the going gets tough, a man really does need a woman who can do her part to make sure all is well.

Daddy called me “Tootsie Roll,” and “Pumpkin” and made no bones about loving his curly-headed little girl. I am grateful I had him for as long as I did, and keep his memory safely tucked in my heart.

Happy birthday, Daddy.

My Dad

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Judy Alter says:

    Lovely memories, Len.

  2. Thank you, Judy. Much appreciated.

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