SOOOO happy to post this photo because it means that I’ve completed the typing of three years worth of Dad’s letters! And what an adventure these past few months have been. Now the real work of creating “the book” must begin. Fortunately, I’ve got a plan . . .
As I continue to type Dad’s letters, smiling all the while (because it’s fun to imagine my Dad writing them as a 20 year young man), I’ve been gathering remnants of the lexicon that was fashionable in the forties. I will add to this list as I come across sayings we rarely hear nowadays (and please feel free to add ones you might hear from your great, great relatives!):
- The old duck (a 74 year old European story teller)
- Chum around together [hanging with your peeps]
- t’other [as in, you take one, I’ll take t’other]
- I’m back in the chips again [after being paid]
- Pretty classy [I suppose we’d say ‘stylish’?]
- Weather is wetter than babies’ diapers [how’s that for a simile?!]
- Those so and so’s [i.e., sonsofbitches]
- Fair to middling [feeling only okay]
- Full of vim and vinegar [fiesty!]
- Get dolled up [so you’ll be looking fine for your babe]
- Terrific [used to express excess or something horrendous ]
- You’ld think… [an unusual contraction]
- Methinks… [perhaps he was trying to be “classy”!]
- ___ will come in mighty handy [fill in, “the dollar you sent”]
- I’m a’raring to go [so look out, world, I’m ready!]
- That fellow is really tops [and is probably a swell chap!]
- Spry young man [lively, energetic, fun]
- Stepping out [hitting the town, looking for action!]
- Perchance [quite the elegant way of saying ‘perhaps,’ or ‘maybe’]
- The laundry “did me dirt” last week…[didn’t come back dirty because it didn’t come back at all! Our much more crass saying today would be, “screwed me over”]
- Gaily decorated tables [the word “gay” continues to evolve from the original meaning of “bright” or “cheerful”]
- Someone ‘put us wise’ to an empty barn…[now we might say “schooled us” or “told us about”]
- So I can’t kick too much [can’t complain too much]
- On the blink again [not working quite the way it should]
- All the Gilder Snerds and Vander Snoots of the town…[the upper crust of society–and perhaps “upper crust” is slowly becoming obsolete!]
- Swell…as in, “You’ve done a swell job on your homework, Jimmy,” or, “The dollar you sent in your last letter was swell!”
- No soap! [for “it’s not happening,” or “no way”]
- Umpteen times [I now use the word “kajillion” for large numbers]
- Here I am hale and hearty [and probably feeling “swell”]
- Bitching to beat hell [what the fellows did when unhappy]
- Fellows [dudes]
- Jalopy [a car which needed lots of TLC to stay running]
I’ll keep my eyes peeled (yuck!) for more swell saying!
On October 25th, 2010, one of my high school sophomore English students asked, “What was your dad’s generation called?” She wanted to know so that she could add some meat to her VFW speech competition essay. The topic was, “Does your generation have a role in America’s future?” I whip out my cell phone (which we were not supposed to use in school) as I tell them the prompt should read, “What will be your generation’s role in America’s future,” and call home. To my delight, Dad, almost 87 and a WWII veteran, picks up.
“Hello, Leadville!” I hear his jovial voice, and my students smile—delighted to see their teacher breaking a rule. I explain the purpose of my call, and get an immediate response:
“The Greatest Generation.” Journalist/News Anchor Tom Brokaw termed the phrase in his 1998 book. I can hear the pride in Dad’s voice; he knows that my students are listening.
Jump to today, almost one year later, and I finally have the time to dig more deeply into Dad’s life to write my own responses to his experiences. This morning on the phone my Mom suggests that Dad might like to post something to my blogs now and then, and it hits me–OF COURSE! Who better to respond to the treasures I discover in Dad’s letters home over 60 years ago than the author of the letters himself!
And so…Dad…if you’re reading this, I would like to invite you–formally–to co-author my book! Whadaya say?