And climb the stairs to the beach...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Some Things I Want to Pass Down to My Grandchildren

Yesterday while I was golfing with my buddies, I spotted a golf ball lying next to the water hazard near the second tee box and I yelled out "I hosey that ball!" Nobody knew what I was talking about. I went on to explain to the three of them who grew up in Pennsylvania and Indiana, that it was a term we used as kids to stake a claim on the window seat in the car, the last cookie or the top hat in the Monopoly game.

As I tried to defend the old word, I began to wonder myself where the expression came from and told them all that I'd Google it when I got home. I did Google it and it is indeed an obscure regional phrase that it seems only New Englanders, and mostly folks from Massachusetts use. Some people used the term "I high hosey it", but most of my friends just used the word by itself. Although I couldn't find the origin of the term, I did find the following:
120. What do you say when you want to lay claim to the front seat of a car?
     a. dibs (20.99%)
     b. shotgun (69.04%)
     c. hosey (0.33%)
     d. high hosey (0.11%)
     e. I have no term for this (6.57%)
     f. other (2.96%)
     (10648 respondents)
All Results

Choice a: dibs

Choice b: shotgun

Choice c: hosey

Choice d: high hosey

Choice e: I have no term for this

Choice f: other

The more I thought about it, I am not really sure I've ever heard my own children use that expression. They just call "shotgun" or say "I Call the last piece of pizza!"  I decided I need to hand that expression down to my grandbabies, lest it become obsolete.

Our language is full of extinct phrases and words. Some deserve to be preserved and others, perhaps don't. But if we want the future generations to understand what we meant when they find an old letter we wrote or maybe even a blog post, we probably should teach them these things. Think of all the songs and old rhymes we learned as children that our grandchildren might never have the pleasure of singing or the advantage of  the wisdom these things contain.

Do you remember poems to help us choose things? The common one was of course was Eeny Meeny Miney Mo or One Potato, Two Potato. I remember one weird one that my friend Sue taught me. She's the only one I ever knew who did this one and I always thought she knew it because her mother was from Framingham. That was a town that bordered my hometown of Sudbury and I guess I thought of it as a foreign country when we were little. The poem went like this (why I still remember it I don't know.)

Inty Minty Dibbity Fig
Celia Nomma Nomma Nig.
I chie pichie domin ichie
On Bon Task
Ala kaballa ka boo
I'll take you. 

Then there was this one:
My mother and your mother were hanging out the clothes
My mother punched your mother right in the nose.
What color blood came out?
R-E-D and you are not it.

Along with endangered words or phrases, I worry about the loss of the love of poetry that really rhymes like I Never Saw a Purple Cow

 and *Birdie Birdie in the Sky; old nursery rhymes that mother's don't teach their kids these days like  Lizzie Borden Took an Ax. (okay so that one might be a little questionable)

And those old parodies passed down by generations like On Top of Spaghetti and *Great Big Globs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts. Actually, when I think about it I am quite sure songs like On Top of Spaghetti and GBGOGGGG will be taught to them by my sons, or by crazy Auntie Becky the Great, who knows lots of fun songs.

But certainly there are other words and songs and poems and phrases that I must remember to teach my little ones. I am going to make a list and I hosey that job!

Have a great day!

**Birdie, Birdie in the sky
Dropped some white stuff in my eye.
Boy, I'm glad that cows can't fly.


  1. Yes, I think about all those lost ditties and phrases that my grandchild/children probably won't know. I started to sing, 'I am a pretty little Dutch girl, as pretty as pretty can be but couldn't remember the rest. Think I just remembered. I'll have to re sing it to Lena! Check out JoAnna's blog about the expectorant!! :) Kathy

  2. Never heard hosey before. That's a crazy one. I wonder if Lizzie Borden is more of a local thing since she was from MA.


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