Like some of you, I grew up in the era when tests at school were prepared on mimeograph machines that utilized a lovely-smelling purple ink.
My parents had one to reproduce the daily specials for a restaurant they owned.
I thought it was a great toy when it was stored away in our attic.
But along came copiers, most of them in the early days were made by Xerox.
While there were many imitators in the ensuing years, Xerox was the name that most people identified with the copier. Folks called copies made by any copier “a Xerox copy,” which didn’t make the folks at Xerox too happy.
There is something about brand names that creep into and sometimes out of our vocabulary.
I had an aunt that called every kind of refrigerator a “Frigidaire,” which is a brand name of refrigerators and other appliances. I had another aunt who referred to a refrigerator as the “ice box,” which is not a brand name but was the forerunner of the refrigerator. I don’t know anyone who has had to have home ice deliveries in the past 50 years.
Long before I was born, there was a brand of automobile called Duesenberg.
Their slogan was “It’s a Duesy.” They quit making Duesenbergs in 1937, but the word hung on and became “doozy,” as in “Watch that first step, it’s a doozy.”
The only person who I remember using that term with any regularity was actress Shirley Booth in her portrayal of the Baxters’ housekeeper, Hazel.
I also have enjoyed the numerous euphemisms concocted to avoid saying “swear” or “damn.”
One of the aforementioned aunts would also say “I suwanee,” as in “Well, I suwanee, there was a piece of ice box pie in the Frigidaire.” A similar euphemism was “I declare,” which came off more like “I dee-clare.”
There were others such as “I’ll be John Brown.” One can only assume this is the same John Brown that we sang about in that old song, “John Brown’s baby had a cold upon its chest,” sung to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Others include: “I’ll be dog-gone,” “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle” and “I’ll be dad-gummed.”
I’m not sure if John Brown was related to Cooter Brown, who is the individual who became the measuring stick for drunkenness. “He was as drunk as Cooter Brown,” folks would say. Perhaps John Brown’s baby might have fared better if given a shot of Cooter Brown’s drink for medicinal purposes. The song tells us that they rubbed the baby’s chest with camphorated oil. My momma believed in both, a little camphorated oil and a little brown firewater mixed with honey and lemon juice.
Another one of those great Southern expressions was the shortened version of “Lord have mercy.”
I have heard it as both “Lordy mercy,” and “Lord a-mercy.”
I have a friend of mine who hold’s the title of “The Very Reverend” at one of those churches where they read a lot of responsive readings that include “Lord Have Mercy.”
Just once, I would have loved to have heard my aunt chime in with a good strong “Lordy mercy.”
I suwanee, it would have been a doozy.
Harrris Blackwood is the author of “When Old Mowers Die.” His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.