The Maynard Gang

An appropriate title for this week’s column does not readily suggest itself. For want of anything more punchy, we shall entitle it, “The Way People Used To Talk.” It has occurred to me that a typical Attica or Ingram store porch conversation in the 1950s or earlier would be so incomprehensible to the present generation that it would require translation.
Hunting allusions were frequent, as many of the store porch denizens hunted on a regular basis. Though enjoying the sport, hunting was primarily a meat gathering enterprise.
“Barking up the wrong tree” referred to a hound’s error in pursuing game and meant that the speaker was in obvious error. “The hole was slick” meant that coons or squirrels had peeled the bark by going in a hole on a tree trunk with regularity. To “see sign” had nothing to do with a metal or flashing neon sign but meant animal tracks or droppings that indicated the recent presence of game. Being “on a cold trail” described a hound’s difficulty in putting game to flight. Thus, a speaker not getting close to discovering the facts. “Anybody’s dog that will hunt with him” was a disparaging reference to a disloyal dog or a person whose allegiance could not be trusted. “A backstandin kind of feller” was one who “had your back.” The saying derived from a bird dog’s duty to “go on point” when another dog pointed quail. “Usin” meant that game frequented a particular area. To “bark treed” meant that a hound had chased a squirrel, coon, or possum up a tree. Clarence Smith of Maynard, referring to a speaker’s decisive winning of an argument, said, “he treed that feller.” To “jump” game was to rout it suddenly from where it was “bedded” or concealed. One of Uncle Ollie Murrell’s favorite expressions was, “well, I’ll be jumped up”, meaning that he was startled or astonished. Raymond, Billy and David Elkins had in “old Ippy” an excellent “jump dog.”

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