Time, Ancestors, and Southern Sayings

This morning I sat down to write a blog post, and that was three hours ago. I got sidetracked when I opened email first and found a notification of a post in an ancestry group to which I belong.

A member posted surnames from his great-great grandparents and invited others to do the same that we might see if we have any linked relatives. Of course I had to go check mine out. I discovered I had not gotten that far back on my father’s side of the family tree and thus the lost hours of my life as I got absorbed in finding the names. I could almost hear my mother’s soft old North Carolinian accent: “Oh, yes, her daddy was…but I’m not sure…” Memories bloomed and I was back home again. Time can sure fly when you’re having fun.

With my writer’s imagination, I heard these ancestor voices, saw their land near the Pasquotank River and ocean breezes, smelled the sunshine on grass and the humid wood of houses built on foundations of bricks. All of this is in my blood. And this all had me looking up a blog post I did on Southern sayings. (You can find it here.)

Now–follow my train of thought as to how a book idea gets started–a few Sundays ago a friend and I were discussing Southern women and their sayings. I said I wanted to compile the sayings in a book.

Quite suddenly this morning, with the voices of my ancestors still whispering in my ears like an episode of the Twilight Zone, I decided my next project is to get to it–compile the sayings of Southern women. Not quotes from famous people, but the wisdom and humor passed down the generations of everyday women of the hills and valleys and small towns and coastal shores, who are the ones who have held up civilization since the beginning. Which, of course, is the type of women to fill my fiction. This project will keep me entertained, and honoring my mother and grandmother, while I wait for the editor to finish work on my new book project.

I really should have done this before Mama’s last years. She would have been tickled and provided much material. Maybe she will speak to me now. She sure loved her heritage. But I begin today with listing all that I know.

I invite those of you who would like to contribute to post below things you heard your mother or grandmother or women of your family say.  I’ll be re-read them from the post of sayings two years ago. This is to be a Southern Women’s book of wise and humorous sayings. Just post them in the comments below to delight others who have heard the same.


10 thoughts on “Time, Ancestors, and Southern Sayings

  1. Enjoying your blog so much CurtissAnn!! I will be thinking back … back to my childhood summers in Tennessee… listening for the voices from Miss Nora, Aunt Gussie, Aunt Ruth… and on. What a delightful and fun project!


  2. My grandmother was from Missouri but spent most of her life in Oklahoma, which I counted as Southern until we lived in Georgia. I said my parents were from Oklahoma, and she replied, “Were they on our side during the war?” Oklahoma wasn’t a state then, so no, so they didn’t count as southerners. My grandmother was big on overlooking unimportant things. She’d say, “It will never be noticed from a galloping horse.” Very reassuring thought.


  3. There are so many, but the one I heard my granny, my mama and all my aunts (both sides!) say is – “He ain’t got the sense God gave a billy goat!” Now, I really am not sure exactly what kind of sense “God actually GAVE a billy goat” – but I knew that it meant whoever was being spoken of did not have any common sense at all! And now another comes to mind – “He ain’t got a lick of sense!” Again – no common sense! And I hear these in my Southern mama’s rural-country voice – when I went to “public work” as they used to say (as opposed to farming), I really had to work on MY rural, country accent!

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    • Oh, priceless, Shirley! Isn’t it precious to hear their voices in our memory. There is an inflection to these sayings, a certain way they are said. The one I can recall hearing is “He’s got no more sense than God gave a goose.” Well, now that I think of it, geese are not dumb. LOL! Thank you for sharing! What a smile you’ve given me.


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