Why Did I Leave The Plow In The Field?

The old homeplace by the pressley girls

The Old Homeplace

It's been ten long years since I left my home
In the hollow where I was born
Where the cool fall nights makes the wood smoke rise
And the fox hunter blows his horn.


I fell in love with a girl from the town
I thought that she would be true
I ran away to Charlottesville
And worked in a sawmill or two.


What have you done to the old home place
Why did they tear it down
And why did I leave the plow in the fields
And look for the job in the town.


Well the girl ran off with somebody else
The taverns took all my pay
And here I stand where the old home stood
Before they took it away.


Now the geese fly south and the cold wind blows
As I stand here and hang my head
I've lost my love I've lost my home
And now I wish that I was dead.

What have you done to the old home place
Why did they tear it down
And why did I leave the plow in the fields
And look for the job in the town.

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The song above was written by Dean Webb and Mitch Jayne. If you don't recognize their names-just let your mind drift back to the Andy Griffith Show-more specifically The Darlings...who were really The Dillards

I first fell in love with the song when I heard Tony Rice's version. I was just a kid-but from the instant the words breathed themselves through my ears and into my brain I knew it carried a powerful message of woe. 

As with many old songs, this one is written from the man's point of view, which can throw up an obstacle for female crooners. I've heard many female singers leave the point of view-preferring to stay true to the original writer. 

Chatter and Chitter have always been girls who walked to the beat of their own drum. The Pressley Girls never hesitate to change the gender of the song. Their reasoning: we all identify ourselves with the songs we love -no matter the gender point they are sung from. So if we're already "changing" the words in our head why not change them as they come out of our mouths as well? 

Although the girls slightly changed the words to the song-The Old Homeplace-it still packs a punch. 

First-you leave home and all you've ever known.

Second-you realize that home wasn't so bad after all.

Third-you meet someone who makes you feel a little better about your decision.

Fourth-that certain someone breaks your heart and leaves you at about the same time you realize home is where you need to be.

Fifth-you go home to find out it ain't there no more.

Sixth-you wish you were dead.

On some level, everyone can identify with the message the song sends. Dean Webb and Mitch Jayne sliding such a powerful story of life between less than 3 minutes of music is an amazing feat of songwriting.

Hope you enjoyed The Pressley Girls' version of The Old Homeplace

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I shared the post above with you back in 2014. I found myself thinking about the longing in the lyrics this week. Not because I've moved away from home looking for a job or a new love, but because I've once again been pondering the way we live our modern lives: scratching and scraping trying to get ahead and keep up with what society tells us we ought to have or own. Don't get me wrong I love and appreciate our modern day conveniences, but sometimes I wonder if things weren't easier and maybe even better when the most important thing was the plow in the field.  

Tipper

p.s. On Thursday March 2, 2017 6:30 p.m. Don Casada will be presenting a history of the Bryson City Cemetery and stories of some of those who are buried there. Many of these people as well as the cemetery itself have played a significant role in the history and development of WNC. Info about the preservation and maintenance of the cemetery by Friends of the Bryson City Cemetery will also be included—Swain County Business Education Center 45 East Ridge Drive, Bryson City 28713 Conversation and Refreshments Following. All are welcome—No admission charge

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Overheard

Overheard in Appalachia
"If it goes down one of them holes it'll be ruint!"

Tipper

p.s. On March 2, 2017 6:30 p.m. Don Casada will be presenting a history of the Bryson City Cemetery and stories of some of those who are buried there. Many of these people as well as the cemetery itself have played a significant role in the history and development of WNC. Info about the preservation and maintenance of the cemetery by Friends of the Bryson City Cemetery will also be included—Swain County Business Education Center 45 East Ridge Drive, Bryson City 28713 Conversation and Refreshments Following. All are welcome—No admission charge

Overheard: snippets of conversation I overhear in Southern Appalachia

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The Gunter Cabin

The Gunter Cabin Fontana NC

The Gunter Cabin - Fontana Village NC

Welch Cove Pioneers:
The Gunter Family

Jessie Gunter was born in the Stecoah Valley to Hiram and Bettie Gunter. He and seven siblings grew up helping work their small farm. When Nancy Catherine Richardson arrived from South Carolina to teach at the Stecoah School, she and Jessie became smitten and decided to marry.

In 1875, Jessie and Catherine traveled with their four children to Welch Cove where Jessie's brother Cyrene lived. The brothers constructed a cabin for Jessie's growing family that has since been hailed as some of the finest carpentry in all the Smokies. The walls were made from large tulip poplar trunks, split and joined with half dovetail notches. Cherry and poplar puncheons, slabs of wood flattened on one side, comprised flooring across squared joists. A staircase was built to reach the upper floor and white oak shingles were hewn for roofing. The fact that the cabin has survived so long stands as a testament to the quality of the brothers' work. 

Sadly, the family only enjoyed the cabin for a short time. A great blizzard assailed the area in the winter of 1884. Two of the Gunter children, 10 year old Bettie and 14 year old Hiram, fell gravely ill. In the absence of a doctor, both children succumbed to their illness and passed away as the blizzard raged outside.

Jessie, refusing to bury his boy and girl in a "green wood coffin," used the only dry lumber available: his puncheon floors. In a coffin wide enough for both children, they were laid to rest in what would become the Welch Cove Cemetery. Catherine battled depression for four years after this horrific loss until she, too, passed away in her sleep in 1888. Jessie fashioned her coffin in the same way as the first before leaving the cabin floorless and returning to Stecoah Valley. 

~Excerpt from Fontana Village Plaque that hangs in the restored Gunter Cabin.

--------------------

Last week some folks at work had to go to Fontana Village for a few classes and that got me to thinking about the Gunter Cabin and the sad sad story of Jesse and Catherine. I wonder if the people who moved in after Jesse left replaced the floor...and if they knew why it was missing.

I went to elementary school with a girl who's last name was Gunter I wish I could go back in time and tell her to ask her grandmother or grandfather if they knew of Jesse Gunter. 

If you've never been to the Stecoah and Fontana Village area of Graham County NC you need to go-a beautiful place indeed.

Tipper

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Did You Ever Play Blind Man's Bluff?

Blind Mans Bluff

According to the Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, the game Blind Man's Bluff is as old as the 16th Century. It was a game I never liked playing as a kid. I was always afraid someone would get hurt-namely me! Its one of those games that makes grown-ups yell things like "Somebodys going to put an eye out!" 

Frank C. Brown tells us the various names used for the game throughout the world:

  • Germany: Blinde kuh, blinde maus, blinde eule, piep maus, and blinde katze
  • Denmark: Blinde-momme, lege Mus i Morke
  • France: Mouch, colin-maillard
  • Italy: mosca, mosca cieca
  • And other english names: billy blind, blind harie, blind hob, blind bucky davy, and hoodman blind

The game begins with a person being chosen to be blindfolded from the group of game players-typically by a counting rhyme or by drawing straws. Once the person is blindfolded, they try to touch or tag one of the other players. If the blindfolded person tags another person-that person has to be 'it' and the blindfold is switched to them.

The other players generally tease the person who is 'it' (blindfolded) and try to force them to run in their direction-then quickly move out of the way before they can be tagged.

All the games of Blind Man's Bluff I participated in as a kid ended up in total chaos until everyone decided to play something else and some of the games ended up with someone bawling their eyes out after they got hurt somehow during the game.

Did you ever play blind man's bluff?

Tipper

p.s. Typepad found an issue with my music player and I had to remove it...probably for good. But I made direct links to playlists full of our music on youtube. Look over in the right side-bar and you'll see a photo to click on and listen to Pap and Paul and one to listen to The Pressley Girls. 

p.s.s. This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn back in 2013.

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The High Sheriff

Law enforcement cherokee county 1900s cherokee county historical museum

Photos courtesy of the Cherokee County Historical Museum

 

high sheriff noun A sheriff, the chief law enforcement officer of a county, in contrast to deputy sheriffs, constables, and other officers. Cf short sheriff.
1939 Hall Coll. Gatlinburg TN My daddy was high sheriff. (Richard Reagan) 1956 Hall Coll. Jones Cove TN Grandfather come back up here to Jonesboro, Tennessee, and married in eighteen twenty-six. He was high sheriff there for a while. (Lewis Hopkins) 1958 Wood Words from Tenn 11 Here...it is usual to refer to the duly elected sheriff as the high sheriff. Not only does this pay homage to his ascendancy, but it also distinguishes him from deputy sheriffs, constables, etc. 1973 GSMNP-4:33 Well, he was just a sheriff of that section over there. He wasn't high sheriff. 1973 GSMNP-83:26 I was sworn in five time deputy sheriff, and I was a special deputy under [the] high sheriff of Sevier County two year. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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Pap always referred to the sheriff of Clay and Cherokee County as the High Sheriff. I don't think I've ever heard anyone else use the term and probably won't now that Pap's gone.

A few years back Blind Pig Reader Devonia Cochran left a humorous comment about the term high sheriff.

True story : a ZILLION years ago, I attended a school board meeting. The best I can remember - which is faulty - there were a couple kids who had been in some mischief and I think maybe it involved "illegal substance" /not sure  -  early 70s. One of the school board members who genuinely cared, leaned forward and asked the student, "Son, will you tell the High Sheriff?"  Oh Tipper, by the look on that kid's face, I don't think the student had ever heard of the Sheriff as being "high." LOL   

Tipper

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The Angel of Brasstown by Jim Casada

A few weeks back I told you I was featured in the February/March issue of Smoky Mountain Living. Blind Pig Reader Jim Casada wrote the piece. I had nary a clue that he planed to write it nor that it would be in the magazine until it was! Many of you have emailed me to say you couldn't find the magazine but would love to read the article so I'm sharing it today. Jim's kind words still make me blush even though I've read them a couple dozen times myself. 

Blind Pig and the Acorn and Tipper Pressley featured in Smoky Mountain Living

Jim Casada Copyright 2016

TIPPER PRESSLEY: THE ANGEL OF BRASSTOWN

Folks commenting on Tipper Pressley’s daily blog, “Blind Pig & the Acorn,” often call her the “angel of Brasstown.” The description’s geographical part is easily explained. She lives in the crossroads community of Brasstown in far southwestern North Carolina, a location best known for the annual New Year’s ‘Possum Drop and a storied bastion of Appalachian folkways, the John C. Campbell Folk School.

Explaining the moniker’s angel part is more demanding and open to multiple interpretations. Among them are an angelic face graced by a permanent smile; an approach to life conjuring recollections Loweezy’s quote in the Snuffy Smith comic strip, “gooder’n airy angel;” and her keen interest in crafts such as corn husk angels and decorative paintings depicting angels. But where Pressley really shines in earning earthly angel wings is passionate devotion to celebrating and perpetuating our rich, varied Appalachian heritage. As she puts it in describing her daily blog, which first appeared in 2008, “All you really need to know is I’m crazy in love with . . . Appalachia—the people, the food, the music, the colorful language, the sustainable lifestyle, the soaring mountains, and the deep dark hollers.”

In truth there’s far more to know. She’s a marvelous cook specializing in traditional high country cuisine who teaches classes at the Folk School and in other settings; talented musician whose bass playing helps showcase the singing and instrumental talents of her twin daughters, Corie and Katie, brother Paul, and recently deceased father, Jerry; skilled photographer with an exceptional eye; serious student of mountain history; writer; storyteller; and speaker. Atop all that she has a full-time job at Tri-County Community College where, among other duties, she manages the college’s website.

Tipper’s interests, invariably attuned to her passion for place, range even wider than her abilities and are daily displayed in Blind Pig & the Acorn (www.blindpigandtheacorn.com). The blog’s title, taken from an Appalachian adage suggesting that even a blind hog occasionally roots up tasty oak mast, enjoys considerable and growing popularity. Performing a daily balancing act that that avoids contentious comments common in many blogs, Pressley educates and entertains while celebrating southern Appalachia’s attributes through a steady flow of noteworthy material. A heartfelt comment from one reader succinctly summarizes what many readers have discovered: “You have done so very much to make me proud of my heritage.”

That pride involves an array of topics, with one of Tipper’s strongest attributes being the ability to infuse almost any subject with immediacy and interest. Another is insatiable curiosity. Vanishing mountain customs, old-time edibles, or some obscure subject once commonplace to those calling the region’s steep ridges and deep valleys home all form fair game.

Among Pressley’s encyclopedic interests are a number of threads which run as bright strands through her blog’s entire fabric. One favorite is the monthly “Appalachian Vocabulary Test” where five words are offered to see if readers know or use them.

Another recurring theme is music. Her college-age twins, Katie and Corie (“Chitter” and “Chatter” in the blog), possess ample quantities of the family’s deeply entrenched musical talent, and they now perform regularly at regional church gatherings, fairs, and folk festivals. They play guitar, fiddle, and mandolin while offering exquisite harmony reminiscent of the likes of the Louvin Brothers or their grandfather and Uncle Paul. Tipper’s father, the late Jerry Wilson (“Pap” on the blog) and his brother, Ray, were an acclaimed regional singing duo and recipients of a North Carolina Heritage Award in 1998, while Paul is an accomplished guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Readers of Blind Pig & the Acorn can savor scores of selections from the family musical archives while reading the latest blog post.

Given her love of the land, gardening is another prominent theme. Her husband Matt (the blog’s “Deer Hunter”), a skilled jack-of-all trades, enters the scene doing everything from simple tilling to greenhouse construction. Blog readers actually serve as testers for Asheville heirloom seed company Sow True Seed, and from winter’s seed-starting time right through to fall harvest, there are regular updates on everything from herbs to “tommytoes,” cabbage to corn. Use of crops on the family table and for canning, drying, preserves, and pickles also looms large.

Traditional mountain crafts form another area of prominence on the blog. Periodically some craft project are covered, and each year near Christmas Tipper offers unique family creations for sale, such as knitted and crocheted items made her mother (“Granny”) and CDs from various members of this musical clan. Each twin has her own Etsy shop, respectively featuring jewelry and handmade soaps, oils, and balms.

Selfless in promoting mountain heritage, Tipper generously shares links to other Appalachia-related blogs in her “Sit a Spell” section. There are frequent historical posts with coverage ranging from Civil War letters back home to stories underlying popular ballads, from forgotten customs such as dumb suppers to Decoration Day or all-day singings. Yet the blog involves more than “pause and ponder” reading material leavened by ear-soothing music.

The blog’s visual impact sometimes stirs the viewer’s soul. Pressley’s keen photographer’s knack for capturing commonplace scenes from strikingly different perspectives often draws immediate attention. Daily comments from readers provide insight and information. Where responses on many blogs deteriorate into sniping, here there’s a sense of shared passion. Readers feel they are part of an extended family. As a personal example of this togetherness, I’ve obtained candy roaster seeds from fellow Blind Pig fans, received helpful suggestions on troublesome gardening problems, and been reminded of how tasty springtime pigweed (purslane) can be.

Adding a bit of spice to Tipper’s heady literary brew are occasional guest posts. The quality of these varies, but unfailingly they come from the heart and evoke a deep, abiding love for Appalachia. That affinity for Appalachia, masterfully molded and melded by a true Appalachian angel, forms the essence of Blind Pig & the Acorn.

To date well over three thousand blogs devoted exclusively to heralding all that is good and gracious, endearing and enduring, about the mountain way of life have appeared. Quantitatively only by John Parris’ storied “Roaming the Mountains” newspaper column from yesteryear surpasses that figure. Only in her mid-40s, Tipper Pressley likely will give us stories on the glories of Appalachia for many a year and yarn to come.

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Jim Casada is a son of the Smokies who has written extensively on his highland homeland and its people. He has a particular interest in distinctive mountain personalities and is currently completing a book, “Profiles in Mountain Character.” The Angel of Brasstown is the first of several profiles that Jim will be doing for the magazine Smoky Mountain Living so please be on the lookout for them. 

To learn more, visit his website, www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com.

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Tipper

p.s. Typepad found an issue with my music player and I had to remove it...probably for good. But I made direct links to playlists full of our music on youtube. Look over in the right side-bar and you'll see a photo to click on and listen to Pap and Paul and one to listen to The Pressley Girls. 

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Pam's Cubed Steak

Best recipe for cubed steak

I didn't used to be a fan of cooking cubed steak. I always fried it like Granny did and like Granny's, sometimes it turned out good and sometimes it was so tough you could barely chew it.

A few years back my friend Pam shared her secret for cooking cubed steak with me and I've been cooking it that way ever since.

There isn't a firm recipe, but I've found it to be a practically fool proof process.

Easy way to cook cubed steak

First flour and season your cubed steak as you normally would to fry it.

Pour olive oil or whatever oil you like to cook with in a frying pan and heat. 

Place floured seasoned cubed steaks in hot pan and brown on each side, but don't worry about cooking it through.

Once both sides are browned place cubed steaks in a crock pot.

Add a tablespoon or two of flour to the frying pan like you were going to make gravy from the drippings. Cook and stir flour for a few minutes and then pour in chicken stock. Continue to cook and stir while gently scraping the cooked pieces off the bottom of the pan. After a few minutes of cooking, pour chicken stock over the cubed steak in the crock pot and cook on low for a several hours or until done. 

I aim for having enough chicken stock to almost cover the cubed steak in the crockpot. The last time I used about 4 cups of stock for about 3 lbs of cubed steak. 

The meat turns out super tender and the broth makes a gravy that is perfect for putting over mashed potatoes or rice. 

The first time Pap ate Pam's Cubed Steak at my house he loved it. He said it reminded him of the cubed steak and rice he used to eat at the truck stops when he trucked up the eastern seaboard. And The Deer Hunter loves it too, actually we all do!

Tipper

p.s. Typepad found an issue with my music player and I had to remove it...probably for good. But I made direct links to playlists full of our music on youtube. Look over in the right side-bar and you'll see a photo to click on and listen to Pap and Paul and one to listen to The Pressley Girls. 

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Little Debbies and The Pressley Girls

Little Debbie Jolene Spoof by The Pressley Girls
Back a few years ago the girls learned the Dolly Parton classic Jolene. I shared the video of them doing the song in my weekly Pickin' and Grinnin' in the Kitchen Spot in April of 2015. 

As often happens when we're making music we all get to cracking jokes and being silly. Actually I believe on the occasion of learning Jolene it was Paul and the girls being silly. One thing led to another and they begin singing about Debbie instead of Jolene

If you're not familiar with Little Debbies you can find out all about them here

The snack cakes have always been popular in this area and Granny has always had a box or two in the cabinet by the frig. I don't eat Debbies much these days, but I went through a spell in high school where I ate a fudge round every day for lunch. One of my best friends from childhood loved Little Debbies so much that one Christmas someone wrapped up a box for her and put it under the tree at church.

For several years I bought Chitter a box of chocolate cream pies every week. That's how the spoof of the song came about. Someone was teasing her about her Little Debbie addiction. 

Debbie Debbie Debbie Debbie oh how I long for thee. Debbie Debbie Debbie Debbie please don't disappoint my belly. 

That snack cake is beyond compare, with filling that's so sweet and rare, with a wrapper that seals the freshness in. That little girl with crimson locks upon the corner of the box makes promise of the prize that waits within.

Debbie Debbie Debbie Debbie oh how I long for thee. Debbie Debbie Debbie Debbie please don't disappoint my belly. 

I've seen you slipping round the house; yes you're as sneaky as a mouse, but remember that Debbie belongs to me. You ate the other eleven before, so you best not touch the cabinet door, for you don't know how crazy I can be.

Debbie Debbie Debbie Debbie oh how I long for thee. Debbie Debbie Debbie Debbie please don't disappoint my belly. 

I hope my words are making sense because I need some nutrients to warn you, you can't say I haven't tried. I should have moved it somewhere else and not left it there upon the shelf, but I thought that you were satisfied.

Debbie Debbie Debbie Debbie oh how I long for thee. Debbie Debbie Debbie Debbie please don't disappoint my belly. 

You talk about it in your sleep, but there's other things that you could eat, and I really need that Little Debbie. I had to have this talk with you; my hunger now depends on you and whatever you decide to do Katie. 

Debbie Debbie Debbie Debbie oh how I long for thee. Debbie Debbie Debbie Debbie please don't disappoint my belly. Please don't disappoint my belly.

Although the girls and Paul worked out the silly lyrics to the Little Debbie Jolene spoof they never truly learned them. 

If you've been a Blind Pig reader for a good long while you'll probably remember the girls made Pap a special dvd of songs he hadn't heard them do for Christmas each year. This year they made the surprise dvd for Paul and they finally recorded the spoof.

I hope you enjoyed the spoof. If you're a Little Debbie fan I bet you'll ever eat another one without thinking of Chatter and Chitter.

Tipper

p.s. If you missed the Blind Pig email yesterday-it's because I failed to send it out at the right time! Silly me...I chose p.m. instead of my usual a.m. If you missed the post for Saturday you can go here.

p.s.s. Typepad found an issue with my music player yesterday and I had to remove it...probably for good. But I made direct links to playlists full of our music on youtube. Look over in the right side-bar and you'll see a photo to click on and jump over and listen to Pap and Paul and one to jump over and listen to The Pressley Girls. 

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When You Get in the Habit of Saying the Same Thing

Habitual sayings you know - like - so - anyway

Have you ever been around someone who used the same word or words in every sentence? Years ago, I was introduced to a man who at the end of every sentence said and what not. I remember being obsessed with listening to him. I wanted to see if just once he wouldn't say and what not. It never happened. He said the phrase at the end of every sentence just like clock work.

A few other habitual sayings I've heard:

  • you know 
  • anyway
  • you know what I'm saying
  • now it'n it
  • like
  • ah or uh
  • now
  • well
  • the thing is
  • so

I'm sure you've heard some of the ones I mentioned, but sometimes folks habitually say things that aren't so common.

When Pap was growing up, Old Man Bud Baker lived over in the next holler. Pap said everyone loved Bud because he was a lot of fun to be around. Bud's habitual saying was si hell. Pap said no matter what Bud was telling or talking about he always started it with si hell.

Pap said one day Bud came around telling "Si hell I killed a rattlesnake that was 5 foot long yesterday." Pap's father, Wade, said he didn't really believe there were rattlesnakes that big. Bud answered back "Si hell I know it was cause I measured it."

Another elder from Pap's childhood named George was fond of saying now I hell at the beginning of his sentences. Actually Pap said George's entire family took up the habit of saying now I hell.

George lived at the head of Pinelog and one day a trader came to see him about buying a milk cow. The trader asked if the cow was a good milker and George told him "Now I hell she gives a waste of milk." Taking George's comment to mean the cow gave to much milk to use the trader bought the cow.

Didn't take long for the trader to figure out the cow wasn't a good milker. He soon came around to ask about the cow's lack of milk. George said "Now I hell I told you she gives a waste of milk. She gives enough to cream your coffee but not enough to make gravy!"

L.C. who was Pap's best friend was known for saying I tell you what at the start of his sentences. 

After listening to the recording of Luke Bauserman interviewing me it's pretty obvious I've picked up the habit of saying you know

Do you have a habitual saying or know someone who does?

Tipper

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Words for Love in Appalachia

 

Courting in appalachia

In Appalachia... 

courting = dating

sparking = dating

sweet on = means you like someone

he-ing and she-ing = hugging and kissing

slip off = elope

serenade or shivaree = a loud noisy celebration
occurring after a wedding

courts like a stick of wood = a person who is awkward
when courting

jump the broom = get married

took up = 2 people who start courting or move in together

going steady = serious dating

struck on = means you like someone

going with = dating

get hitched = get married

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When I was young someone was always asking me if I was courting yet.

Granny and Pap slipped off from Granny Gazzie and got married without her knowing it. 

Along with courting and slip off  I still hear: took up, jump the broom, he-ing and she-ing, going with, struck on, and sweet on in my part of Appalachia. The others have faded away. 

For more about courting in Appalachia-visit Dave Tabler's Appalachian History site

I'm sure I left some courting sayings out-if you think of one leave it in a comment!

Tipper

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