Tooth Jumper - Tooth Puller

Tooth jumper jumping teeth to pull them

tooth jumper, tooth puller noun An untrained dentist who uses a hammer and a nail to extract or cause a tooth to jump out. Cf tooth dentist.
1961 Seeman Arms of Mt 35 Imagine going to a mountain "tooth-jumper," who armed with hammer and nail and kept a pair of home-forged pliers handy! 1972 Cooper NC Mt Folklore 15 The tooth-puller and the tooth-jumper were known as Tooth Doctors. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Jumping the tooth involved placing a chisel or other metal object at the base of the hurting tooth, just under the gum line. While holding the chisel in place the tooth jumper took a hammer and gave it a good hard tap. If it was a successful tap, the tooth jumped out of it's hole.

The process of jumping the tooth sounds so horrible it makes you wonder why anyone would even attempt the method. Here's an excerpt on tooth jumping from John Parris in These Storied Mountains:

But them that really knowed how to tooth-jump could pop a tooth out of a feller's head before you could wink an eye. It was just that quick. It had to be. If one lick didn't jump the tooth out it was all-night-ice-'em. For if the tooth didn't come out with that first lick a feller just went plumb crazy and had to be hog tied till the job was finished.

While thinking of pulling or jumping teeth without numbing is hard to fathom-I do know if you had a severe toothache eventually you'd be willing for someone to help you know matter how bad it least I would. 


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Faintified - Feeling Fainty

I feel fainty

faintified, fainty adjective Feeling suddenly weak or faint.
1952 Wilson Folk Speech NC 538 This hot, dry weather makes me feel sickly and faintified. 1967 DARE faintified = having a sudden feeling of weakness, when sometimes the person loses consciousness (Maryville TN); fainty = having a sudden feeling of weakness (Gatlinburg TN). 1995 Montgomery Coll. I'm a little fainty this morning (Cardwell).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Although I've felt fainty before, I've never actually passed out. 

Since The Deer Hunter and I never had our wisdom teeth surgically removed we knew very little about the procedure the girls underwent last week. We were totally amazed at the speed with which the teeth were removed and we were surprised that it could be done in a dental office. We wrongly assumed it would be out patient surgery in a hospital. 

The folks who took care of the girls had the process down pat. Kids were going through there like an assembly line on the morning Chatter and Chitter had their teeth out. Lucky for us, the girls were the first patients of the morning.

Chitter went first and seemed fully awake and alert by the time Chatter was finished and both girls were in the recovery area. After about 20 minutes of sitting with them, the nurse said we were ready to go.

While Chitter was talking up a storm, Chatter was still so drowsy I was worried about her and questioned whether we shouldn't stay just a little bit longer. The nurse assured me she was fine and after giving us a list of instructions she helped us out the back door and into the car.

I left worried about Chatter, but it was Chitter who scared us to death. 

We'd barely got back on the highway when Chitter said she thought she might be sick. I was in the backseat with her and as we headed for home she got paler by the second. Twice she leaned over and squeezed my knee with the scariest expression on her face which made me feel totally panicked.

We'd only gone about 2 miles when she said she had to stop and get out because something was wrong. The Deer Hunter pulled into the next gas station and opened the car door for Chitter in case she threw up. In a flash Chitter passed out cold on us. I said "Let's take her back! Let's take her back!" 

The Deer Hunter jumped back in the drivers seat and quickly headed us up the road.

Chitter came back around but kept telling us she couldn't see, that everything was white. I was practically sitting in her lap. I kept patting her face and telling her it was going to be alright.

By the time we pulled back into the dentist office her lips were white as snow leaving the rest of her face the color of ashes.

I ran inside and got one of the nurses, who calmly came out and helped Chitter back inside to a dental chair.

Chatter still wasn't talking, only staring around like a newborn baby. While I was grabbing my stuff she looked at me and said "No separate."

I knew that meant she didn't want to leave Chitter. I said "Yes you're going to separate! Your Daddy is taking you home, you got to take care of yourself and there ain't no where for you to lay down in there anyway." 

Once Chitter was laid back in the dental chair and covered up with a blanket her pretty lips became pink again and her skin gained back its youthful glow. The nurse said Chitter's blood pressure dropped really low, which can make you dizzy, nauseous, and even cause you to pass out. The drop did all three to Chitter. Although rare, the drop in blood pressure can happen after anesthesia is administered during dental surgery. 

Chatter made the trip home without incident. We had a friend staying with us so The Deer Hunter was able to leave her at home and come back and get us.

On the second try Chitter made it home without a hitch.

Later I asked Chitter why she kept squeezing my knee in the car. She said "I knew I was going to pass out, I could feel myself fading away and I thought if I held onto you I'd be holding onto consciousness." I said "Ah that was why your expression scared me so bad. You were conveying that strong feeling of need directly from your eyes to mine." We sometimes tease each other about having spidy senses-you know like spider man. Chitter's face alerted every motherly spidy sense in my body. 

The girls having their wisdom teeth surgically removed made me feel faintified. Actually I still feel fainty about the whole thing.


p.s. Shane from the Southern Seed Legacy Project said Owl Produce Market on Asheville Highway in Canton, NC has local June Apples right now if folks are looking for them. He also said it's a great place to find out about lots of old family history and many heirloom tomatoes and beans.

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Tooth Pullers

Pap School Pic

Jerry Marshall Wilson - Pap


tooth drawers, tooth pullers noun A pair of pliers, often used to extract an aching tooth.
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 34 He also owned the only "tooth pullers" in the settlement; a pair of universal forceps that he designed, forged, fired out, and wielded with barbaric grit. 1982 Slone How We Talked 104 Tooth pullers or tooth drawers. A kind of pliers made in the blacksmith shop. Mountain people endured a lot of pain, and had to. Each community had someone who owned a pair of tooth-pullers. I remember my father had some and kept them in the drawers of the sewing machine. Every few weeks someone would come with an aching tooth. Father would sit him down in a straight back chair, give him a good "swig"of whiskey, take one himself, and pull the tooth. The patient would wash out with another mouthful of moonshine, and they both went back to work. 1994-97 Montgomery Coll. tooth drawers I sent the daughter to borrow Frank's tooth drawers (Cardwell); tooth pullers (Adams, Brown, Cardwell, Jones, Norris, Weaver).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


When Pap was about 13 years old he had horrible toothache, the kind that keeps you up at night. One morning just after dawn he decided he couldn't lay in that bed one more minute and suffer. He quietly slipped out of the house and headed over the mountain to see his Grandpa and Grandma who lived in Pine Log. As he reached their house the sun was coming up. 

Pap's Grandpa said the only way to fix the tooth was to pull it. He got a pair of pliers and tried to pull Pap's tooth. Pap said the tooth just wouldn't budge, but the pain was so bad he couldn't stand it and wanted that tooth out in the worst way.

His grandparents had an old sliver of mirror hanging outside where you could see to shave or comb your hair. Grandpa was afraid he'd hurt Pap if he pulled anymore so Pap decided he'd pull it himself. While looking in the mirror, he got the pliers around the tooth. Pap pulled as hard as he could for as long as could, which wasn't all that long because he passed out cold from the pain.

Pap's Grandpa and Grandma decided they didn't care what it took they were going to get this boy to the dentist-and they did. The dentist pulled the tooth and that ended Pap's horrible toothache. 


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onliest adjective Only.
1931 Goodrich Mt Homespun 63 She's the onliest one I ever did know that could do such as that. 1962 Dykeman Tall Woman 70 If the bullet had strayed a little closer, I might have lost the onliest heart I've got! 1974 Fink Bits Mt Speech 18 Hit's the onliest knife I've got n.d. Mtneer Talk = only one. "He's my onliest son." 1994 Montgomery Coll. She treated it as if it was the onlist one she had (Cardewell). 

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I still hear the word onliest on a regular basis in my part of Appalachia. Sometimes I hear it come right out of my mouth when I say things like:

"When I came by the ball field he was the onliest little boy out there. I reckon they changed the day and he didn't know." 


"That was my onliest pair of flip-flops!! I can't believe you left them at the lake."


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Cornfield Beans

Cornfield beans in appalachia

Cornfield beans

Cornfield bean noun A running green bean planted next to a corn plant so that it will climb the cornstalk as it grows.
1968 DARE = a type of bean that is eaten in the pod before being dried. (Brasstown NC) 1973 GSMNP – 57:84 I’ve knowed the time when we’d have fifteen or twenty bushel of beans, cornfield beans piled up. 1976 Thompson Touching Home 13 = bean that runs up a corn stalk. 1982 Powers and Hannah Cataloochee 199 There was always a pot of cornfield beans with bacon cooking on the stove when the children came in. 1986 Pederson et al. LAGS 11 of 32 (34%) of LAGS speakers using term were from E Tenn. 1995 Montgomery Coll. (Cardwell). 1997 Nelson Country Folklore 118 Cornfield beans had been planted in the cornfield because corn stalks served as a pole for the beans to climb on. In August, the cornfield beans were ready to be picked, and we children helped.

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Granny loves cornfield beans and tries to grow some every year. We didn't plant any corn at her house this year, so we planted her cornfield beans in rows with string for them to grow on.

Granny said cornfield beans make a big ole bean. A greenbean substantial enough to make an entire meal out of. She gets her cornfield beans from farmer Tim down the road. His seed has been handed down in his family for generations. I wonder, if the 1968 reference above is from his family. Actually I bet it is. And I guess I can add my own information to the definition:

2016 Brasstown NC Wilson = a cornfield bean doesn’t always have to grow among the corn but it usually does; the bean is much larger than a white half runner and seems more filling when cooked.


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Dusky Dark

Dusky Dark in Appalachia

dusky dark noun The times of day when, and shortly after, the sun goes down; partial darkness, in contrast to complete darkness (called black dark).
1939 Hall Coll. Hazel Creek NC It was just about dusky dark. It was snowin' like water pourin' out of a bucket. (Zeb Crisp) 1941 Justus Kettle Creek 122 "Of course," agreed Aunt Emmy, "you must get home before dusky dark lest your folks worry over you." 1986 Ogle Lucinda 61 I was sitting on top the rail fence, and it was getting dusky dark when I saw something moving toward us out of the Rhododendron thicket. 

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I've always thought dusky dark was the most lonesome part of the day. The portion of time seems lost between the busyness of daylight and the restfulness of black dark night.


p.s. Up coming performances for The Pressley Girls 

  • July 10,  2016 @ 2:00 p.m. Festival on the Square Hayesville NC

  • August 5, 2016 @ 7:00 p.m. Union County Historical Court House Blairsville, GA

  • August 26, 2016 @ 6:00 p.m. Crane Creek Vineyards Young Harris, GA

  • September 3, 2016 @ 8:00 p.m. Vogel State Park Blairsville, GA

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Using the word ALL in Appalachia

The use of the word All in Appalachia

In Appalachia we use the word all in...well in all sorts of ways!

  • We often add the word all to pronouns: "I don't know who all will be there, but I'm going down to that meeting they're having." or "After the food was eat they all got up and left out of there pretty quick like."
  • We use all the for only: "That's all the one I seen in the shed. Somebody must have took the others and never brought them back."
  • We use the phrase, all fired to describe a state of anger or high emotion: "It made me so all fired mad I may never step through the door of that place again!"
  • We use all with the word how: "I don't remember all how she made them, but Momma's tomato pickles were the best you ever ate."
  • We use all's in place of all that: "All's I know is I did what she told me to do. And if that ain't good enough then I don't know what else a body could do."

The grammar usages above are all very common in my area of Appalachia-and in my household. When I'm writing there are 2 words that I use way too often and one of them is all. I feel the need to put all in at least every other sentence.


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Course the Bees

Papaw Wade Earl Wilson

Papaw Wade blowing his fox horn

course verb To trace or follow (esp bees to their hive).
1926 Hunnicutt Twenty Years 73 I told him I was going to course the bees. 1950 Woody Cataloochee Homecoming 13 He could "course" a bee with an unerring eye, and he seldom got a sting. 1976 Carroll and Pulley Little Cataloochee 18 He was an expert in searching out bee trees and had the ability to course bees into hives for the purpose of producing honey. 

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I’ve always wanted bees. When I first started wishing for them several years ago, Pap told me keeping bees was a lot of work. He knew because when he was a boy he had to help his father, my Papaw Wade, with his bees.

Back in those days most folks didn’t order their bees like they do today, instead they found the bees in the wild and managed to capture them. Sometimes the bees were in a swarm and they were easy to capture, other times the coursing method described in the definition above was used.

You can read about some of the items that were used as bee gums or hives in those days on this website. Pap said Papaw Wade used a hollow log for his bee gum. 

One time I was talking about bees when we were down at Pap’s big garden. Pap said “If you really want bees you can find your own.” I said “How in the world would I do that?” Pap went on to explain how Papaw Wade would wait by a stream of water, usually a creek. As he sat patiently he kept his eyes open for honey bees that were visiting the water source. Once he saw a bee he began following it back to where it came from, hopefully to it’s hive.

I said “That sounds impossible.” Pap said “Well it does but if that’s the only hope you had of getting bees and you knew it would work and you were determined then it is possible.”
Still disbelieving the possibility of coursing bees, I said “But how in the world would you follow them?”

Pap said sometimes his father would carry a bucket of water into the woods where he last saw the bee and sit patiently until the bees found his temporary source of water and begin coursing the bee from that point. By continuing to move the water he came closer and closer until he eventually found the hive. 

Even after hearing of Papaw Wade’s bee coursing experiences I still found the process hard to believe. Pap understood my skepticism by saying “You’re right it’s a mighty hard job to do and not a job that can be done quickly. You have to have patience a plenty. Patience, good eyesight, and quick reflexes. Why the only one of us that could even attempt it now would be Mark.”

My nephew Mark was still in high school when Pap and I had that conversation. Mark graduated from Yale in May-not bad for a boy who grew up in a holler in Appalachia.

I still wish I had bees or at least the determination to try and course them myself.


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Breakfast - Dinner - Supper

Pinto beans

dinner noun The midday meal, traditionally the main one of the day.
1924 Spring Lydia Whaley 1 Pap let the county build a school house free on his land which was nigh enuf for 'em to go home to dinner. And he was "powerful to send us to school." 1940 Oakley Roamin'/Restin' 128 Its dinner in the mountains at 12 noon and supper at night. 1959 Pearsall Little Smoky 91 "Let's get us some dinner" may be said any time from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. 1972 Cooper NC Mt Folklore 159 I want to go back where they eat three meals a day-breakfast, dinner and supper, where the word lunch will never be heard again. 1996 Houk Foods & Recipes 7 Before noon, women headed home to fix "dinner," the main meal of the day, consisting of hot cornbread, beans, pork in some form, and possibly a dessert. Duly fortified, they went back out to the cornfield for the afternoon. What appeared on the table for supper often closely resembled what was left over from dinner.

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Half of the T knob on Granny's well faucet has been broke off for a good long while. Pap didn't have any trouble turning the water on, but Granny said it hurt her hand when she tried to turn the lopsided knob when she watered the garden. 

We bought a replacement piece a couple weeks ago and yesterday morning The Deer Hunter decided it was time to take care of the knob.

As often happens with small jobs, the knob replacement turned into a more complicated project after The Deer Hunter accidentally broke the pipe going into the well while trying to loosen the knob that had been on there since the well was drilled in the 80s. 

Between our house, Paul's house, and Pap's basement we scrounged up enough plumbing fittings for The Deer Hunter to re-plumb the well top. By the time we finished Granny had made a pot of spaghetti and said we might as well stay for dinner so we did.  


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Appalachian Vocabulary Test 89

Holding on to the Appalachian Language

It's time for this month's Appalachian Vocabulary Test. One of this month's words is more of a phrase.

I'm sharing a few videos in this test to let you hear some of the words too. To start the videos, click on them and then to stop them click on them again. 

Take it and see how you do!


A video posted by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on

1. Cull: rejected. "She's been courting him for a few weeks but after that shine he pitched at the dance I'd say she'll cull him now."


A video posted by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on

2. Corruption: pus from a sore, a wound that is infected. "That cut has got corruption in it and you better get it out before your arm rots off. I told you, you should have went to the doctor."


A video posted by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on

3. Contrary: stubborn, ill, cantankerous. "If she don't get enough sleep she's so contrary you can't stand to be in the same house with her."


A video posted by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on

4. Well as common: as usual or beyond usual. "When someone asked Pap how he was doing he would often say as well as common. I know his grandmother Carrie said it too because I read a letter she sent to my Aunt Hazel and she said the family was as well as common."

5. Cloud burst: a sudden heavy rain. "There must have been a real cloud burst up on the mountain. You never saw the like of water that came down the creek a little while ago."

All of this month's words except the well as common saying are fairly common in my area of Appalachia, how about where you live?


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