Laughter: The Universal Language – #76

Heavens to Murgatroyd! Smiles of recognition at these lost words and phrases of yesteryear, guaranteed.

Snagglepuss (cc) photo by Fred Seibert

Would you believe the spellchecker did not recognize the word Murgatroyd? Do you remember that word? (Actually, it’s a name!)

Lost words from our childhood: words gone as fast as the buggy whip!

The other day a not-so-elderly (I’ll say 75) lady said something to her grandson about driving a jalopy. He looked at her quizzically and said, “What the heck is a ‘jalopy’?” He’d never heard of the word! She knew she was old… but not that old!

Well, I hope you feel hunky dory after you read this.

About a month ago, I wrote down some old expressions that have become
obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology. The phrases
included Don’t touch that dial, carbon copy (cc), You sound like a broken
record, and hung out to dry.

Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie. We’d put on our best bib and
tucker to straighten up and fly right.

Heavens to Betsy! Gee willikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy moley! We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China!

Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when’s the last time anything was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and  the D.A.; of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers and Saddle Stitched Pants.

Oh, my aching back! Kilroy was here, but he isn’t anymore.

We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! or This is a fine kettle of fish! we discover that the words we grew up with have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Long gone: Pshaw, The milkman did it. Hey! It’s your nickel. Don’t forget to pull the chain. Knee high to a grasshopper. Well, Fiddlesticks! Going like sixty. I’ll see you in the funny papers. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Wake up and smell the roses.

It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills.

We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changeable times. For a child, each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We at the other end of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist, and there were words that once strutted upon the earthly stage but now are heard no more, except in our collective memory.

It’s one of the greatest advantages of aging. Leaves us to wonder where Superman will find a phone booth.

See ya later, alligator! Okey-dokey?

[Thanks to my friend Jennifer Shugar for sending me this piece (and many other jokes I’ve shared with you here)!]

14 thoughts on “Laughter: The Universal Language – #76

  1. I enjoyed these Ellie and I think I’ve heard them all, used my share of them, and my parents peppered their speech with them. Believe it or not I sent an e-mail to a friend today that used the expression “more nerve than Carter has liver pills” and I said “if you remember that expression.” She should, she is only six months younger than me. The art of colorful conversations and idioms is lost to text abbreviations and acronyms – ugh. If I’ve never mentioned it before, my boss collects oddball expressions and is also a wordsmith. He collects words on flashcards and memorizes them to use in writing or conversation. Every so often he finds a word he likes and overuses it … recent acquisitions are “kerfuffle” and “befuddled” … and of course there was the expression “I scorn _______” which I shared with you one day. A client used the expression “built like a sackful of cougars” to describe a woman one time – I visibly cringed when he said it; no, I wasn’t jealous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One big thing my bf and I have in common is a love of language, and respect for its proper usage. It’s a pleasure to meet some other fellow wordsmiths via social media, such as yourself. Here’s to English, and here’s to all of us who use it well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I mentioned to you that Robb and his two brothers had to memorize one entire page of the “Oxford English Dictionary” each day. Their father had the complete set at home and he would quiz them on the words for that page when he got home from work. They were very intimidated by their father, so were diligent about improving their vocabulary to risk reprimand from him. Robb used to order various flash cards to learn words and phrases from an online catalog by the name of Bas Bleu. They had some unique learning tools and gifts there.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Personally, I am horrified at such a “teaching style”… and consider it borderline abusive, since it got to the point of the kids being intimidated by him, as you said. No. I believe in positive reinforcement. This isn’t it.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. No, it was not good. Robb has often mentioned to me that neither he nor his brothers cared for their father. He was a disciplinarian and was an attorney with his own office, later a part-time judge. He left early in the morning, came home for dinner, quizzed the boys on their words, then went back to the office until 8:00 p.m., came back home without a word to anyone. He would just select words at random for each page that the boys had to memorize and that was the only thing he did as to their education. He left their upbringing to the mother, who indulged them more, spending time with them, taking them places and going to sports events they participated in. He gave them no allowance (she did give a little on the side to them) and the father did not help put them through school.


  2. Oh dear I remember all of those. I even remember how “Heavens to Murgatroyd” was said each time. Poor old Superman, now with all the mobile phones. Perhaps he “borrows” Samantha’s nose to change his clothes!

    Liked by 1 person

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