A large storm passed through Northern California this week, the weather folks called it the “Pineapple Express”, instead of pineapples though, it dumped lots of water, and caused localized flooding. Sitting up on the higher side of town I could only watch and worry as other areas were inundated with fast moving water. Reading an account in the Red Bluff Daily News of one man’s struggle with the flood I smiled when he was quoted as saying, “It was a 2 cup coffee kind of day”. What a quaint saying I said to my mother later and she told me a story about her grandmother, Anna Mary Sisley born in 1878 in Iowa and died in 1966 in Montana.
It seems that whenever Anna Mary served soup or stew she would announce, “Puppy’s at the bottom”! What did that mean? I learned it was in reference to her time spent living in the Dakota’s near the Sioux Indians. A Native American phrase? Further questions led me to the answer. “Puppy’s at the bottom” refers to the fact that the yummy, tasty, tender meat of the stew is at the bottom of the bowl or pot. Not that I’m condoning the eating of puppies, but I think I might have to make that one of my catch phrases now. I will enjoy watching my family’s faces as I serve Christmas dinner while proudly announcing, “Puppy’s at the bottom”.
Another saying we have in our family is, “The fruit man is here”, always said in a happy, excitable voice. This is something my grandmother, Katherine Beck Jankus born in 1915 in Baylor, Valley County, Montana and died in 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada, would announce loudly to anyone in hearing distance whenever she learned the Fruit Man was in town. What is a Fruit Man? Similar to what we know as a peddler, this was someone who traveled from town to town selling his wares, in this case, fruit. Glasgow is in Valley County in North Eastern Montana and before the advent of modern conveniences people there had to wait for the yearly arrival of the Fruit Man to buy that fruit they were unable to grow themselves.
Are there sayings that are unique to your family, something that holds special meaning? Have you shared those stories with your children and grandchildren? The next time your family gathers together share with them the stories behind those everyday phrases. Or just surprise them by announcing, “Puppy’s at the bottom”!