I only heard my dad cuss a few times, and only one expression, and only when referring to one specific thought. He would lean in close, point his middle finger (that’s the finger he always pointed with) and speak almost under his breath but still loudly, “Caroline, my parents were so god damn cheap with half a penny, I hated it.”. I knew he hated it. Before I even knew what it meant, i knew he hated it and I knew there was more to it than just not having money. My dad told me many stories about how the Great Depression affected his parents, their beliefs, their actions and his life. And while the stories could fill a novel, and him choosing to cuss only when talking about this gave the stories greater impact, I was always struck by his reference to “half a penny”. I don’t really think of my dad as corny or even comical, but when I think of all of the sayings he used over the years, I think he just might have been. So, in his honor, I am going to give you a few of his gems;
“Have you checked the refrigerator”
Every female descendent of Marcos Sanchez Rodarte (b; 1893) loses her keys on a regular basis. Every one of us. My dad, who I am certain never misplaced a single object in his life, was surrounded by 4 such women. He didn’t understand it, he was almost fascinated by it, by the whole production of us looking for our keys on an almost daily basis. And while he could have taken the more common stance and tell us, “if you would put them in the same place every day this wouldn’t happen”, he didn’t. I think he enjoyed what he saw as the femaleness of it all, of us scrambling around him, frantic. He was amused. So, all he would say to us was “have you checked the refrigerator?”. We would react with eye-rolling, groans, yelling, laughter, it all depended on the kind of day the girl or woman looking for her keys was having.
“Like reading Flying High by Walter Pigeon”
Walter Pidgeon was an actor who never wrote a book so I have no idea where this one came from. Whenever you tried to explain to my dad something he considered obvious he would say this. This meant you didn’t have to explain it any further, he didn’t want you to, he didn’t want to speak further about the obvious. Oddly enough, this saying always immediately stopped me from continuing any conversation we were having.
“The only thing you can keep in the dark and feed manure is mushrooms”
I disliked this one. It was a long-winded and unnecessary way to tell someone you knew they were lying to you. I didn’t think it was clever, I thought it was ineffective for the point he was making. Silly. Dumb. Why compare yourself to fungi. He despised being lied to, he was deeply insulted and offended by lies. He also saw me and my 3 siblings through our teen years so he heard a few. He took each one personally, even the smallest of fibs. I think I can recall every lie I ever told my dad, large and small, mostly obvious, mostly for immature reasons. They hurt to tell. Maybe that’s really why I don’t like the saying.
“This is a JJR production”
When James Joseph Reynolds was proud of something he had a hand in, this is what he would say. Always with a big smile, always with satisfaction. Completely corny, I loved it. I loved it because I could tell how he felt when he said it. My dad was a grateful man, surprised by how good his life was, he said he was lucky, blessed, content. He let this one loose on several occasions, all memorable, all happy. My mom and sisters tell me that once he gathered himself after seeing me for the first time in the hospital, he turned to everyone and said just that, “This is a JJR production”
I miss him, corny sayings and all….