Howdy, Y’all!

I went to nine schools in the first three grades, and as a result, I was terribly shy; constantly being the new kid, can take a toll on a youngster. Finally, in June of 1960, we moved to Buckeye, Arizona, with the intent of staying put. My dad had worked the last three years as a lineman, building cross country high line distribution towers; as a result, we were constantly on the move. Then, he got a job as a lineman for Arizona Public Service, a local power company. Our moving days were done!

I started the fourth grade that September, and it was a wonderful feeling to know I was going to be going to school with the same kids for a whole year! I would look around at all the faces, and think about how I was going to get to know some of them and have a friend/or friends I wouldn’t have to say goodbye to. The only problem was they all talked kind of weird.

One day it dawned on me it wasn’t them that talked funny, it was me! I think it was the snickering and laughter I’d hear from my classmates when I said y’all that finally tipped me off. That and I started noticing when it was my turn to speak in class, all the kids would turn and watch me. At first I just thought they all liked me, and that was why they were smiling so big when I spoke.

One day one of the other boys came up to me—I wish I could remember who it was, because his words still ring loud and clear. “You need to quit talking like that,” he said.

I looked at him kind of like this: and said, “Talking like what?”

He shrugged and said, “Like a hillbilly, I guess. It just sounds funny.”

“Oh,” I said. “Okay.”

That was the sum total of the conversation, but it was all it took. I determined right then and there, I would lose the accent, and I did. It didn’t take long either; by the time fourth grade ended, I sounded just like all the other kids. I passed the advice on to my two brothers and my sister, too. I figured if they talked funny, everyone would know I was faking it.

When I moved back to Texas in 1989, it was amazing how quickly the accent returned. I had talked “normal” for twenty-nine years, and almost overnight I was saying howdy, fixin’ to, and y’all like I’d never been out of Texas.

When in Rome, I reckon….



  1. Waynette said

    I really think they are the ones who talked funny. What you said seems normal to me.

    • Waynette? Is your goal today to be my number one fan? Cause if it is, I like it!
      Thank you for all the wonderful comments!

  2. Sherry Mashburn said

    Texan IS normal!!!

  3. dswan2 said

    I remember standing before a roomful of college profs, psychologists and social workers and saying “crick” for creek among other locally flavored words. They didn’t mind and neither did I. I was just amazed that they wanted to hear what this hillbilly poet had to say!

  4. jennygoth said

    i think different accents are great and its part of who you are so its those kids that were stupid and one day when someone comments on teir accent they will see why its the person you get to know that counts xxjen

    • Oh, I don’t think they were stupid, Jenny. They were just kids. Most kids–me included–say and do some pretty cruel things. Many of those kids who thought my accent was funny and teased me are my good friends today, some fifty years later. At a recent reunion I was laughing about this very story with some of them.
      Thanks for sticking up for me, though! I appreciate that AND your great comment!

  5. jennygoth said

    hey marbles HOWDY xxjen

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