We post a new episode of Appalachian History weekly podcast every Sunday. Check us out on the Stitcher network, available on mobile phones, in-car dashboards and tablets worldwide. Just click below to start listening:
We open today’s show a look at the origins of the phrase ‘Ollie, Ollie, in come free’. This was the call from the person who was ‘It’ letting those hiding children (the ‘Outs’) know it was safe to come back to base in the children’s game of hide-and-seek. The phrase has a more varied history than you might imagine.
We’ll pause in between things to catch up on a Calendar of Events in the region this week, with special attention paid to events that emphasize heritage and local color.
Next we offer up an excerpt from guest author Michael Abraham, whose historical novel War, WV has just released. “Nobody ever comes to the hollows of West Virginia by accident,” says Pug Graham, the book’s protagonist. “Everybody has a reason. Mostly they come home, because so many have left. Others come from curiosity, the burning desire to see and experience the poverty, the inexorable crawl of natural reclamation, the deterioration of manmade structures and of the souls of the people themselves.”
The Anglo-American Telegraphic Code, a shorthand phrasebook for telegraphers, was published in 1891. It helped telegraphers avoid repetitive motion disorder by spending less time sitting at the key, but it also helped them send faster, which meant they earned more money, since telegraphers were generally paid by the word. Usually the phrases were fairly straightforward, but we can imagine the book’s authors having their fun as they worked away on their manuscript; the code “boastful,” for example, stands for the “Western Maryland” railroad.
We’ll wrap things up with R.M. Edward’s look back at the Roane County, TN of his youth, in the 1830s. He warns his readers in this 1893 memoir “never to indulge the habit of tickling a child, for no one can forsee the injury that may result. I feared [my schoolmate] Hezekish as I would a bear, and hated him more intensely than any man I ever saw. All this originated from his insane desire to tickle me to death, in which he often came near succeeding. He would tickle me till my breath would be gone and I would think my time had come and I should surely die.”
And, thanks to the good folks at Rounder Records (The North Carolina Banjo Collection, Rounder CD0439/40), we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Worley Hash in a 1976 recording of Pearly Blue.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.