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|Bags or Sacks
"Do you like cafeterias?" I asked.
"Don't know," he answered, "I've never played them."
"What religion do you follow?" another man asked me.
In a mining camp they told me to take such and such a "trail."
The point is, that we did not talk that way where I came from. Of course, I hasten to say, we doubtless talked some other way just as peculiar. And if I could detect our colloquialisms I would write a lot about them but alas I can't. I was in the West two years before I noticed that a "trolley" is a "street car."
A woman in a mining camp said to the stage driver, "I want out at the bank because I don't want to pack this sack of silver." In the first place we wouldn't have had a sack of silver and if we had, it would have been in a "bag" not a "sack," and we never "pack" things and we never "want out."
In the East we never refer to our locality as "this country," as in the West and South. We do not take the name of our state either as "Californian" or "Kentuckian." One never hears of a "Connecticutian" or a "Massachusettisian." I do not profess to give any reasons for these peculiarities.
In the West, speech is more brief. "Autos go slow" is the warning while on the Fenway in Boston the signs read - "Motor Vehicles, Proceed Slowly." I wouldn't swear to the comma but the words are identical.
There is a small to near Provincetown where a sign reads - "Friends, we wish to think well of you and we wish you to think well of us. Kindly observe the ten mile motor limit." After that the roads are so bad that one couldn't possibly exceed ten miles if he tried. Probably the longest sign in California is that one which reads - "Drive your fool heads off."
"Booze-fighters" are Western. Oh, they're Eastern too, but under a different name. It's a misleading term, that. As though one were fighting against booze like an anti-salooner. I actually know of a woman who came West and thought for or a long time that a "booze-fighter" was a "Dry." In the East he is a "rummy" and when he's drunk he's "tight."
"It's a fright," is Western. "Ornery," is middle-Western. That's a wonderful word. Sometimes, I wish I could live my life over with "ornery" in my vocabulary. It describes so many people I never knew just how to classify.
There are no "T" bones in the East. And scrambled brains are not common. Oh, of course, we have them but not as something to eat. Personally, I was brought up to reverence brains and when I see them lying pale and messy on a plate in a Greek restaurant, I confess it gives me a start.
Hot tamales have never crossed the plains East. And baked beans have never come West - not real ones. The difference between the Eastern baked bean and the Western is all the difference between a tin can and a religious rite and it is the same with succotash. A cruller is only a fried doughnut when it gets out West. Tea is more subtle in the East, but out here the waitress will ask "Black or green" in a black or white tone and stands over you until you decide. Maybe you don't want black tea, maybe you don't want green, but just "tea," but there she stands in her unequivocation - "Black or green?"
Silver money has never traveled East. A man told me recently that he didn't like silver money when he first came out here and that it was always wearing his pockets out but since he'd gotten into Western ways it never wore a hole in his pockets any more. In the East a change purse is scorned by anything masculine, but here all the men carry one, I don't know why not in the East, nor why in the West. Blessed old "two-bits" and a "dollar six-bits" are the only woolly things left over from the old wild West.
What else - oh, I could keep on for pages. "Stay with it" is Western and has lots more feeling I think than "stick to it." A Westerner when his wife and babies were going back East to visit her relatives, telegraphed to her brother - "Elizabeth and outfit arrive Tuesday." And until she arrived the brother spent his time in conjecturing as to just what an "outfit" would mean. Rhubarb plant is "rhubarb" in the East and also "pie plant," and one day I was in a fruit store and when the man - he was a Greek - yelled "Wha else?" I could only think of "pie plant" and so I didn't get any.
It's all the way you are "brought up," Eastern, and all the way you are "raised," Western.