A Clampett full of catchy phrases


Hiding a video cassette behind his back, Mark gathered the family for a Saturday night’s oriental take-out.

“Can we watch something while we eat?” is often the question. We let Dad decide whether he allows television (or a tape) or table talk because he’s not always home to eat with the rest of us. He usually agrees to some of each if we put the talking first and then watch something that we all agree on.

What tape did Mark have that he was keeping a secret? We served our plates with fried rice, lo mein, and sweet and sour chicken. Our girls eat the chicken without the sauce so they’re like chicken nuggets with batter coating. I poured Chinese Restaurant Tea from the bargain Fiesta ware teapot that I found last fall at our church rummage sale.

Too anxious to wait for any talk time, Mark put his tape in the player, sat down, asked if we were ready and, in a few flashes, Mac Davis, the singer/songwriter was introducing “The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies.”

It is a 30 year anniversary tribute to the television show. Seeing it reminded me how entertaining the nine-year series had been.

Handsome, naive Jethro was able to pick up feisty, stubborn little Granny like a sack of flour and carry her off, kicking-mad, shouting, “Put me down, boy!”

Lovely Ellie May was a knockout descending the stairs of the mansion in a formal gown, but she was always more at home with her critters being a tomboy and answering to her pa for her mischief.

“Pa”, Jed Clampett, was the thinker for the family. In spite of his sheltered ignorance of life outside his home in the hills, he had the steady, common-sense wisdom we all wish we had more of. His outlook on life was usually the real message of the show.

And the video had a segment of Jed’s mountain metaphors that I enjoyed so much, I have to note them for you. According to Jethro, “Uncle Jed could really turn a phrase!”

“Weeeell, doggies!” Jed would say, “that’s …”

      “just a couple a wagon races up the road.” or

      “a drop in a rusty bucket down my well.” or

      “thicker than crows in a corn patch”

      “{he’s} – lower than a hog’s chin on market day”

      “green enough to stick in the ground and grow.”

      “such a liar that he used to have to get somebody else to call his dog for him.”

      “happy as a gopher in soft dirt.”

      “showin’ more colors than a red rooster in a pumpkin’ patch.”

      “tighter than a high string on a two dollar fiddle.”

      “so lazy he has to lean up against somethin’ to buck.”

When Miss Jane questions one of Granny’s recipes, Jed explains mountain measurements.

“A smidgen is just a teeeenie, little bit…

      3 smidgens make one pinch

      4 pinches equals one little bit

      4 little bits equal one midlin’ amount

      3 midlin’ amounts equal one right smart and it takes 5 right smarts to make a whole heap.”

Granny says her grandpa had another sayin’, “Old violins make the sweeetest music … course ya have to have the the right beau.”

      – from “The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies,” 1993, CBS/Fox videos


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