Teacher’s and Parents Pet Phrases

During my educational years I’ve been privy to several teachers and what I call their “Pet Phrases.” So if you went to school with me you’ll remember these too perhaps. If you didn’t,  maybe this will remind you of some sayings your teachers used.  This is not meant in a derogatory light. It’s meant for amusement and the nostalgic value.

The first teacher that comes to mind is a gal named Mrs. Klussemann. I don’t know if I spelled her name right to or not. It looks Jewish-German to me. Just my opinion here, but she had one phrase that has always stuck with me. She would ask the entire class a question on a problem she would poise. If  no one raised their hand or spoke up (which was common) she would without fail say “Well we’re all as sharp as basketballs today.” Yes heir Klussemann we are.  Be that as it may I kinda liked Mrs. Klussemann. If she knew you were trying she would go out of her way to make you understand whatever it was she was trying to put acrossed.

My eighth grade teacher Mr. Warner had a pet phrase that was not sarcastic but always grabbed my attention when he used it. “As if by magic.” He’d say these words to set off a sentence about something scientific. Mr. Warner was a great science teacher.

In high school I had a history teacher named Mr. Glenn. He spoke in a mono tone and he almost put me to sleep every day trying to listen to him. He said the same thing every day when he’d walk in the door. “Alright class open your books, sit down Dave.”  meaning for me to sit down. I was always walking around in class, so it became part of his daily address to our period class. “As you know we’re moving on.”  I got pretty good at imitating him. Enough to get a laugh out of Vicki Grandquist, my life long buddy.

 Mr. Wagner taught electronics.  Myself and my side kick Dave Fanning used to get kicked out of his class almost every day. Bob Sundstrom did too. Actually it was the three musketeers of Mr. Wagner’s electronics class. So he’d tell us almost daily, “Proffitt and Fanning get out!”    “go to the office right now!”  

This takes care of all the teachers I can remember. Now my parents had a virtual vernacular of phrases and sayings!  My Dad had the most, followed by Momsy, and my Uncle John and my Aunt Wilda.  Maybe I should list them by who said them?

Hugh Proffitt (Dad).  Dad was always harping at me not to hot rod any of his cars. I guess he thought I”d blow them up. In actuality he blew them up and not me!

Here we’d go on a Saturday night when I was going take out the Dodge.  “Don’t ram the Dodge Dave, she won’t take ‘er.”    “If I find out you be rammin the car I’ll jerk the keys.”   Sometimes I’d get this pep talk about why I shouldn’t  “ram the Dodge.” It was complete with Dad’s visual aids. He’d hold up both hands with all of his fingers spread out and bump the ends of his fingers on each hand to the tips of the other ones. “ya see son, when you ram the gears they do this!”   And he’d bang his fingers into each other, like I wasn’t smart enough to figure out for myself how abused transmissions and missed shifts resulted in a transmission going south. If he wasn’t talking about cars then it was me being smart-ass to Momsy.  “You better button yer lip son.”   or “you’ll be laughing out of the other side of your mouth.”  “I’ll box both of your ears!”  “Wipe that smile off yer face!”    I also got lots of lectures on the great depression and what happened when he was a kid.  He was also the king of mispronunciation!  Some words would just flat trip Dad up. Confiscate was the worst offender. Hugh’s version of it was  confisticate. Con-fist-ti-cate.  Vinyl was Vin-ul.  Bison wis Biss-on.   He used to be a paper boy when he was a kid, and he delivered papers for the Enterprise Courier. When I worked for them Dad would always revert back to the paper’s name when he was a kid. So when he was having a conversation with one some of my parents friends and they asked him if I was working Dad would always tell them “Oh yeah Dave works for the Banner Courier, or  The Courier Enterprise.”  I always corrected him. I dont’ think he liked it but he was a cool guy about it. When he was talking about one of the other kids around town he always stuck on the qualifying adjective “young.”  So if he was talking about Butch Hickman or Dennis McFall it was always “young Hickman, or young McFall.”  

Momsy had her share of phrases too. Most of them cautionary I think. I heard most of these when she was haranguing Dad about something. “Well for Pete’s sake Hubert!”

“I suppose you won that rifle at a Mill Pool then?”  Poor Dad had to invent things to tell Mary whenever he wanted to buy himself something which was hardly ever. So he used to tell her that he won it in a pool the guys in the mill had. I remember thinking that Dad was the luckiest guy I ever knew. LOL!   He used to give Momsy the check and she’d manage to make ends meet with it. When Dad would try to talk to her about buying something for himself that just NEVER flew. He’s get a lecture on why we couldn’t afford it. His standard reply after that was always “Oh for Christ sakes Mary!”

My Uncle John used to come to dinner, bring us tons of firewood, Christmas trees and all sorts of stuff like that. He was a good-hearted guy, an old lumberjack from way back. Going hunting with John was like trying to stay up with a mountain goat. Impossible.  John didn’t know squat about cars and most mechanical stuff but he could build things out of wood pretty good. He came over one time when I was pulling the engine on my 56 Chev.  His reply to me upon seeing the new motor was “I see your puttin in one of them high-speed moeders.”  I used phonetic spelling on motor because that’s the way he said it. Motor-“moeder.”    John had a brother named Charles. Charles was also a logger and got killed in a logging accident. He was married to this woman no one in the family liked. Her name was Wilda. She wasn’t liked because she spent his money faster than a subatomic particle decays!  She was always overweight and gave new definition to the word “bossy.”  When Charles was alive they would come over to dinner sometimes with brother John and my cousins. This made a total of four kids in the house tearing around and playing with each other. This was always a signal for Wilda to go into “boss the kids around mode.”  That didn’t fly with Lois and I worth a damn. She used to hang out with John and Avis a lot so my cousin Dolly and Sharon were used to her crap but not Lois and I. So we just basically ignored her. When she’d try to get physical with us either Dad or Momsy would put a stop to it graciously. Wilda always loved to eat. I remember one day  at a big family dinner Wilda was in “hog mode”.  My aunt Avis ( a real beauty of a woman and nice too) asked Dad, “Hugh what can I get you?”  To which Dad replied “I believe I’d like some more peas.”  Before anyone else could speak up, my cousin Sharon spoke up quickly saying “There ain’t no more peas, Wilda ate ’em all!”  It so surprised everyone that we just sat there and stared at Wilda. Her reply was, “Well ya gotta fill up on somethin!”  Amen Wilda. Fill up on anything.

Speaking of Wilda, reminds me one time when her and Uncle Charles were at our house for dinner. Wilda used to make herself right at home which included taking her shoes off first thing after walking thru the door.  Wilda’s shoes were something that should have been handled with those robotic arms that handle radioactive material.  My Sister had a ornery side to  her which I just loved because we’d alway laugh ourselves sick when she’d get one of her ideas.  We left the table after dinner and Wilda and the rest of the adult crew stayed there drinking Momsy’s rocket fuel 125 octane coffee. She’d get Wilda so wired on coffee she couldn’t sit still and would start scratching her face and fidgeting!  We went into the living room and Lois saw Wilda’s shoes lying under the coffee table.  I had given the Dog some asparagus sprouts because I hated them then. Well the Dog didn’t think much of them either I guess. He spit out  a couple of sprigs next to Wilda’s shoes.  Lois said to me “hey Kid, let’s put those in Wilda’s shoes!” So I scooped up one and Lois got the other one.  We dropped them into Wilda’s clod hoppers.   Wilda was a smoker. Hell everyone in the house smoked except Charles and Lois and I. Wilda made the announcement that she had to go outside to the car and get her smokes. So she came staggering into the living room while Lois and I watched TV and took side-long looks at Wilda while she put her shoes on.  Much to our amazement she never much noticed there were two dead asparagus sprigs in both of her shoes!  Well she went out to the car and came back in. By now the rest of the entourage was in the living room smoking and drinking Momsy’s rocket fuel.  Wilda plopped her size 15 butt down on the couch and took off her shoes. One of the smashed asparagus sprigs was hanging off the bottom of her stocking.  She was totally unaware of it too.  My Uncle Charles spoke up “Wilda you got somethin on yer foot!”  She put her hand down on her toes and pulled off this smashed- to -shit asparagus sprig! “What in the world?”  My Sister and I couldn’t take it so we hauled ass out of the living room and into the bedroom. Lois laughed so hard she peed her pants! 

In about 15 minutes Dad came into the bedroom. “I don’t suppose you two know how asparagus got into Wilda’s shoes do ya?”  Oh no Dad.

A note worth passing on. My aunt Avis was a very special woman. She had this fiery orange hair. A great figure, sparkling blue eyes and beautiful smile. She was the kind of woman who would just take your breath away when you looked at her. A very gentle soul, soft-spoken, flashing eyes. She got multiple sclerosis and died an untimely death. I really miss her even today.  She is buried up in a little pioneer cemetery in the tiny community of Elwood.  I go up there to pay my respects to her and the rest of the family that’s buried up there. It’s like stepping back in time.


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