OMG: Heavens to Murgatroyd!

Published 9:34 am Tuesday, April 26, 2016

One part of growing older is finding yourself less in tune with today’s new wave of communicating.

I was drug, kicking and screaming by the way, into the world of texting. I really didn’t want to go to that place because I was scared to death over all the lingo associated with that form of communication. Why if I struck the wrong key when sending one of those popular Internet acronyms and instead of typing the shortcut for “in other words (IOW) I typed SOW. The latter is not a texting acronym. Would the receiver of my text think I was referencing their weight (as in as big as a SOW)?)

How I long for the days when we actually talked to each other face to face rather than texting. I wish we could go back to the time when there were cool words rather than OMG, LOL, BTW, and BFF.

My wish was answered in an email I received last week from a friend. He sent along a piece written by Richard Lederer, who started off by asking, would you recognize the word Murgatroyd?….as in Heavens to Murgatroyd!

Lederer went on to write about lost words from our childhood, those that left as fast as a buggy whip.

The other day, a not so elderly (age 65) lady said something to her son about driving a Jalopy and he looked at her quizzically and said what the heck is a Jalopy? OMG (new phrase!) – he had never heard of the word. She knew she was old but not that old.

Lederer wrote that he recently illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology. These phrases included “Don’t touch that dial,” “Carbon copy,” “You sound like a broken record” and “Hung out to dry.”

Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie. We’d put on our best bib and tucker to straighten up and fly right; Heavens to Betsy!

Gee whillikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy Moley! We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley and even a regular guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China!

Back in the olden days, life used to be swell but when’s the last time anything was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A, of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers.

Oh, my aching back. Kilroy was here, but he isn’t anymore.

We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap and before we can say, well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!/This is a fine kettle of fish! – we discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, go the words of our youth, the words we’ve left behind. We blink and they’re gone. Where are all those phrases like long gone daddy’o; Pshaw; the milkman did it; it’s your nickel; don’t forget to pull the chain; and knee high to a grasshopper.

Well, Fiddlesticks! I’ll see you in the funny papers. Don’t take any wooden nickels!

It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills.

This can be disturbing stuff! We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changeful times. For a child each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We, however, at the other end of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It’s one of the greatest advantages of aging.

See ya later, alligator!


Cal Bryant is the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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