The origin of words has always fascinated me. Once in Arkansas I passed by a town by the name of Toad Suck. Just had to pull in there and ask. The place didn’t have more than a few hundred people but it didn’t take me long to discover the origin of the name. During the mid 1800’s there was a saloon at a crossroads. A few houses sprung up and the townspeople gathered at the saloon to discuss forming a town and applying for a name. They were all sitting on the porch drinking moonshine when a cowboy rode up on a horse and asked for a drink. A heated debate was in full swing and nobody took his order. He sat on his horse for a while listening to the arguments for New London, Old Sweden, Caledonia, names of prestige and power. It turned out that all of the names were taken. In disgust the stranger hollered “If nobody is gonna sell me a drink I’m riding out of this no name town. You fellers can suck them bottles dry and turn into a toad for all I care.” The founding fathers looked in the book and discovered the name was not taken. The rest is a historic happening in the land of opportunity.

How about Hoedown? Legend has it that the original meaning had to do with fiddlers who worked in the cotton fields of the South. When the day’s work was done they put the hoe down and picked up the devil’s box for an evening of fiddling, dancing and drinking. On the other hand when the Pioneers went west and a wagon had a breakdown all the hard working, conscientious travelers pitched in to fix it. The fiddlers encouraged the rest with lively tunes which came to be known as breakdowns.

Johnny Gimble confirms that musicians are notorious for taking a nip and leaving behind memorable tales. There is a famous tune called Tico Tico No Fuba, which is blazing fast with lots of notes. When Johnny sat in on the first rehearsal he noticed that the guys drank beer constantly. He asked if they always drank like this and they assured him that they did, it was their tribute to a rich tradition. He asked “How do you know when you’re too drunk to play?” They told him that if they felt they were under the influence they all played Tico Tico and if it turned out real good, they had one more beer before going on stage.

I was sitting with Johnny, in an otherwise empty auditorium during a rehearsal. We were waiting our turn to participate but we had to go through orientation first. The MC announced firmly that everyone must turn off their cell phones now. I pulled mine out to do so. Johnny said, “Let me borrow yours first for a minute. I’ll call Barbara back home and have her turn mine off.” 

Doc Blakely is a humorist and motivational speaker who resides in Wharton. For more information, visit www.docblakely.com.

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