Top Navigation

Vocabulary from the Deep South

Of all the people I talked to about Marnell, Mary was perhaps the most skeptical.
“Katrina,” she said, with the dozens of K’s at the beginning of the word, “You have to be reeeeaaaaallly careful about that. You’ve been independent for all these years, so you need to think that over and pray about it. Pray about it, Katrina!”

The other night, Marnell was coming over, so I decided to call her to see if we could visit.  The phone rang, and it seemed that someone picked up, but I couldn’t hear her so I hung up.  A little later, I tried again, and her line was busy, so I hung up.  Then, I saw that she had left me a message, so we must have missed each other.

“Katrina, when you get this call me!  Call me, Katrina!”

So I did, and she answered this time.

“Katrina, I was just about to call you to ask if you could come pray with me!” she said, and her voice came out like a sob.

“What’s wrong, Mary?” I asked.

It’s a bad day when Mary is the one crying and calling me!

“My heart just hurts for my grandkids!” she cried.

I would like to be more specific, but to respect her privacy I need to be sketchy.

“Okay, I’ll come,” I said, as my doorbell rang.  “And…my boyfriend will probably be come along, but he’ll pray with us, if that’s okay?”

“Okay,” she said.

I let Marnell in just in time for him to hear me say, “We’ll be right over.”

We walked down Brady Street, across 5th Street, and over to 6th Street where we climbed the cement steps and rang the doorbell.

Mary was composed when she answered the door, and she looked beautiful in a brown dress with a ruffle at the bottom.  She shook hands pleasantly with Marnell, and told us to sit down at her dining room table, then proceeded to tell the story.  After a few minutes, she dissolved into wailing and tears. 

We got up and went around the table to stand beside her. 

Mary prayed first, “I’m asking you God!” she said, “be with my grand kids! And I’m asking you Jesus, heal my broken heart!” and then, “Thank you Jesus, Thank you.”

After all three of us had prayed for the situation, we sat down and talked some more.  We discussed the odd fact that Mary had been about to call me when I had called her.

“I had forgot your number,” she said, “and then I looked at the phone and I said, ‘That’s Katrina calling’! But then I tried to call you back and you didn’t answer, so I left that message, and I said, ‘Devil, get out of the phone!'”

We laughed and talked about how God always works things out.  At least with Mary, I’ve almost quit being surprised by these strange events.

“Remember the turkey?” I asked her, and we smiled in delight, just thinking of the Thanksgiving turkey of 2012, which God sent to Mary. 

We got up to leave, and Marnell told her he enjoyed visiting.

“Now, don’t let it be the last time!” she said fixing her bright eyes on him.

Later that week I was driving Mary and Lily to Martin’s. 

“You missed Marnell the other night,” I told Lily. 

“I know,” she said.

“I told Lil’, he cute!” Mary said to me. “And Katrina’s face was as bright as a bo dollar! Yes, as bright as a bo dollar!” 

“A what?” I asked, waiting to turn from 3rd street to Jackson Street.  

“A bo dollar!” she said. “You know, like a silver dollar.” 

I love interesting vocabulary, and I collect a lot of great words from people like the doctors I work with, but my neighbor Mary isn’t usually a source of new words.  

I went home and looked it up and found it to be a term for a silver dollar, used mostly by poor blacks in the south, especially during the 1930s and 40s. It was possibly from beau dollar, a French expression referring to “real” money as opposed to paper money. 

I don’t consider Mary to be poor. In fact in many ways that matter, she is one of the wealthiest people I know (who else would order the devil out of the phone?). Mary’s faith, like a bo dollar, is the real thing. 

Still, the poor black south of the 30’s and 40’s was her childhood. And I was pleased at the irony of adding a new word from  her (from them!) just as I collect great vocabulary words from the highly educated people at the hospital. 

Best of all, I could tell from her tone of voice that Marnell had passed her critical inspection. 

Maybe he has a knack for winning people over.

6 Responses to Vocabulary from the Deep South

  1. M K Borkholder March 25, 2017 at 6:20 pm #

    Faith in action!

  2. Pauline Kulp March 25, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

    Loved your story about Mary I think I would like to connect with her , wish her grandchildren would not disappoint her . may God answer her prayers ,You and Marnell make a cute couple , such joy written all over your faces !!

    • 500Admin March 25, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

      Thanks Pauline!

  3. Rachel loewen March 26, 2017 at 12:26 am #

    Congratulations Katrina! You look so happy n I wish you both Gods best!!

  4. Sneaky Aunt March 26, 2017 at 5:55 am #

    Ha! Love his knack for winning “people” over!

  5. Judy March 26, 2017 at 7:30 am #

    Dear Ms. Jackson. I’m so glad you have each other. And Marnell, too! 🙂