I’ve been fortunate to have had some memorable vacation experiences over the years – sunning on the beach near brother Steve’s place on the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii, sipping limoncello and watching passing gondolas with Linda and good friends in an apartment overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice, and, best of all, lazing in a rustic cabin with my parents and siblings on the crystal-clear Big Sugar creek near Pineville, Missouri.

I’ve been fortunate to have had some memorable vacation experiences over the years – sunning on the beach near brother Steve’s place on the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii, sipping limoncello and watching passing gondolas with Linda and good friends in an apartment overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice, and, best of all, lazing in a rustic cabin with my parents and siblings on the crystal-clear Big Sugar creek near Pineville, Missouri.
  
Pineville? Pineville, Missouri, you say! In the same category as Hawaii and Venice?
 
You bet. Back in the 1960s, we stayed at a large, two-storey, family cabin with a screened in dining room (and outhouse down the path) or at Crag O’Lea Resort, a grouping of individually-named, rustic cabins of assorted sizes — with lumpy beds and large screened windows on all sides — beneath a canopy of old oak trees. No hot water. One of the best places to escape, rest, retreat, and relax I’ve ever found.
  
Which is why it came as no surprise to me that famed Pittsburg-born folklorist Vance Randolph moved to Pineville at age 27 and used it as the jumping off point from which to gather, catalogue and write about folktales and folksongs of the Ozarks.
  
Even though he moved away to Pineville, and lived there most of his life, we’ll be having his 120th birthday party here in his birthplace at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Pittsburg Public Library. The program will include, besides birthday cake, a presentation on Randolph’s life by Randy Roberts, archivist and curator of Special Collections at Axe Library at PSU.
 
In addition to Mr. Robert’s talk, some of Randolph’s Ozark folktales will be read by Wayne Bockelman, Liz Harris, and yours truly. Randolph also collected numerous folksongs, some of which will be performed by Jim Harris.
 
I’ll also explore Ozark superstitions and dialect — some of which, Randolph has noted, dates back 700 years to England.
 
“The term misdoubt, meaning to suspect or distrust, is a typical Ozark barbarism, but it is used at least once by Shakespeare,” Randolph writes. A necklace is sometimes called a pair o’ beads in the Ozarks. Randolph says that this seemed strange to him until he found in Chaucer’s Prologue a reference to the peire of bedes worn by the Prioresse.
 
Randolph also writes at some length about the peculiarities of conversational taboos in Ozark speech. Sex was very seldom mentioned — except in bawdy humor — and was therefore excluded from all polite conversations between men and women. The taboo even extended to words like bull, buck, ram, and jack.
 
Further, Randolph writes that the Ozarker seldom used words like virgin or maiden, since these terms carry too direct a reference to sex. Even the word bed was seldom used before strangers. Ozark women did not go to bed — they lay down.
 
Not that Ozarkers couldn’t get bawdy, as I can attest to after reading Randolph’s “Pissing In The Snow & Other Ozark Folktales.” There’s 101 ribald tales in the book, two of which I feel reasonably comfortable reading in mixed company; which I will do at Sunday’s program.
 
In the area of superstitions, Randolph writes that every mountain girl knows that if she gives a man whiskey in which her fingernail trimmings have been soaked, he is certain to fall madly in love with her. Such beliefs are taken so seriously that the victim of such a “love charm” is not held responsible for his actions, and many a deserted wife is comforted with the reflection that her man did not leave her of his own free will, but was “conjured off”.
 
As I’m a language lover, I’ll also share a little on how I discovered “How to Talk Pure Ozark” with help from a book of the same name by Springfield, Missouri newspaperman, Dale Freeman.
 
I found, for example, the term “porn”, that gets bandied about so much in the media these days, has been around the Ozarks for ages, as in, “It’s shore porn down rain … a real frog strangler.” And the word “blade” does not refer to a knife’s cutting edge but the damage it may inflict: “He lack tuh blade tuh death when he cut hissef.”

Wahl, ah’ll be goldanrned if I’m not a gittin’ plumb tard a writin’ this col-yum an need tuh rest mah eyes fur a spell. I’m a gonna quit an have me ah leetle lay-down. Don’t furget, yoons are vited tuh the lie-berry on Sunny affernoon over ere in Picksburg, Cainsus. Preshate it if yoons’d load up sum a yer kin in yer Fard or Shivvy an braing em too. Ever-body’s gotta be somewhirs. Braing yer camree; take pitchers.
 
J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and prevention and wellness coordinator at Pittsburg State University. He also operates Knoll Training, Consulting & Counseling Services in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or jtknoll@swbell.net.