Appalachia

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Heard it through the grapevine

Have you ever heard something through the grapevine? I bet you have.

I’ve heard the phrase I heard it through the grapevine my whole life; and I’ve used the phrase myself. But I’ve never given the origin of the phrase a second thought.

I was recently reading a book about the Civil War and came across the origin of the phrase.

Soon after the telegraph was invented by Samuel F. B. Morse, telegraph wires were strung up between poles in a random manner which strongly resembled vines. This led people to compare telegraph lines to grapevines-calling them grapevine telegraphs.

When rumors began to multiply and spread during the Civil War, people decided the untruths were being carried by people who were no better than those new fangled grapevine telegraphs that couldn’t be trusted to send the right message.

I would never in a million years have connected hearing something through the grapevine with telegraph wires-would you? Although, now that I know the origin of the phrase it makes perfect sense.

Tipper

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    November 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Yeah, this has been around a long time. I loved the song by Creedence.

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    November 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Tipper, I have been missing your good blog. I had a heart attach last week and was in Memorial Mission Hosp. I had a stint put in. My heart was damaged in a small area. I’m feeling better and plan on feeling better, and more better. Thanks
    to all.
    Peggy L.

  • Reply
    elithea
    November 8, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    i bet you wonder how i knew…..marvin. i’d forgotten creedence did it, but really, after marvin? why bother!?

  • Reply
    jean
    November 8, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Hi Tipper,I wander if they ever called the old phone party lines the grapevines?Anyway, mom and her mom G-ma Orth talked in German over the phone and they said it was so the neighbors wouldn’t know our busness.Since us kids didn’t know German we didn’t know our family busness eather.LOL!God Bless.Aloha, Jean

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Tipper,
    Eva Nell’s story about the preacher
    and the Babtisin’ was a good ‘un.
    When I hear that phrase I think of
    them raisins…Ken

  • Reply
    Howland
    November 8, 2013 at 10:53 am

    O my! All this time I’ve thought that I was one if the head grapes on the vine; it turns out that I was just an insulator.
    I remember reading, when I was living in Lawrence county KY, that when the Foothills Rural Telephone Cooperative ran the first wire from Webbville and Blaine in the 60s, they fastened the line to trees and fence posts. Only the local stores had ‘phones then. suspect that this added to the “grapevine” description…

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    November 8, 2013 at 9:54 am

    In Asia, sailors called it the “Bamboo Telegraph.”

  • Reply
    Gina S
    November 8, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Interesting to learn the story behind ‘heard it through the grapevine.’ Back when I was small and Mama used the phrase, I always pictured a Tarzan-type serving as the town crier even though I knew no grape vines grew around our neighborhood.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 8, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Tipper,
    Hey, hey hey!
    After checking with a couple of old, long lost friends of mine, Marvin and Credence….They told me….
    People say believe half of what you see,
    Son, and none of what you hear.
    I can’t help but be confused
    If its true please tell me dear?
    Do you plan to let me go
    For the other guy you loved before?
    Don’t you know…
    (chorus)
    I heard it through the grapevine
    Not much longer would you be mine.
    Oh I heard it throught the grapevine,
    Oh and I’m about to lose my mind.
    Honey honey yeah…..
    Yep, remember reading it somewhere or other, had not thought about it for years…
    The grapevines are so tangled in our woods, can’t say they look anything like the worst hung wires of the telegraph!…LOL
    I tried to cut some for crafts..LOL
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS….Those old buddies of mine I consulted…were Marvin Gaye, and Credence Clearwater….LOL
    Those older readers of yours will remember them…I could just get up and dance a line or two to the music…yeah yeah yeah! But Tipper, remember you heard that through the grapevine!

  • Reply
    Quinn
    November 8, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Never thought about that one, and I hear it all the time! Interesting 🙂

  • Reply
    Tamela
    November 8, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Cool! I always imagined it having to do with someone using a grapevine the way kids do a string in can telephones. – – But then, I hadn’t heard the phrase until the song came out. Guess our family got our rumors from Berdie’s family and acqaintances.
    Loved the story about Fursten. We have a neighbor whose father chose a name for him at birth but his mother kept saying “He’s so fine!” until he was called “Fine” – – last name “Peeples”.
    Name and word origins are intriquing!

  • Reply
    dolores
    November 8, 2013 at 8:40 am

    That was very interesting; I had never thought of it in that way. Interesting how as we age we begin to pick up tidbits of information.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    November 8, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Well sir, I ain’t never heered that story about the telegraph before! Let me tell you one that you may never have heered before.
    This good Preacher man was babtizen folks on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the Tusquittee Creek near the “MOSS MEMORIAL CHURCH”. This here young man stepped up to be next. Of course he was skered to death, and the Preacher man – GETTING READY TO PUT HIS HAND OVER THE BOY’s NOSSE AND MOUTH – axked “Son what is your name?” The frightened boy said, “Fursten” and then he was under the water! When the Preacher brought him up, the boy said, “Or the lasten?” But it was too late! From then on that boy was known in the Cove as FURSTEN MATHESON! He done become a Christen but he plumb his ‘real’ first name! Now that is a true story!
    Best regards,
    Eva Nell
    PS Spread the word about the 15/16th of November ON THE SQUARE IN HAYESVILLE. Me and two other authors have done gone and made the ‘bottom’ of the second section of the “Clay County Progress” newspaper for this week! WHOOPEE! See you there, Tipper!
    PS2: I loved every minute of our time with you and those beautiful ladies in the dance class in the fine city of MURPHY! Call me a dreamer, but I can’t wait to see them on BROADWAY! You know if I can imagine them being ‘on stage’THEY CAN ACHIEVE IT!

  • Reply
    Berdie Spake
    November 8, 2013 at 8:15 am

    I refuse to listen to rumors through the grapevine. I get all my information from a little bird.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    November 8, 2013 at 7:43 am

    I’ve never thought about it. So interesting!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 8, 2013 at 7:29 am

    That is something I would never have guessed, however in my family a little bird told us. Never heard where that one started either.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 8, 2013 at 7:21 am

    I, too, have heard that expression all my life but never knew it origin. I guess it make sense but I have to say I never would have made that connection.
    There just isn’t enough time in one lifetime to learn all the important things!

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