Old Man – Funny Characters from Appalachia

Funny stories about appalachia


I love to hear Pap tell funny stories from his past. Most of the characters are long gone from this world, but they still live in Pap’s mind and I’m sure on occasion he awakes with one of them in his thoughts and a smile on his face.

When Pap was a boy, there was a funny older man around the community-folks even called him Old Man. Pap said he was as good as gold and would help anyone who needed an extra hand. Like most characters he was lots of fun to be around. Pap said Old Man used big words to try to impress people however, the words weren’t always real words. He wore a tie every day of the week no matter what kind of shirt, pants, or overalls he had on. Old Man was also partial to fancy socks and he wore his pants just short enough to show them off.

A young local boy was drafted but when he went over to Knoxville to officially sign up he was turned down. Everyone at the local country store was wondering why the boy was denied entrance into the military. Old Man knew the answer “It wasn’t his physidition it was his edmentation that got him turned down.” Uh?

One fall day Pap heard Old Man say “There ain’t no defalcation about it, it’s going to turn cold.”

Another thing that made Old Man a real character was he made sure everyone he met knew that even though he was a Methodist, he wasn’t sprinkled he was baptized. Dunked completely under.

Folks like Old Man are one of the things that make life interesting. I can think of a few characters from my past that still put a smile on my face. How about you?


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in September of 2009.


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  • Reply
    August 30, 2015 at 10:51 am

    I can never tell those girls apart. I sure love the new hairdo one has with the earrings, but they are both “cute as a button.” I might add they are really becoming “star” material with their singing and playing. I loved their rendition of this old favorite.
    I enjoyed so much the post Ed wrote about Red Gibson. Even if these sweet, innocent people aren’t recognized on earth, I think they will someday be rewarded. Remembering many of them in times past, and especially one blue-eyed little man who once stood on our town’s street corner with his Bible. For literally years he would repeat over and over the importance of the Lord and Savior while standing on the corner or walking the streets. Sadly, nobody came to fill his shoes when he left his post forever. Angels unaware?
    You did it again, Tipper, posted on a subject that took on a life of its own. Whether it be a simple seed or a life altering experience, you just have a magic with words! Such a talented family just has to have great things ahead.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    August 29, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    Oh yeah, two of those characters were our Dad and Grandad. Both of ’em had a way of confusing the way words should be used, making up some and using others in confusing ways.
    One I’ll always remember was the word, “generic” that according to our Dad, had two meanings, i.e. something not brand name AND ALSO something made for old people (geriatric). And for our Grandad, it was the Ramadama Inn.
    Didn’t make any sense to try to correct them. They’d use ’em the same way (their way) next time anyway.
    I’ve often been sorry we didn’t write them all down. There’s no doubt they’d have made a hilarious book to read.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 29, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    So, Defalcation would be used in and around Washington DC more than the rest of the county since that’s where most of the Defalcators reside. Old Man must have been a Senator or Rep. or something. I don’t think we’ve had a president called Old Man although the picture looks a lot like Harry Truman.

  • Reply
    Annette Casada Hensley
    August 29, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Oh, how I love hearing the stories of those special mountain characters. Even better is seeing and hearing them with one’s own ears and eyes! Can’t wait for brother Jim to finish his book. These mountain characters bring back such wonderful memories — and that makes me wonder if there are any special characters of today?????

  • Reply
    Shirley B
    August 29, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    When someone mentions colorful characters,I always think of my Dad.Although not from the mountains, I think he would have fit right in.The pictures of Pap remind me of him a lot..those shined up shoes,for one thing.He was a good and honest man,well liked,but also was known to run a little moonshine business in his younger years.He was saved and baptized(yep,completely dunked)when he was 74 years old.After that he loved going to church,and named his faithful dog Marty after our preacher.ha

  • Reply
    Granny Norma
    August 29, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Tipper,
    Defalcation is a real word:
    noun, Law.
    misappropriation of money or funds held by an official, trustee, or other fiduciary.
    the sum misappropriated.
    Old Man just misappropriated it!
    And I’m with him on the dunking.
    It’s a glorious day! Get outside and enjoy it.

  • Reply
    August 29, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    The trick is to share the stories of these intriguing souls with the awe and respect their sincere uniqueness deserves. It’s too easy to slip into mockery and belittlement as so many contemporary “comedians” do. Yet, the stories of these delightful people and their characters must be kept alive. I always thought it better to describe America as a goulash or a stew rather than a “melting pot” – wouldn’t we be a boring lot if we all merged and melted together to be the same!? So much better when we “season” each other just a little bit but keep our own flavors.

  • Reply
    August 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    I remember my Uncle Joe Matheson,
    (the one that had the pet Crow)
    use to visit us. You get him about half-lit and he could really play a banjo. He’d just stare at the light in our living room, never making eye contact with us. He didn’t have much to say and never visited unless he was drinking. He was mama’s mama’s brother…Ken

  • Reply
    August 29, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    I believe that in our more urban times such people would be diagnosed, medicated, if not locked up; certainly they’d be homeless

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 29, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    Tipper-I have put together something I have been thinking about for a long time but it might be too long to publish as a comment. Is is OK to ask your readers to read it on my site?

  • Reply
    August 29, 2015 at 11:54 am

    That’s funny, reminds me of an Older Gentleman we use to go to Church with. ( He past away several years ago) On Wednesday Nights, us Men would take turns and teach Bible Study, when it came this Gentleman’s time to teach he would come out with words similar to this, and the weird thing is, when he would sometimes lead singing he did the same thing come out with words that were not even in the book or any book for that matter,, just made up…maybe that’s what he thought they said.. You could look around and there would be grins on everyone’s
    face, trying not to laugh..

  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    August 29, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Our community had several like that. Several just had different ways of speaking. Clinton (Slick) Collins could imitate them all.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 29, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Well, I knew, or knew of, a Dick who lived under a cliff with his family, a great uncle who wore a tie into the coal mines, a moonshiner who my Dad coon hunted with who was albeit a very honest man, a fella with the nickname “Hoot” because he allegedly answered back to a ‘hoot’ owl asking, ‘Who, Who?’ and a man who would shout out whatever he was thinking of if poked in the ribs. The young rapscallions liked to sneak around and poke him when he was in a crowd including once in church when he roared out, “Horse collar !” Poor man. It is sorta funny but I feel sorry for him to.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    August 29, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I was in a “Big Box” store in North GA and almost bumped into an overall clad gentleman. When I said “I’m sorry, Sir” he replied “I am, too, but I don’t go around telling everybody about it”. Made my day !!!

    • Reply
      Arnold Denney
      August 26, 2018 at 4:00 am

      Haha, Sue, I do that all the time when someone says “I’m sorry, I extend my right hand and howdy, I’m low down pleased to meet you.”

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    August 29, 2015 at 10:20 am

    When I was growing up a female relative said, “Lord, it is so hot the pusteration is running down my back”.

  • Reply
    August 29, 2015 at 9:46 am

    My childhood was filled with colorful characters. That was back in the day when one showed respect instead of taunting the strange behavior. One of the sweetest and most gentle was someone named “Sack Daddy.” I have not a clue why the nickname, but back in the day was common to use a gunnysack to carry instead of all the fancy gear we have today. I can’t picture Sack Daddy with a back pack. He would have long talks with my Grampa when he would visited, and all the children loved this little eccentric elderly man.
    Thanks for the idea, Tipper. I must include this sweet character in one of the books I do for our family reunion. I love to steal your ideas by stoking sweet memories of yesteryear.

  • Reply
    August 29, 2015 at 9:36 am

    There’s nothing like something from the past to bring forth a good memory. Good repeat!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 29, 2015 at 9:08 am

    and Jim…Loved your story of the Old Man! I wish I could have been a fly on the wall recording some of those made-up words and explanations…or were they! ha ha
    Jim…You brought to my mind my Grandmother when she talked about a old fellow around Marshall, NC. She would exclaim…”Well now, let me tell you, he is as quair as they is here abouts, but he would be the first’n to hep you out if you was down and out”!
    Hurry up and finish that book, Jim. I’ll be on the waiting list!
    That kind of book reminds me of John Parris writin’!
    Thanks Tipper for this wonderful rerun post, I remember the first’n too and still love reading it!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    August 29, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Well Tipper: We had lots of wonderful old fellows in our family but not many in our community. The Cove was a safe and simple place to grow up.You had to go to town and set on the Square to listen to old men talk. They would set there on the Square and talk til supper time – if someone would set and listen. But my Grandpa Mull and my Grandpa Wimpey were my favor right story tellers. But of course Daddy was just like Grandpa Mull and even told the same stories that he had heard as a boy!
    Sweet memories! Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 29, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Tipper–To me, true mountain characters are one of the most endearing and enduring features of life in the southern Appalachians. Bryson City and Swain County of my boyhood had its fair share of characters and then some–Britt McCracken (funniest man I ever knew), Al Dorsey (convicted murderer who was a catfishing wizard), Arthur Blanton (who collected wire, string, and bottles), George Monteith (the walkingest man you’ll ever meet), my Grandpa Joe (who was quair in the finest mountain sense), and many others.
    I’ve got more than half a book profiling these mountain characters completed and under consideration by a publisher. I think I shared a couple of chapters with you.
    Jim Casada
    P. S. Some of our grand mountain characters achieved considerable renown or notoriety–think Judge Felix Alley or the goat gland man, John Brinkley.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 29, 2015 at 7:45 am

    I understand exactly what he is saying, Tip. Do you suppose that means I have an edmentation problem too? No defalcation!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 29, 2015 at 7:33 am

    He does sound like fun. I really don’t recall some one like old man around my hometown, but lots of other people I loved to be around.

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