Appalachia Overheard



“Son don’t worry about the mule just load the wagon.”



Overheard: snippets of conversation I overhear in Southern Appalachia



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  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    June 25, 2016 at 5:33 am

    My Daddy used to say, “Let’s sleep on it.”

  • Reply
    MJ McGill
    June 24, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    My father would say to me, among other things great advice, “When all else fails, read the directions.” He was a true sage…miss him.

  • Reply
    June 24, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    After several attempts I finally got thru to our Christian Radio Station and asked Donna Lynn if she’d play the Trio version of “He Whispers Sweet Peace to me” by Paul, Pap, and Chatter. I love that one too, and at the end I got to hear Granny say “Now that’s Good!” Well Said…Ken

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    June 24, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Well, I am with the fellow who had never heard the expression about loading the wagon! But is shore makes sense to me! I was number seven in a family of eleven children! Guess Daddy decided I did’t need to hep out – as the older kids could load the wagon!
    Eva Nell Mull Wike

  • Reply
    June 24, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    “Just pay attention to what I told you to do.” was what I always heard from my Dad.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    June 24, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Tipper,I never heard that one.The only ones that came to mind,I don’t use or even write.You know Appalachian language can be very colorful.
    My Papaw use to use one to get everybody back to work.He would say,”grasshopper,grasshopper,give a little jerk,grasshopper,grasshopper,let’s go to work.
    I found it interesting what Ray Algee wrote.My Papaw used one real similar.He would tell me that 2 heads are better than one even if one is a sheep’s head.Then he would always grin.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    June 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Great thought. I’ve never heard that one. But, there’s a similar sentiment that I do use and it’s this: “You can’t make a straight row by looking at the plow all the time.”

  • Reply
    June 24, 2016 at 11:40 am

    We have to say Good-bye to another Country Great today. I remember Ralph Stanley on the Tonight Show with David Letterman. Before he came on stage, David made a comment about Ralph being a Country Hick, but after he finished a heart-warming song ole David was touched and had to go to a Commercial.
    Seems to me these Overheard sayings are a big hit…Ken

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    June 24, 2016 at 11:39 am

    I’m with Miss Cindy! great stories could arise from that comment.

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    Ed Ammons
    June 24, 2016 at 11:34 am

    I wish I’d had that phrase in my arsenal years ago. I spent many years in management and my biggest problem was with people who spent way too much time worrying about what other people were doing.

  • Reply
    June 24, 2016 at 10:24 am

    “Can’t see the forest for the trees” was another saying that seemed to encourage looking at the whole picture instead of getting bogged down with the here and now details. Maybe I interpreted some of them wrong, but these sayings were still an ever present common sense reminder through the years.
    I tended to be indecisive growing up and would constantly ponder every decision so finally my Dad had to make up a saying of his own. He told me I should quit “second guessing” myself and to realize I made a decision based on the circumstances, and to just accept it and go on. He added, “You made that decision for a reason, and the reasons have not changed.”
    I am not familiar with this saying. However, “don’t borrow trouble’ and “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there” have served me well through the years. They seem similar in meaning, and remind that we need to stay focused on the here and now. I will add, “Son don’t worry about the mule just load the wagon.”

  • Reply
    Carol Isler
    June 24, 2016 at 9:36 am

    My best friend’s grandpa use to say that one. He was the barber in Westminister, SC.

  • Reply
    Ray P Algee
    June 24, 2016 at 8:57 am

    My Dad used a lot of these sayings where we grew up in the hills of Northwest Mississippi. One that I heard many times was, “two heads are better than one….even if one is a goat head.”
    Needless to say, he never clarified which one of us was the goat head. Lol

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    June 24, 2016 at 8:45 am

    My Dad used this expression on me a lot, he would tell me “son, you could have the job done in the time you spend trying to figure out an easier way to do it” I would tell him that the wheel was invented by someone trying to find an easier way to move something than just sliding it along. That’s when I’d get “son don’t worry about the mule, just load the wagon” meaning just get the job done. I knew then the conversation was over and the matter settled and I’d better “get er done”.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    June 24, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Well said. How easily we’re distracted by things outside of our responsibility and fail to stay on task.

  • Reply
    June 24, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Been a part of my lexicon for scores of years..

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    June 24, 2016 at 8:20 am

    “Don’t worry about the mule, just load the wagon.”
    What does this mean?
    The wagon, standing alone, with the mule not yet hitched to it, must be loaded, regardless?
    “We may not be ready yet to move this cart, but it must be loaded well-in-advance. (?)
    Is it an admonition to “Get at this job and get it finished!” No loitering! This is your assigned job! (?)
    I think behind the saying is an allusion to our Appalachian Work Ethic, which holds strongly to
    Get at it and get the job done! And, moreover, woven into that work ethic is also
    “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing right!” Quality of work, as well as dependability in getting the job done, counts strongly.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 24, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Had never heard that expression. Guess I would be on the receiving end of that saying as I have been told more than once that I think too much. Much of the time ‘too much’ only becomes clear after the fact when ‘not enough’ would also have become obvious. Reminds me of the saying ‘Don’t go off half cocked’ when gun hammers had a half-cocked position but could not be fired in that condition. Guess the best way is somewhere in the middle.
    I wonder though if part of the message is about remembering to keep the purpose in mind versus spending too much attention on the means ?
    Anyway, food for thought.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 24, 2016 at 8:09 am

    You could write a whole story around that one little comment!

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