Appalachia Overheard



“There was this woman there that was drunker than Cooter Brown.”


Overheard: snippets of conversation I overhear in Southern Appalachia

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  • Reply
    February 21, 2018 at 9:04 am

    My mother use to say when she got aggravated about something /anything, ” Oh the devil and Tom Bell.” I never knew who Tom Bell was and why she said this.

  • Reply
    April Coffey
    February 17, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Hi Wanda! There actually was a real Cooter Brown. He was a gentleman that lived right on the line between the North and the South. He had relatives from the North and from the South. This was at the beginning of the Confederate War. He loved all of his kin and didn’t want to have to pick a side to fight for so he stayed falling-down drunk during the entire war so that he wouldn’t be drafted to either side. That’s where the saying “drunker than Cooter Brown” originated! Isn’t that a cool fact?!

  • Reply
    Joanne Nelson
    February 17, 2018 at 8:34 pm


    Yep!! I have heard that expression here all my life. Gee I thought Cooter Brown lived in East Texas.. Guess he moved around a lot. I also heard another expression about someone being drunk.. “He’s three sheets to/in the wind”. I asked my daddy once what that one meant. He said the person was so drunk he was flying high. It referred to sailing ships with all three sails up and the boat flying over the water fast. I just remembered another one I have heard people say in my neck of the woods.. “He’s so drunk, he don’t know come here from siccum”.

    Thanks for today’s post. Brings back lots of memories of my daddy and some of the things I’ve heard him say over the years. He was quite a character in his colloquial speech.

  • Reply
    Yecedrah higman
    February 17, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    I have heard that phrase all my life too. I also grew up with a boy whose name is Hershel Brown and his nickname was Cooter Brown. I never knew about his real name until I was grown. We all just called him Cooter. I never knew of him drinking liquor either. I haven’t thought about Cooter in many years so this brought about a fun memory.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 17, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    I’ve heard “drunker than Cooter Brown” all my life. My grandmother and Mom/Dad also said the term at various times.
    The first time I remember hearing it was when I was a girl riding in the back of the old Packard on our way home from Knoxville…Mom noticed the person driving in front of us was beginning to weave all over the curvy highway…she screamed out “he’s drunker than Cooter Brown” to my Dad…he immediately hit the brakes and bowed the car up as we came flying toward the front seat from the back..(no seat belts in the Packard back in the forties)….From then on I sure didn’t want to run into Cooter Brown no where again or his friend…LOL
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Sherry Whitaker
    February 17, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Heard that all my life. Another saying was, “he was two sheets to the wind.” I have never figured that one out. ? ??

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    February 17, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Cooter Brown sure got around!

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    Lee Mears
    February 17, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Cooter’s a new one for me. !
    My family and their older acquaintances used to use ‘Well, Sam Jones’, as a exclamation as we do OMG.
    I never knew Sam either.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    That’s a new one for me, Cooter Brown. ha I had never heard that one before, and I grew-up right in the middle of Moonshiners and drunks.

    One time 3 of them was making Liquor on Piercy Creek and one got a bad toothache. The other 2 found a pair of ole rusty pliers, held him down and pulled that succer. Just to be sure they got the’right one, they got the one next to it too. …Ken

  • Reply
    Sheryl PaulI
    February 17, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Oh my gosh, I Haven’t heard thst since I was a kid!

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    Wanda Devers
    February 17, 2018 at 11:08 am

    i always thought it was “Cootie Brown” ! Maybe just pronounced different in my neck of the woods. Mama used to say someone was “Meaner than John A. Murrell”. Eventually I found it was a real person. Maybe somewhere there was a bad drunkard named Cooter Brown.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    February 17, 2018 at 11:07 am

    As the song Bojangles went, “He drinked a bit”.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 9:55 am

    My youngest son is Scooter Brown. He is only six so I don’t think he’s hitting the sauce quite yet. He never learned to crawl. He would scoot across the floor on his chest, so I named him Scooter. Everyone else calls him some other name I can’t even remember.

    • Reply
      February 17, 2018 at 11:21 am

      Excuuuse me Scooter is my grandson!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    February 17, 2018 at 9:53 am

    From what I understand Old Cooter lived on the Mason Dixon line when the war between the states began.
    Not wanting to be drafted by either side because he had family on both, decided to just stay drunk the entire time so they would find him unfit for duty.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Never heard that one, but have heard drunker than a boweled owl. I don’t know how on earth that boweled word was spelled, but it was pronounced just like that.

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    Ron Stephens
    February 17, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Don’t know Cooter. I expect though that he did not make whiskey. He just kept trying to see the bottom of the jar.

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    Don Byers
    February 17, 2018 at 8:43 am

    I myself have been accused of being drunker than Cooter Brown…….what I want to know is, how drunk was Cooter???

  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 8:02 am

    I always wondered who Cooter Brown was, I’ve heard that phrase all my life and never met Cooter personally. In my wllder days I met Jack Daniel, Jim Beam, George Dickel ect. but never Cooter Brown. And believe me that’s a bunch you don’t want to hang out with.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 17, 2018 at 7:54 am

    Tipper–I’ve heard this before and often wondered who in Sam Hill was Cooter Brown (and for that matter, Sam Hill)?
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 7:24 am

    That is familiar, and makes me wonder who poor ole Cooter Brown was. There are other familiar phrases when somebody has lingered too long at the wine. One could say he was “drunk as a skunk.” Also I have heard,” high as a kite,” When they were skeptical they might use the term nipping.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 17, 2018 at 6:13 am

    Cooter Brown was bad to drink!

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