Outdated Words and Phrases from Classic Books

Posted July 15, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Classic Books

Tags: , , ,

My chums and I donned our coats and piled into the family roadster to post some letters. “Hypers,” you say. “What is this person talking about?” I’m talking about outdated words and phrases from The Dana Girls Mystery Stories and Nancy Drew Mystery Stories written by Carolyn Keene.   

Once again, I was in the basement perusing my wall of books, trying to decide how to condense them when I pulled out some old copies of Nancy Drew and The Dana Girls. These books had been passed along to my sisters and me when we were young. I considered these books classics and devoured them. I was convinced I wanted to be a detective when I grew up. I even carried around a pocket knife, matches, and little flashlight in my purse – always ready in case a mystery happened along.

I thought the author was the bee’s knees, until I found out, much to my dismay, that “Carolyn Keene” was a pen name for the many different authors who wrote both series.  

Through the years, many of these books have been updated, but I still love the originals. The outdated language is a hoot. I browsed through the books and chortled as I came across words and phrases that are not often heard in America today. The word chums has been replaced by friends and roadster by car. We no longer post a letter, we mail a letter. Instead of the word rouge, today’s woman calls this cosmetic blush. And what about these phrases – a delightful colored woman, a young Negro maid, a woman of foreign birth? Would we consider these phrases politically correct today?  

Sitting By the Light of the Study Lamp, I donned my glasses and had a swell time searching for outdated words and phrases. Do you have any you’d like to share?

Not Your White House Manners

Posted July 12, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Laughter, Life

Tags: , , , ,

Feeding a family is always a challenge. Take Burger Boy by Alan Durant. Burgers are the only thing Benny wants to eat. He eats so many he turns into one, and that’s when the trouble begins. Then there’s my family. They just like to eat, and that’s when the trouble begins.

The Stefanec side of the family was at our house for dinner this past weekend. I carefully planned what I thought was a great Wisconsin taste treat for those members who live on the east and west coasts.  We began with several Wisconsin cheese appetizers to tease the taste buds. For the main course, we had a barbecue. There were racks of ribs, brats with a variety of condiments, chicken breasts, corn on the cob, homemade potato salad (my mom’s recipe), cole slaw, Jay’s Potato chips (a special treat for my Florida sister), and for dessert we had a traditional family favorite – Jell-O cake (decorated in a patriotic manner with blueberries and strawberries by my daughter). Of course, we also had a large variety of adult and kid-friendly beverages.

There was so much food I knew I would be in leftover heaven for the next few days. Wrong! I miscalculated the eating power of my family. The food magically disappeared from serving dishes to plates. The Stefanec Clan then proceeded to inhale their dinners. When a request was made for more, I checked pots, pans, and containers and informed them there was no more food in the inn. That’s when family members began grabbing uneaten corn from other people’s plates, and someone who had a rib section left took a bite of it and tossed it back into the serving dish to be passed along for others to nibble on – which they did.

As I watched my crazy family pass, toss, and gobble food, I thought of something we used to say, “Would you eat like this in the White House?” Of course not, but we can do it here because we’re family.  

In Burger Boy, Benny learns his lesson and switches from eating burgers to eating vegetables. I guess I learned my lesson, too. Don’t count your leftovers until everyone has licked their share of the platter clean. I love my family. We’re not stuffy. We’re just stuffed!

My Dad

Posted July 8, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Life

Tags: ,

I love you, Dad!



The Relatives Are Coming! The Relatives Are Coming!

Posted July 5, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Life

Tags: , ,

Quick! Hide the mess. Wash to windows. Spit shine the floors. Polish the furniture. Change the linens. Tomorrow the relatives arrive. Planes and cars will bring relatives from California, Florida, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin.

Who are these people? They’re my daughter, brother, sisters, and nieces. Why should I care how my house looks for my brother and sisters? I grew up with them. I’ve seen them at their worst and I’ve seen them at their best and vice versa. But there’s something about wanting your brother and sisters to see you as the mature grown up you’ve become and not the hopelessly naive space queen from your youth.

As a family we all have our quirks and we don’t always get along. There will be some banter, some wise cracks, some rants, some tears, some good memories, and, hopefully, lots of laughter. So what’s the reason for the east coast meets west coast meets in the middle get together?

On Friday, we’ll memorialize my dad’s life. He passed away on January 8th of this year. Yes, it took us a bit of time to get organized. That’s part of the quirkiness of our family – getting it all together. Tomorrow would have been my parents’ 65th wedding anniversary. My mom passed away nine months before my dad, and on Friday we will lay him to rest next to her.

As we gather together as a family, we owe it to my parents to be the best that we can be for at least a few days because they were the best part of our lives!

Here’s a book young readers might enjoy about relatives:

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Stephen Gammell (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2001)

Happy Fourth of July!

Posted July 1, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , ,

“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” — Benjamin Franklin

God Bless America!

Celebrate with these books!

Happy Birthday, America by Mary Pope Osborne and illustrated by Peter Catalanotto (Square Fish, 2008), Independence Day by Mir Tamim Ansary (Heinemann-Raintree, 2007)

Thou Shalt Not Hoard Books

Posted June 28, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Libraries

Tags: , ,

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” − Sir Francis Bacon “And some books are meant to be discarded.” − Cathy Stefanec Ogren

The books you see on the bookshelves in our basement are books I’ve been hoarding for years. These bookshelves are an extension of our home library because there’s not enough room upstairs to store them all. On these shelves are reference books, writing books, books that I’ve used for teaching, books from my daughter’s childhood, cook books, history books, biographies, really old books, and new books. You name it. We have it. Books. Books. Books. We’ve moved these books to several different houses, packing and unpacking them. After bringing more books home from my dad’s house, I decided it was time to act like a librarian and weed my own books. My husband cheered.  

I started. Some books went right into the garbage, some books I set aside to donate, and some books that should have been discarded got a reprieve for the time being. Getting rid of books is a difficult task for me.

In the hours I spent weeding, rereading, and making decisions what to do with them, I realized books should not be hidden on bookshelves, collecting dust. Books need to be read and reread. Books need to be shared or donated to those who don’t have the pleasure of having books of their own. Books need to be loved until they fall apart. When that happens, then it’s time to say goodbye.

Throwing away a book is a sad moment for me. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend. The good thing about discarding a book is that there are always new books to meet and begin new friendships. You are never alone with a good book.

Shake, Rattle, and Rumble

Posted June 24, 2011 by cathyso3
Categories: Life

Tags: , ,

When I said “Summer Rain” was one of my favorite summer tunes, I didn’t mean it was one of my favorite weather patterns. Since the first day of summer, wind, rain, hot temperatures, cool temperatures, and wicked thunder and lightning have been hanging around. Zeus, the Greek god of thunder and lightning, must be getting some grief from his wife about his affairs, and he’s taking it out on us!

The first flash of light warns me thunder will follow. I’m not particularly fond of thunder and lightning – especially when they arrive in the middle of the night and put on an earsplitting blazing light show.

In years past, when thunder and lightning filled the darkness of the night, I’d awake to find a little someone staring down at me and clutching her rag doll, Jenny. My husband and I would fix a bed for our daughter on the floor next to us, and she’d camp out for the rest of the night, feeling safe.  

I still cringe when I hear thunder in the night. When lightning flashes and thunder rumbles the entire house, my heart beats faster. I’m wide awake until the last sound of thunder fades into the distance. As an adult, my daughter loves thunderstorms. In fact, she looks forward to them. It must be because of the safe haven we provided her when she was young. Of course, she still has her Jenny doll to keep her safe.     

I say rain is fine in moderation. It’s Mother Nature doing her work. But enough of these wicked thunderstorms!

Some books to shake, rattle, and rumble you.

Picture Books:  Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco (Puffin, 1997), How Thunder and Lightning Came to Be by Beatrice Harrell and illustrated by Susan L. Roth (Dial, 1995), The Storm Book by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham (HarperCollins, 1989) 

Nonfiction Picture Books:  Rumble, Boom! A Book about Thunderstorms  by Rick Thomas and illustrated by Denise Shea (Picture Window Books, 2006), Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll by Franklyn M. Branley and illustrated by True Kelley (Collins, 1999)


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