Date: Thu, 27 Oct 1994 23:28:36 -0500

From: Joan Livingston-Webber webber[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CWIS.UNOMAHA.EDU

Subject: born in a barn

In my childhood home, "born in a barn" referred exclusively

to someone who didn't close an outside door behind them. For

table manners, there was a verse, "Mabel, mabel strong and able

Get your elbows off the table."

I use born in a barn with my kids and their friends, and I,

too, use it exclusively as a way to say, "shut the door !" I

have always assumed it had to with not having to pay to heat a

barn so it didn't matter if the door was left open, probably

because it was often followed by something about not paying to heat

the outside.

I think children in Johnstown were not raised or reared, we

were brought up. You were brought up right if you were

seen and not heard, said yes ma'am and no sir, didn't backtalk,

pushed your chair back under the table, didn't put your elbows

on the table and so on. My sense is that being brought up right

had as much or more to do with manners as with ethics and morals

(e.g. being honest, loyal, etc). My grandfather (95 yrs old) is

a linguistic relic--I'm 6th or 7th generation Johnstown by his

line. I plan to go home next summer. Any

suggestions about how to query him for a form on this? (He does

put his elbows on the table and say "three mile down the road" and

"I seen a guy the other day."))


Joan Livingston-Webber webber[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

"What gets better is the precision with which we vex each other."

-Clifford Geertz