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Toads, Cooters, Tubs and Ying
by Patricia (Pat) Corbett Keadle



When I was a little girl -- oh, about 5 or so -- there were two little sisters who lived across the circle from us in a small white clapboard house. We played from sunup to sundown back in the days when it was okay to meander from house to house as long as we didn’t go up to the paved road or get into the poison ivy. Suppertime could be discerned by the fragrances tripping madly down our little dirt road. Mrs. C. always cooked liver and onions . . . oh, what a nice smell for such a yucky dish (to a 5 year old). Mama liked to make potato pancakes and sauerkraut with spare-ribs. Ohhhh!!!

Hardly anyone asked if they could eat at someone else’s house; it just wasn’t done.

In the summertime, honest to goodness, I don’t remember its being as hot as it is now. We had a fan, a hose, a wading pool. One year, Daddy the Realtor brought home a claw-legged tub from a renovated house. The tub had been tossed out in favor of the modern ones we toss out in favor of . . . you get the picture.

About this time Mama had a little surprise for me. I got to stay the night with the two sisters across the circle. In a few days she brought the most beautiful blonde, curly-haired baby-doll home. The doll was so lifelike. Heck, it should be -- she was a BABY. And she was all MINE. Let those sisters have each other, I had my own backup now. As the years flew by, the parents would join us in our yard to yard visitations on occasion.

I recall the younger of the two sisters absolutely LOVED toady-frowgs. And yes, I meant “frowgs,” in spite of MSWord disliking that spelling. She would pick up a big old toad and hold it to her bare tummy and say, “Ooooooh, toady-frowg, yoo sooooooo told." It’s been 60 years and, you know, a toady-frowg is still TOLD.

Now, at my house we had toads -- regular and industrial size -- but our amphibian of choice was the cooter. If you are from the South you know what a cooter is. They wander slowly across highways, and Daddy always stopped and picked up every darned cooter he came across.

(Okay, a hint: A cooter to the non-Southern populace is a box turtle. There, I said it.)

MY BABY would call them by name: "Cooooooootie, Coooooootie, and Coooootie!"

That there were several more would tear my keyboard up, but suffice to say we had cooters up the ying-yang. That brings me to another remembrance -- the Ying.

MY BABY never said, "Nanny nanny boo booo" or "Back atcha!" We were GRITS [Girls Raised in the South] after all, so she'd take her tiny index fingers aside of her nose and in a downward rapid twitch say, "Ying-ying-ying." So much more profound, don’t you think? Beats TOLD all to pieces.

That was six decades ago. I just called MY BABY middle sister and wished her a happy birthday. Her name’s Nancy, and she still has those hazel green eyes. She has a grandbaby now. Come to think of it, so does our little sister Debbie.

Hey, I was first -- where is MY GRAND BABY?

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Here are more stories by Pat Keadle:
Visitin' Aint Margret
I Spent Time In Jail...

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Pat Keadle graduated from Nursing School at the University of South Carolina (downtown U) a really long time back. (She says they had metal bedpans and glass syringes at that time.) She swears she is Southern by the Grace of God. Her mama was an imported Yankee from New York City. Pat's daddy was a Marine -- and who could resist that blue uniform and white hat? Pat can trace her "Daddy's people" way back to the 1700s. She lives about three miles up from her daddy's homeplace with her sweetie, Bruce, hubby of 41 years.


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