Open Thread Update: Favorite Family Sayings

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In the previous column* we asked for favorite family sayings and readers delivered wit and wisdom from Moms, Dads, Grams and Gramps, Aunts, and family friends.

There are dozens, and every one – read them in the comments! – is a gem…from homespun wisdom…

When being overly stressed to find the ideal solution to a problem and worrying we might just make the wrong decision, my Dad, a farmer, always said, “A farmer never plowed a field by turning it over in his mind”.

-Maryellen R. the zany…

Our funny and playful grandfather would begin many meals and parties with the toast ‘Here’s mud in your eye, fishface.’ We still say it when we are together and remember the fun with had with our gramp.

-Helen L. the purely mysterious.

“On a wild horse, it will never be noticed.”
My Mother’s famous saying. Mostly used when my sisters and I would complain about something. We never figured out if we were on the wild horse or the subject of our complaint was on the horse…’

Anne J.

My father was 93yo when he died and would occasionally, in frustration, say “Gosh oh fish hooks!”

-Cheryl H.

The comments are full of family sayings from road trips and family hikes, at the dinner table, at the fruit stand and in everyday life. (Note to Kristy R. Remind me never to get on your mom’s bad side.)  

Some of them deliver folk wisdom in a unique way…

My best friend’s Mom would always say, “If wishes were fishes, we’d all have a fry.”


My grandmother was born in what was then called Indian Territory in 1905, two years before Oklahoma became a state, and had a way of putting things that stays with me. There was her take on an old saying, “Two heads is better’n one, even if one is a goat’s head…and I ain’t sayin’ which one’s the goat’s head!”

-Diana G. 

…others are a sweet insight into a loving family dynamic…

My dad, a hard working country bumpkin from Texas … after I’d done something wrong: “If I put your brain in a bird, he’d fly backwards! Come here gal and hug me!”

-Yvonne S. 

Every one is a gem, so take the time to read all the comments, and please feel free to add your own family saying. And a wise man once said…

I just want to say “Thank You” to all who have replied. It was great reading your stories!

Ernie C. 

Couldn’t agree more, can you?

*Previous Column 

I remember it like it was yesterday. As kids, my brother Vinnie and I watched a showdown on East Third Street that didn’t go well for a friend of ours and the crowd he ran with.  As we saw Yockie and his band limp away, my brother turned to me and thoughtfully said, “If you wanna lead the band, you gotta face the music.”

That phrase came in pretty handy during the Nixon Administration, but it wasn’t the only example of homespun wisdom I grew up with. Sometimes it made sense, and sometimes it…didn’t.

My parents were always keen on ways to save a few dollars and had many crazy ways to deflect the demands of their four kids for snacks. “Chocolate candy in stores all have worms in them” my mom would explain as she breezed past the candy stand, dragging me by the hand.

The Winner and Still Champion

It was my dad, though, who came up with the all-time winner. He outdid himself when he explained why mom never bought bottles of soda. It was because, he explained, ‘You’d just drink it.”

Try being a kid and wrapping your head around that one.

It took twenty years to get even but it was worth it. I was planning my wedding (I paid for everything) and told Dad we weren’t having an open bar, just beer and wine. He said “What??! No scotch?!”

I silently thanked God and said, “But Pop – you’d just drink it.”

But that’s my family’s homespun wisdom (or what passed for it to a kid). How about you? Are there any favorite catchphrases in your family?  Tell us your story in the comments!

Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send  Open Thread suggestions to

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