Monday, June 18, 2012

St. Louis' own language: "Hoosier"

Starting off my series on words that have a STL connection or unique meaning, I wanted to explore the word hoosier. 

So you think you know what a hoosier is, eh? Well, I guess a lot of that depends on where you're from? If you're from Indiana, the word is a source of pride and local identity...ummm, not so much here. As a kid growing up in Belleville, Illinois just a mere 7.5 miles from St. Louis, I heard the term infrequently, but didn't really understand it, and rarely used it.  Some friends and family from the Metro East did use the word, but most don't.  I had to drop some knowledge of this fine St. Louis term on my parents among others. 
Hoosier has a very distinctly alternate meaning in the STL metro region than it does in other parts of the country.  From wikipedia:
Hoosier ( /ˈhuːʒər/) is the official demonym for a resident of the U.S. state of Indiana. Although residents of most U.S. states typically adopt a derivative of the state name, e.g., "Indianan" or "Indianian", natives of Indiana never use these derivatives. Indiana adopted the nickname "Hoosier State" more than 150 years ago.[1] "Hoosiers" is also the nickname for the Indiana University athletic teams. Hoosier is sometimes used in the names of Indiana-based businesses and organizations. In the Indiana High School Athletic Association, seven active athletic conferences and one disbanded conference have the word Hoosier in their name.
In other parts of the country, the word has been adapted to other uses. In St. Louis, Missouri, the word is used in a derogatory fashion similar to "hick" or "white trash".[2] "Hoosier" also refers to the cotton-stowers, both black and white, who move cotton bales from docks to the holds of ships, forcing the bales in tightly by means of jackscrews. A low-status job, it nevertheless is referred to in various sea shanty lyrics. Shanties from the Seven Seas[3] includes lyrics that mention hoosiers. Hoosier at times can also be used as a verb describing the act of tricking or swindling someone.
That last sentence is startling...ever been hoosier'd?  Another part of the above definition that caught me off guard is the use of the term for black people.  That just doesn't follow my experience.  The term hoosier has always been reserved for white people.  Agree? 
Either way, chances are, if you are a St. Louisian, or even a metropolitan St. Louisian in the burbs, you probably know exactly what a hoosier is and some version (likely with a mullet) comes to mind...and, it probably has nothing to do with Indiana University basketball.  Frankly, I love the word, it adds to our local flavor, history and it's a distinct description.  It's not a bad word, and the politically correct set that takes offense in it can get lost.  You've got to embrace this word...it works too well to not have it in your vocabulary.  Other variations of the term I've heard:  hoos-wah (noun), hoos (adjective), turbo hoos (descriptive noun).

For those readers who have never been to St. Louis, allow me to prove my point.  Go to google and type hoosier in the search box and select images.  You'll see many pictures of Hoosier brand racing tires, Indiana basketball players, and other Indiana-related images.  Nothing of the STL hoosier though.   Now type in St. Louis Hoosier and see what you get...ah, now that's more like it.  Here are couple of the images that popped up on the first page:
^Hot looks for hot times, indeed.  I hope this doesn't seem mean spirited, I'm not poking fun as much as I am fascinated by the conscientious, deliberate work that it takes to hone this look.  It's on purpose, it's not an accident...these men seek this look out...this is a big part of who they are.  Notice the shirtless theme? Notice the many photos taken at Busch Stadium?  The Blues get the local rap for having hoosier fans, but I think that is tied to the old days at the Checkerdome with it's cheap seats/beer and proximity to Dogtown that brought that on.  When the Blues moved to the Scottrade Center and starting charging major $$ for admission, the hoosiers started staying at home.  I think Cards game are more hooʒ than Blues games.

But being a hoosier is so much more than ridiculous tattoos, mullets and sleeveless shirts.  More than anything, it's an attitude...a thought process...a way of life.  Lord knows I've done things that are hoosier (usually involving duct tape); I get the mindset...it comes with the y chromosome...although women are not immune from being hoosiers.  Hell, there may be a little hoosier in all of us.  But, at their core, are hoosiers funny?  Or, are hoosiers mean spirited and destructive to a dignified way of life?  I don't general find the latter to be my experience, but I have seen some crazy fights and lewd behavior from hoosiers.  Usually alcohol induced.  There are some great South City bars that are prime hot beds for hoosier sightings....I won't name names, but I'm sure everyone has their own favorites.  I've generally found hoosiers to be harmless and even quite endearing.  They are tough to have as immediate neighbors though, I've lived that.

Let's give the regional aspect of the hoosier some more thought...

Today, is the STL hoosier more common in the suburbs of St. Louis?  Rural counties on the outskirts?  St. Charles and Jefferson County?  Or is the hoosier more prone to settle right here in the City of St. Louis?

Sure STL professional sporting events, Soulard Mardi Gras and other city events and locations are great for luring in hoosiers from far and wide.  But are they coming from somewhere else?  Are they coming from the STL neighborhoods?  Hoosiers used to be strongly associated with Carondelet and the Patch for sure, maybe even the 3 neighborhoods of Dogtown.  But is that true today?  Are they an endangered species, are they leaving for the suburbs and rural areas?  Does the modern hoosier still listen to classic rock or has he morphed to a more contemporary country music, a mod-hate rock/nu-metal ensemble as can be heard on  105.7 F.M., or even better yet, the urban white hip hop hoosier?

As a middle-aged guy, the hoosier vision that is etched into my brain is the one who identifies with Molly Hatchet or Metallica.  But the old KSHE 95, cut-off-jorts hoosier may be going the way of the dodo bird.  But I think his spirit will live on for my kids generation to continue to experience.  But the future STL hoosier probably will not have a mullet and a sleeveless shirt; the future hoos I envision is a more ghetto take on the original hoosier.  One who tries to identify with low-class black urban lifestyles (ghetto is another misunderstood word that I'll approach next...stay tuned).  I think there is a new brand of white trash or hoosier in town that has sprung up in the post hip-hop error.

What's your description of a hoosier?  Where are they most spotted?  Are they leaving St. Louis or gaining in numbers?  Will the STL hoosier live on, or is he/she a dying breed?  Is hoosier an endearing term (like homie) or is it an insult or mean-spirited?

Back to wikipedia:
The term "hoosier" began to take on its negative connotation in St. Louis during the mid-1950's when the Chrysler Corporation built a large automobile assembly plant in the St. Louis suburb of Fenton and closed a plant it had been operating in Indiana. At the time, the city of Fenton, was at the then-rural southwest rim of St. Louis county. During this time, Many former employees of the closed Indiana plant moved to Fenton for employment; so many, in fact, that entire subdivisions of new homes sprang up south of the plant, near what was then US Route 66. It became something of a local joke to refer to the new arrivals from Indiana as "hoosiers", and before long, anyone from the rural edges of St. Louis County was considered such.
That last sentence is an important tie to my understanding of the word.  I truly think this is a St. Louis and St. Louis County term...not used as universally in the Metro East and maybe not as common in St. Charles and other exurbia counties.

And finally:
Thomas E. Murray carefully analyzed the use of "hoosier" in St. Louis, Missouri, where it is the favorite epithet of abuse. "When asked what a Hoosier is," Murray writes, "St. Louisans readily list a number of defining characteristics, among which are 'lazy,' 'slow-moving,' 'derelict,' and 'irresponsible.'" He continues, "Few epithets in St. Louis carry the pejorative connotations or the potential for eliciting negative responses that hoosier does." He conducted tests and interviews across lines of age and race and tabulated the results. He found the term ecumenically applied. He also noted the word was often used with a modifier, almost redundantly, as in "some damn Hoosier."
In a separate section Murray speaks of the history of the word and cites Baker and Carmony (1975) and speculates on why Hoosier (in Indiana a "neutral or, more often, positive" term) should remain "alive and well in St. Louis, occupying as it does the honored position of being the city's number one term of derogation." A radio broadcast took up where Murray left off. During the program Fresh Air, Geoffrey Nunberg, a language commentator, answered questions about regional nicknames. He cited Elaine Viets, a Post-Dispatch columnist (also quoted by Paul Dickson), as saying that in St. Louis a "Hoosier is a low-life redneck, somebody you can recognize because they have a car on concrete blocks in their front yard and are likely to have just shot their wife who may also be their sister."
I don't agree with the Elaine Viets description.  Are hoosiers murderers?  My definition is a more harmless one...annoying, sometimes crude yes, murdering thugs, no.  I also don't think hoosiers use their look and lifestyle to intimidate others.  I could be wrong.

So who is this Thomas Murray?  I must know more.  He wrote a book called: "The Language of St. Louis, Missouri: (American United Studies XIII, Linguistics, Vol 4) 1986".  So I went to my trusty public library website to order a copy of this book from the central stacks.  It was shipped to my local branch (Barr) and in my hands within 5 days.  Damn, we have a great library system...but anyhow, here's the book:
Now, I take issue with Murray's sampling methodology because he chose not to interview any black people.  His research was done in the 80s yet he didn't speak to one black person...ummm, did you know that 1/2 the city is made up of black people.  He explains the broad range of ethnicities:  southern blacks, Czechs, Italians, Dutch, Irish, German, French, Poles, etc.  but when he sampled the population he excluded blacks and he goes on to say that St. Louis is now populated "almost exclusively by blacks".  Huh?  Did this guy look at the demographics of St. Louis at all?  Here's the paragraph I'm referring to:
It becomes clear, then, that the linguist who wishes to study "the" language of St. Louis faces the problem of selecting informants that will not bias the final results of the study.  Rather than choosing equal numbers of each ethnic sub-population of the city, I elected to avoid "pure" informants as much as possible.  None of the ethnographic collecting of data reported above was done in strongly ethnic sections of the city, just as none of my other informants came from any but an ethnically mixed background.  Furthermore, because one of the requirements to be met by all non-phonological informants was that both they and their parents had to have lived in St. Louis all of their lives, all of my data come from the mouths of white speakers.  It is true that Inner St. Louis is now populated almost exclusively by blacks, but the vast majority were born in other parts of the country and then migrated to the Gateway City; thus, I could not, strictly speaking, label their speech "the language of St. Louis."
Am I missing something here?  St. Louis has never been almost exclusively populated by blacks and in the 1980's there are plenty of black families whose parents had lived in St. Louis their whole lives as did their progeny.

Aside from disagreeing with his sampling methodology, I also don't think there's much to gain from this book regarding the word hoosier:
66. PEJORATIVE TERM FOR A WHITE PERSON
Hillbilly occurs in the speech of one middle-class female over the age of 60, but the popular favorite in all other demographic cells in hoosier.
And:
68.  PEJORATIVE TERM FOR A BLACK PERSON
The two favorite in this semantic category are hoosier and [the n-word (sorry, I can't do it)].  Hoosier is preferred most often by members of the upper class except males between the ages of 20 and 40, middle-class males over 40 and middle-class females under 20 and 40 to 60, and lower-class males under 40.  Spook is used infrequently by members of each gender and socioeconomic class, hillbilly is reported by one middle-class and two lower-class males over the age of 40.
The book has some insight on other debatable words like crawdad vs. crayfish and soda vs. pop.

Anyhow, hoosier is a word that has a completely alternate meaning in St. Louis.  Enjoy it, use, it...we own this word.  It's ours.  Cherish it.

I'd love to hear your personal take on the word and where you first heard it and where you are from (please be specific on the last one i.e. Des Peres is not St. Louis).

29 comments:

  1. I'm from Southern Illinois (so far south that St. Louisians are northerners) by way of western Kentucky. Around here, I have heard a lot of dumb hoosier jokes (mostly predating the redneck series and of a similar feel) and, since we are a county away from being in Indiana, have also heard it said with pride.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Outstanding post! A true St. Louis hoosier is not a redneck or a hick or a hillbilly at all, but rather, urban white trash. There is a difference. Hoosiers would be just as out of their element in the country as any other citified person, yet they choose to embrace a socially uncouth lifestyle right here in the comforts of the big city/suburbs. Every city has 'em, but only one city calls 'em hoosiers!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ahhhh, this is great! My parents and I moved to St. Louis when I was 9, and I remember no one having to explain what a "hoosier" was, because somehow you just knew. Later when I moved to Indiana and tried to use hoosier as an insult they'd just look at me like, "Um...thanks?"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice pondering here Mark. I have to first question 7.5 miles from Belleville to St. Louis. Maybe if a crow flies a very straight line. Otherwise, it is about 16 miles. People from Belleville use the word "hoosier" because I have heard it my whole life along with all of the other terms to describe people who are different than oneself. I don't think there will be anyone who objects to you using the word hoosier except a "hoosier" himself. For instance, I dare you to go into one of those south St. Louis city bars and call someone a hoosier. See how they react. You should also wait to the individual has a few beers under his belt but that would be true research and airtight methodology.
    Louis C.K. said in one of his acts that "no one defends 'white trash'" and I haven't heard any evidence to the contrary. I won't do it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. ^Dan, I used google maps as my method to measure the distance from my house to city limits. But hey, Stooky Township isn't technically Belleville, so maybe I am embellishing a bit...My parents never used hoosier and my sister didn't either, just spoke to them recently about it. Spoke to a couple Belleville friends who said yes. You are in the latter my friend...maybe you Althoff hoosiers were just in the know :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I grew up in St. Louis county, born 1960. My dad also grew up in the county and never used the term.

    A couple of thoughts on the St. Louis use: 1) You don't call a woman a hoosier unless it's as part of a pack or family - the word always brings to mind a man. 2) A big beer gut is usually present. Beer swilling definitely goes hand in hand. A hoosier is drunk at every social occasion.

    Great to read about the Chrysler Plant connection. It probably explains why my dad didn't use it, since he was born in the 20's and didn't grow up with it. I wonder if old-timers can confirm the widespread use didn't start before then.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post!
    As a 20 something born and raised in south city, I have heard and used the term hoosier all my life. I completely agree that the term is synonymous with white trash. However, while it is a pejorative term, I would not consider it as demeaning as "white trash." Rather, I picture a hoosier as someone with a blue collar job who likes his sports, Budweiser, denim, and loves 'Merica. It could definitely be considered a form of urban white trash, but someone who is from lower class suburbs, not a rural area. In any case, I always enjoy the confused looks I get from people when I use the term outside of St. Louis.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Unbelievably outstanding post! Bravo

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ah the hoosiers of St. Louis. I've grown up in North County my whole life and we have our fair share of hoosiers. Mostly just middle aged men with mullets and back tattoos who work blue collar jobs and love beer. I think South City and county take the cake on hoosiers though. I don't particularly see it as an insult, but it is frequently used synonomously with "white trash" which I really don't like because it's perjorative for people of a certain class (it really has very little to do with race, but white people love to say it's a racial slur). I have very mixed feelings about the term. On one hand I hate that people who tend to look down on St. Louis do so because of said "hoosiers." On the other hand I don't really like to see middle aged mulleted men flashing they're back tattoos while I'm trying to watch a Cards game.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am a white female born in 1935 in South St. Louis City. I have heard the term 'hoosier' used all my life, especially by my Dad and knew instinctively what it meant. It did not mean 'blue collar' workers as my father was a laborer, an asbestos worker, and definitely NOT a hoosier. He was a responsible family man which most 'hoosiers' are not. Beer drinking is certainly involved but not necessarily a beer belly, although that may be attributable to an aging hoosier. I later came to understand that hoosiers were transplants from the Ark. Southern MO. border, people who lived on welfare, had facial hair, tattoos, and never dressed up. Simplistic but that was my perception. They were not quite 'white trash' but a step above that. And this term was definitely used in the 40's, in fact more then than now!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anon July 7, thanks for your comment, glad to hear your story. So, hoos has been used since the 40's in St. Louis. I think it goes deeper than the Chrysler plant in Fenton in the 50s too. That explanation seems too convenient or easily drawn back to the state of Indiana. I think hoos come more from the hills of Missouri and Cahokia than Indiana.

    ReplyDelete
  12. many other tattoos designs such as of tribal are wise choices .

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm from a big Italian family who lived many years in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood before moving to North St. Louis County. A "hoosier" is "Goober" on the old Andy Griffith show. In fact the whole cast were stone cold "hoosiers". Thus, if you want to know what a real "hoosier" is?, just tune in and watch the old Andy Griffith show. Many of these same type of people moved to the St. Louis area in the 1950's. The other posted comments explaining "hoosierism" are valid but I believe the definition I've given was the origin of the St. Louis "hoosier".

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm from the Jefferson County area, out here everyone knows what a hoosier is, and I've even heard it used by kids in elementary. Usually, it refers to white trash, and I've heard it used jokingly.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm from St. Louis the "hill" ..& a big Italian family. I am 47yrs old..and I don't believe hoosier refers mostly to men. Hoosiers are easy to spot, there may be clusters to a street or one family in a neighborhood or a whole neighborhood.."We would say "man he or she's a hoosier"...mainly b/c they had a couch on the front lawn maybe w/ a tv..they sit outside and drink beer & spit.
    But it can also mean..like "man their hoosiers"..b/c maybe their kids are dirty..or they just don't care or about manners..beer bellies..but cracks...women who wear halter tops torn up short jean short "sharts" & maybe tattoos..stragly hair ..& cusses a lot..laying out in the sun on their beat up faded out old broken down car..it always seemed to be a term like they were people who just don't care....but in my later years I've have known some good hoosiers..good people working & living & being content just the way they are...the truth is though...the neighborhood does start to go down when hoosiers move in..gotta love em. God does..so do I. Mark you speak like a true St. Louisan..you made me laugh...have you ever heard of the term the "bakousu"..& most St.Louis Italians use it when they gotta go to the bathroom...I gotta go to the bakousu..meaning bathroom b/c the bathrooms were in the back of the house..I looked it up on line & couldn't find any reference to a word many many people use....anyway I'd like to hear more from you about St. Louis my home town I really love...also on some of the real language of south St. louis " the hill" terms like "how yous all doin nanight" or "whered ya get dat" or "dis aint no hockey game dis is Church" I really tried to change some of my English...but to tell ya da truth honey, it's ingrained..its sort of a broken italian New York South St.Louis accent..very unique...nothing to do w/intellegence.Im sorry about the length & the grammer..my phone was limited. .God bl you & thanks for making me laugh..

    ReplyDelete
  16. I grew up in St Louis and have since moved away and realized that I can't use the term here in CA because no one will know what I'm talking about.

    One thing I've noticed is that there is a difference between a hoosier and a redneck. A redneck or hillbilly is usually just a country person, someone who doesn't fit in well in the city and who prefers country life. A hoosier can be found anywhere in the area but mostly in South City, Affton, Jefferson country, etc. They have evolved from being mullet sporting, Busch Light drinking Blues fans to just being general losers or meth heads. They usually have at least three cars in their driveway and 1-2 in the street--and only one works. Their kids toys are strewn all over the yard, their grass is never grown. There are 5 people living in a house but can hardly pay the rent. They don't know how to not speak slang and, as one friend told me, a hoosier is always waiting for their tax return so they can pay you back the money that they owe you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. And this is why I don't tell people I'm from Indiana.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This article was left incomplete. Loving respect for the demographic has grown through the years as is defined so clearly by the increased usage of the moniker, "Hooseoisie".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm from St. Louis & I've never heard of moniker or hooseoisie...what area do the people use these words??

      Delete
  19. Ah ha ha, this is great! I was born in a suburb of Indianapolis, and lived the first 20 years of my life there before moving to Colorado. I quickly became great friends with quite a few wonderful people whom has also moved to Colorado, but from St. Louis. I remember the first time I hear them talking about “Hoosiers”...the looks on their faces, and the context of the conversation, did not at all fit with the pride that I had always connect with being a Hoosier! I had never heard anything other than the Indiana version. It’s now been a long time running joke between us all, and to this day, almost 15 years later, they still speak of Hoosiers with a scowl, and I still have Hoosier pride! Go Hoosiers!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Skinny Gumbo MaloneJune 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    I'm 38 and grew up in South City. Hoosier for me and a lot of my friends has evolved over time. People may have called my family hoosiers because we were poor and lived in the city (and no denying my dad was one. He actually bathed in our galvanized pool and bbq'd shirtless, drinking busch beer, while scratching his chest and back with the spatula and tongs) But, there were even hooszier hoosiers than us that we considered real hoosiers. Now, as an adult,both my friends and I consider it a bit endearing of the culture we grew up in. It's the grit that makes us who we are. It's the refusal to take at least certain kinds of shit because we'll beat your ass, or at least be loud and chase you while we're threatening you. It means something else now. Sentimental, reminiscent, evoking. We were the lower class. The rich hoosiers lived in Lemay. We weren't the rich hoosiers. We yelled at tall haired girls for taking our boyfriends. The dads would fist fight then have a beer and become best friends. Cussing out the broken down car you were working on. I like to think about the good hoosier aspects. But there's no denying the shameful ones.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am a hoosier. My parents were hoosiers from generations ago. We eventually settled in north St. Louis in the 1950s which at that time was a mecca for hoosiers. There were Walnut Park Hoosiers, Baden hoosiers, Hyde Park hoosiers and hoosiers found in pockets throughout north St. Louis. We were a proud people who eventually made our way to Spanish lake in the 1960s were we easily fit into the new hoosierdom. We are dispersed now but somehow the hoosire will always live in us. I could have gone to Harvard and I would still be a hoosier. I have said enough cause I gotta go take a shit and get another beer.

    ReplyDelete
  22. The Article is quite correct! If you want to be a self respecting "Hoosier" and want to spend the rest of your life proving that it is plausible, don't tell anyone where you are coming from. Facts count. Who was this Thomas E. Murray anyway? Maybe he comes from Indiana? Seems possible.. but then, maybe he be related to me? Look for Winamac, for there he be!

    "Hoosier in denial"

    ReplyDelete
  23. I grew up in Southern Illinois (real SoIL, not Metro East) and was exclusively exposed to the Indiana understanding of the term in the early part of my life. This changed around age 25 when I met a girl at a bar after a Cardinals game and began an occasionally occurring physical relationship with her. I remember noticing her use of the word "hoosier" and had no clue what she was talking about. It was shortly after this that I moved to the Metro East and would find myself hanging among the natives in various bars around the city. From Wash Ave to Dogtown to Delmar I started to notice use of the word more and more, which prompted me to research it online. It has since become one of my favorite terms.

    About 2 years after moving to the area, I worked with a girl that was from Indiana. One particular customer would always refer to her as a "hoosier" and laugh. She had no idea what he really meant, and this was a source of great humour for me. I never told her.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I also thought I should add that I would venture to guess a lot of "hoosiers" come from outside of the metro area on both the Missouri and Illinois side as well as other similar areas (Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky). Thanks to the early years of the MLB in which the Cardinals were the western-most team and because KMOX could practically be heard across the country, the fanbase reaches a long way. These distant fans like to bring coolers of Milwaukee's Best, Miller High Life and Keystone Light, get hotel rooms off of Priceline and attend a weekend worth of games.

    ReplyDelete
  25. There are two kinds of hoozyers:
    Pure Hoosiers from Indiana. (Nothing more needed here.)
    And the locally recognized hoozyers in and around the St. Louis area.
    Which are the Worst Kind.
    Hoozyers are not red-necks from the Deep South.
    And they are not our own regionally grown Hillbillies from Southeast Missouri. However, Hoozyers are Hillbilly White Trash. That is, self-respecting Hillbillies look down upon Hoozyers.

    Because....Hoozyers are rude in behavior, unschooled in language, rough in dress, unschooled in language, unkempt in personal grooming, and otherwise lack all respect for established social norms. (Unlike regular Indianans and honest, polite Hillbillies that say, "Yes, Sir" and "Yes, Ma'am".

    Hoozyers are just not not nice people. You'll know them when you see and hear them.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Simply stated, a hoos is a person who lacks etiquette!
    They can be identified by their behavior, habits and values but not necessarily by their level of education, profession,zip code or financial status.

    Today's hoos has no problem with himself, is quite comfortable with his value system and when it comes to social graces, he has little consideration of societal norms or respect of others. It is perfectly acceptable for him to wear Levis to a wedding, not because it is a casual event, but because that is his preferred dress code. She may attend grandma's funeral wake wearing short shorts. Picking food from teeth when dining at a restaurant is totally acceptable behavior as is leaning back on the chair while rocking it. Blatantly farting in public is treated with a "hey,it's a bodily function, everyone farts, what's the big deal" attitude. Car floors are treated as trash cans.

    not to be confused with "being a hoos", which is usually a term used to poke at someone who is not actually considered a hoosier but displays some lack of etiquette or a slob behavior.

    I was born and raised in South St. Louis city. I love urban living! Back in the day, a typical Southside Hoosier was a product of their family environment, usually a member of a working class family, residing in a South City neighborhood(often in an area with state or number street names). This culture was unique.

    Like other cultures, Southside hoosiers had a "language" they all knew and understood. By others, it often translated as trouble with proper pronunciation and correct word usage...for instance a sink was often called a zinc or zink. But to another Southsider, they knew zink was sink, the thing where you washed your dishes and bathed the babies!

    Certain habits were deemed socially acceptable...He would walk around the house in his boxer shorts no matter who was present-visitors beware! She kept her cash tucked in her bra and had no shame in fishing around to retrieve a buck or two as needed. (Now she keeps her phone & cash tucked in her bra; excuse me miss, you're boob is ringing!)

    A bit uneducated in Social graces, not perfect in use of the English language, but living life was about getting through the day, living it the way they knew...real, passionate, loud and verbal. Shouting was not considered emotional abuse, it was merely a way to reign in the kids for dinner or get them to stop mischief. Much of the "hoosier" behavior stemmed from this lack of education in proper life etiquette.

    Often residents of other city neighborhoods gave the name hoosier to what we Southsiders called White Trash. There is no like comparison. White Trash is at the far, far end of the hoosier spectrum. This lowest class has a total lack of respect for themselves, their environment or the world around them and it translates to how they think, act, dress,live and treat others.
















    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh Wow! Thank you! I'm from Central NY by birth and grew up in and around STL. No one ever understands when I say Hoosier. I see that you do and it is so refreshing.

    I currently live in Pittsburgh and here too they have a relative called Yinzer. Now, Yinzer folk look the same and even have "evolved" some of the same characteristics that the STL Hoos has but they have a dialect of their own. I don't recall any Hoosierisms. Are there any?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Moved to Indianapolis for a job, but before I did, my banker in Milwaukee, who was from St. Louis, laughingly clued me in to what they thought a "hoosier" was. Boy, was I surprised when I got down here and found out it's pretty accurate for 75% of the population anyway! Lot's of x-pats from other states, that I met up with (we all hate it here), but one told me he heard a "Hoosier" was a drunk hillbilly from Kentucky or Tennessee that got lost on their way to Detroit! Fits...

    ReplyDelete