homepage logo

Growing up out Proctor: Ginny the Kid Magnet and Master of the Wetzel County Vernacular

By Gary Eller - | Sep 1, 2021

My mother Virginia Louise (Frohnapfel) Eller (1923-2011) was better known as Ginny, Aunt Ginny, and Gramma Ginny. Mom was the ninth of twelve children born to Grandpa T. J. Frohnapfel and Gramma Anna (Estep) Frohnapfel at their farm on Ohio River bottom land a few miles north of Proctor. Ten of these children lived to adulthood.

Mom married my dad in 1946 after he returned from World War II in the Pacific and they lived at T. J.s place until 1951. I was born in 1947 and brother Fred a year later. Chuck was born in 1940 before my Mom and Dad met. In 1951, we moved into the house Pap built on part of the Charles A. Eller (Pap’s father) homestead four miles out Proctor, where Mom and Pap would live for about forty years.

In 1951, Grandpap retired and sold his farm to Mobay Chemical Company and moved with us into the new house.

Mom loved little kids and was a magnet for them. For endless hours with young relatives, neighbors, and acquaintances, she would play cards and jacks, do simple crafts, show them how to sew, make cookies, work jigsaw puzzles, tip green beans, etc.

Even late in her life when she was living in Steelton, neighborhood kids flocked to her porch.

Often the kids simply hung around to talk, but often there were enticements such as games, homemade cookies, fudge or doughnuts.

The kids in Steelton were probably awestruck watching Mom trying to clobber pigeons with a broom when they were stealing from her bird feeder. You didn’t want to be near Mom when she was in the pigeon-killing mode!

When my wife Teri and daughters Audrey and Rachel came with me from New Mexico to visit Gramma Ginny, they were intrigued by her colorful vernacular that was completely new to them. Examples are “Out Proctor” (out the road from Proctor), “armbidextrous” (can use both hands), “double-heeped” (too much weight in the butt), “resternt” (where you go to eat), “punkins” (you make pie and jack o’lanterns from these), and “retarred” (no longer working). The Wetzel County dialect added to the fun when my family visited.

Later I learned that some of her archaic words and phrases were carryovers from common middle English language from the 1500s and 1600s.