Thursday March 11, 2004

You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania

My sister sent me this quiz;

You Know You're From (or In) Pennsylvania If:

  • You've never referred to Philadelphia as anything but "Philly." And New Jersey has always been "Jersey."
  • You refer to Pennsylvania as "PA" (pronounced Peeay). How many other states do that?
  • You know what "Punxsutawney Phil" is, and what it means if he sees his shadow.
  • The first day of buck and the first day of doe season are school holidays.
  • You can use the phrase "fire hall wedding reception" and not even bat an eye.
  • You can't go to a wedding without hearing the "Chicken Dance," at least 1 Polka and either an Italian song (sung in Italian,) or "Hava Nagila."
  • At least 5 people on your block have electric "candles" in all or most of their windows all year long.
  • You know what a "Hex sign" is.
  • You know what a "State Store" is, and your out of state friends find it incredulous that you can't purchase liquor at the mini-mart.
  • You own only three condiments "salt, pepper and Heinz ketchup".
  • Words like "hoagie", "chipped ham", "sticky buns", "shoo-fly pie", "pierogies" "gobs", "gum bands", "pop", and "pocketbook"actually mean something to you.
  • You can eat cold pizza (even for breakfast) and know others who do the same. (Those from NY find this "barbaric".)
  • You not only have heard of Birch Beer, but you know it comes in several colors: Red, White, Brown, Gold.
  • You know several places to purchase or that serve Scrapple, Summer Sausage (Lebanon Bologna), and Hot Bacon Dressing.
  • You can eat a cold soft pretzel from a street vendor without fear and enjoy it.
  • You know the difference between a cheese steak &a pizza steak sandwich and know that you can't get a really good one outside PA.
  • You live for summer, when street and county fairs signal the beginning of funnel cake season.
  • Customers ask the waitress for "drippy eggs" for breakfast.
  • You know that Blue Ball, Intercourse, Climax, Bird-in-Hand, Beaver, Moon, Virginville, Paradise, Mars, and Slippery Rock are PA towns.
  • You know what a township, borough, and commonwealth is.
  • You can identify drivers from New York, New Jersey, Ohio,or other neighboring states by their unique and irritating driving habits.
  • A traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a horse-drawn carriage on the highway in Lancaster County.
  • You know several people who have hit deer more than once.
  • You carry jumper cables in your car and your female passengers know how to use them.
  • You still keep kitty litter, starting fluid, de-icer, or a snow brush in your trunk, even if you live in the south.
  • Driving is always better in winter because the potholes are filled with snow.
  • As a kid you built snow forts and leaf piles that were taller than you were.
  • Your graduating class consisted of mostly Polish, German, &Italian names.
  • "You guys" and "ynz" is a perfectly acceptable reference to a group of men &women.
  • You know how to respond to the question "Djeetyet?" (Didyoueatyet?)
  • You learned to pronounce Bryn Mawr, Wilkes-Barre, Schuylkill, Bala Cynwyd, Conshohocken, and Monongahela.
  • You know what a "Mummer" is, and are disappointed if you can't catch at least highlights of the parade.
  • You actually understand these jokes and send them on to other Pennsylvanians...Plus friends who you want to know -- why you think the way you do !


There are actually "several Pennsylvanias". Even though PA is not large by western US standards, it's a pretty big eastern state and different parts have a very different feel (and vocabulary). There's Pittsburg and Philly, State College, Erie, Lancaster County... and more; there's city and farm country and small towns; they're all a bit different. I think this quiz was created by someone from Philly; it has a decidedly southeastern-PA feel to it.

My Mom adds:

Pennsylvania is made up of many different communities. Some of the coal areas have a heavy Polish, Slavic, and/or Italian ancestery. I'm real Penna Dutch because my ancesters came to Pennsylvania in the 1700's. We spoke German when we came and corrupted it with English and Sweedish words. We're not the plain people (Amish and Mennonite) who came a bit later and who even now use German in their family speech and their church services. We Pa Dutch have a different "twang" to our speech. In fact my Dad had to speak English to Jake Peachy because he didn't do Pa Dutch and my Dad didn't do real German. But they made good vanilla ice cream and served it in dishes like mashed potatoes and then you laddeled it into your own dish and poured Hershey syrup on it.

Your Dad's Grandmother's family came from Germany when she was a tiny child and everyone thinks that the Brown side of the family was probably English though [your aunt] wants them to be Welsh.

My sister and I grew up in State College, PA (that's pronounced State College PeeAy), the geographical center of the state. It's also home to Penn State University (whch has an excellent graduate school), so we have a lot of "immigrants" from elsewhere in the state, the country, and the world.

  • You've never referred to Philadelphia as anything but "Philly." And New Jersey has always been "Jersey."

    True for Philly; false for New Jersey.

  • You refer to Pennsylvania as "PA" (pronounced Peeay). How many other states do that?

    I do, but only in certain contexts, as in "I'm from State College PA, in the middle of Pennsylvania".

  • You know what "Punxsutawney Phil" is, and what it means if he sees his shadow.

    Everybody knows that these days (especially if they've watched the movie Groundhog Day). But can they pronounce Punxsutawney? Do they know where it is?

  • The first day of buck and the first day of doe season are school holidays.

    Yep. (A friend of mine says he only remembers buck season).

  • You can use the phrase "fire hall wedding reception" and not even bat an eye.

    I wouldn't bat an eye, but we didn't have these in State College. My Mom says "Lots of wedding receptions are held in the fire stations in smaller towns because its the only public place that is big enough sometimes. The fireman pull out the trucks and they move the tablesand chairs in from a church basement. (Can't serve liquor in the church basement)"

  • You can't go to a wedding without hearing the "Chicken Dance," at least 1 Polka and either an Italian song (sung in Italian,) or "Hava Nagila."

    Not in State College. Apparently so in the eastern end of the state.

  • At least 5 people on your block have electric "candles" in all or most of their windows all year long.

    My mother says this is true.

  • You know what a "Hex sign" is.

    Absolutely; my favorite is the Distelfink (The Distelfink is a lovely bird; its song's not loud nor is it heard; but it's our friend a voice or not... (I never can remember the last line :-/)

  • You know what a "State Store" is, and your out of state friends find it incredulous that you can't purchase liquor at the mini-mart.

    Yep; It was quite a shock to move to California and find hard liquor in the grocery store.

  • You own only three condiments "salt, pepper and Heinz ketchup".

    And it's definitely Heinz ketchup, too! But don't forget French's Mustard and Horseradish! And from my mother: "They forgot that in lots of PA houses there is some kind of sour vegetable on the table at every meal, like chow chow, pickled beets or pepper cabbage."

  • Words like "hoagie", "chipped ham", "sticky buns", "shoo-fly pie", "pierogies" "gobs", "gum bands", "pop", and "pocketbook"actually mean something to you.

    Don't forget "soda". In State College "pop" and "soda" were interchangeable; one's from the east, the other from the west, and they meet in the middle. My sister and I didn't recognize "gobs"; Mom says "Gobs are what we here in Central Pa call Whoopie Pies". She also added pot pie to the list, "I had ham pot pie for lunch and it wasn't baked in an oven". Betcha don't know what chow-chow is either ;-)

  • You can eat cold pizza (even for breakfast) and know others who do the same. (Those from NY find this "barbaric".)

    Nah, cold pizza is just College student food; Pennsylvanians eat pie for breakfast. I prefer pumpkin if possible. Mom said "My Grandfather ate left-over pie for breakfast almost everyday of his life. He like wet-bottom shoo fly."

  • You not only have heard of Birch Beer, but you know it comes in several colors: Red, White, Brown, Gold.

    I had never heard of gold or brown; a friend recognized all but brown. My favorite is red, although white comes real close. Mom says, "I think that Gold is actually very pale, almost clear and yes it does come looking just like root beer (brown). But red is best." I miss Birch Beer.

  • You know several places to purchase or that serve Scrapple, Summer Sausage (Lebanon Bologna), and Hot Bacon Dressing.

    Sigh! I can get these by mail order. I have a recipe for scrapple... Also, my mother confirmed what I thought was true —real Summer Sausage is not Lebanon Bologna.

  • You can eat a cold soft pretzel from a street vendor without fear and enjoy it.

    I'm sure I could but I never have; I prefer the big hard ones! Mom tells me that soft pretzels are a Philadelphia thing (more proof the quiz originated down there).

  • You know the difference between a cheese steak &a pizza steak sandwich and know that you can't get a really good one outside PA.

    My friend says you can't get a good cheese steak outside of Philly :-) I wouldn't know; I've never really been "into" these. Mom says "When I went to Kutztown and when we first came to State College if you ordered a cheese steak it was thin pieces of steak served on a long thick, crisp on the outside, bun with fried or grilled onions and peppers and a red marina sauce and melted cheese. Now its hard to find a cheese steak with sauce although you can request sauce at CC Peppers."

  • You live for summer, when street and county fairs signal the beginning of funnel cake season.

    Yum. We actually have a funnel cake booth that comes to some of the craft fairs in the SF Bay Area! They sell authentic funnel cakes (although I don't think offering chocolate syrup is traditional). Mom says that, personally, she and Dad look forward to carnival pizza.

  • Customers ask the waitress for "drippy eggs" for breakfast.

    That's dippy eggs, without the r!

  • You know that Blue Ball, Intercourse, Climax, Bird-in-Hand, Beaver, Moon, Virginville, Paradise, Mars, and Slippery Rock are PA towns.

    My mom recently told me about some mysteries by Tamar Meyers that are set in the fictional town of Hernia, PA; it sounds real enough to me :-)

  • You know what a township, borough, and commonwealth are.

    True. And according to my mother, there are only a few commonwealths in the US and in lots of places its a "town" not a "township". State College is a borough.

  • You can identify drivers from New York, New Jersey, Ohio,or other neighboring states by their unique and irritating driving habits.

    Well, one can always identify out-of-state drivers anywhere. In DC, one identifies those from the north vs those from the south by the way they treat snow. In Boston, one identifies local drivers by their "unique and irritating driving habits" :-)

  • A traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a horse-drawn carriage on the highway in Lancaster County.

    My friend recalls that it "used to be that 5 was the point at which they had to pull over and let traffic pass. Maybe that law changed since I left."

  • You know several people who have hit deer more than once.

    Including my Mom and Dad ("Well, actually, your Dad and I have hit two deer in PA. And one was dead as a doornail.") and my friend's father as well. One can do that here on the SF peninsula too; mule deer are cute, dumb as a stump, and have NO fear.

  • You carry jumper cables in your car and your female passengers know how to use them.

    Still do.

  • You still keep kitty litter, starting fluid, de-icer, or a snow brush in your trunk, even if you live in the south.

    Not when you live in California; Mom says they only carry an ice scraper.

  • Driving is always better in winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

    But in spring... Mom says "now everything has melted and some of the holes could swallow a little car."

  • As a kid you built snow forts and leaf piles that were taller than you were.

    Oh, yes... what memories those are!

  • Your graduating class consisted of mostly Polish, German, &Italian names.

    Not in State College; we've always been international, even more so today. When I was in third grade we had a student new from Norway and another whose parents were Greek, not to mention German, Italian, English.... My Mom's current Brownie Troop features names like Covasa, Goeke, Jo, Kuietauskas, Rodriguez, Sullivan, Yezhova and Zhou.

  • "You guys" and "ynz" is a perfectly acceptable reference to a group of men &women.

    As my friend points out, "guys" has made it into the dictionary as a gender-free pronoun (Merriam-Webster - 1 : PERSON -- used in plural to refer to the members of a group regardless of sex). Can I stop explaining that now?

  • You know how to respond to the question "Djeetyet?" (Didyoueatyet?)

    I know how but we didn't talk like that.

  • You learned to pronounce Bryn Mawr, Wilkes-Barre, Schuylkill, Bala Cynwyd, Conshohocken, and Monongahela.

    All but Bala Cynwyd and Conshohocken (Mom and my friend both confirm these are near Philly —see, I told you! :-) As for pronunciation, don't forget Lock Haven (accent on Lock), DuBois and Bellefonte, among others, of course.

  • You know what a "Mummer" is, and are disappointed if you can't catch at least highlights of the parade.

    Another Philly-centric question; Mom says the Mummers are "the guys that dress up in the fancy costumes on New Years Day and parade in Philly. They have banjo bands." Oh; OK.

You actually understand these jokes and send them on to other Pennsylvanians...Plus friends who you want to know -- why you think the way you do !

So, there you have it.

Pass the scrapple, please.

You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania ( in category Random Thoughts ) - posted at Thu, 11 Mar, 10:03 Pacific | «e»