Posted in family, friends, humor, people

Syphilis Jister

1950s Syphilis Jister. Source: www.

Sorry to disappoint you but this is not about some sexually transmitted disease. It’s about words people make up. Carry on.

My husband and his life-long friend, Doug, still speak some bizarre language that they started creating when they were five and met in kindergarten. The most peculiar words I’ve ever heard from them are “syphilis jister,” which in their language means TV Guide. Who knows? It’s not worth asking because they’d have no idea when, why or how they came up with it.

Likewise, my husband and his three siblings (now in their 60s) still get wet-your-pants giggly when one of them pinches their own nose closed and says, “hiney pinky, hiney pinky.” If you’re old enough to remember department stores with announcement systems (beside “blue light special in aisle three”), you’ll remember the ping of a bell and a nice female voice announcing someone’s name – a manager or such. My husband says he and his sisters and brother always thought the woman was saying “hiney pinky.”

May Co. at Lakewood Center in the 1950s. I can hear “hiney pinky” now! Source: Hades1981 (flicker)

At the risk of exposing too much more weirdness about my husband, he is also famous for making up lyrics to songs and being around him at Christmas is particularly amusing. You don’t even want to know what’s away in that manger.

My younger sister was about five when she walked out of a Baptist church we were visiting and asked, “Mommy, why were those people yelling ‘ham and eggs’?” I’m still not sure what she was hearing, maybe hallelujah?

That same sister was famous for making up lyrics (probably why she and my husband get along so well). Many of hers were silly nonsensical stuff she thought she heard, like “Homb, Homb on derange, where the deer and the angelope pray, where steldom is heard on a scurading word and the skies are not cloudies all day!”

Source: Ward & Ava at

But others were just her made up songs. She loved to sing and when my dad fired up his reel-to-reel recorder so he could make tapes of us singing and telling stories, my sister really lit up. She would make up tune, words, and tempo and “sing” a story. My favorite of these was “These are the things what I like: books and jacks and toys and cats and . . . .”  She’d be looking around the room for other stuff to name, humming and mumbling as a bridge while deciding what to add to the list. If she got lost, she’d just start all over.

Those are the tapes that make me laugh till I cry! They came in handy years later, too, after I’d transferred them to cassettes. She and her husband (NPS employees) were being transferred to another park to work and I planned a huge going away party for them. One of the tapes I played during the dinner hour was one of my sister’s versions of “these are the things what I like”!!

Do you have made up words that make you smile?

PS, you should see the “recommended tags” I got for this one. Does everyone have a dirty mind?? And, before you leave a comment, be sure to uncheck that foul little box that says you want to read everything anyone has ever written and you want it all to show up in your email inbox. You’ll thank me later.



I'm a writer making my way through life and offering observations as I go. Old enough to know better but that doesn't stop me.

9 thoughts on “Syphilis Jister

  1. We didn’t make up all that many, but we carried them into this old age. One of the favorites is “Sisty Ugler” from the 1950’s (?) comedy record. I should look it up, but I’m lazy. Oh, yeah, thanks for the PS! I wondered why I was being inundated!

    1. I remember “sisty ugler”!! My sister and I called each other that for years. Wasn’t it some comedy piece on the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella?

  2. I love that we don’t grow up. Not really, anyway. Silliness should never be a trait to give up, and apparently your husband hasn’t. 🙂

  3. When I was a kid my father would say to me “Excusez-moi” but I thought it was a made up pet name for me and he was saying “Excuse Emma”!

    1. Thank you, Emma! I appreciate the thought, but I’ve already received it. Never hurts, however, to hear that someone thinks you deserve it! Again, thanks!

Tell me what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s