Mountain Talk

Having been inspired during my senior year in high school by a young basketball coach, a recent graduate of North Georgia College, I decided to attend North Georgia College, a military school. I had no idea how difficult military discipline could be, but I adjusted and received my bachelor's degree after four very challenging years.

North Georgia College is located in Dahlonega, Georgia at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia. At the time I attended school there, Dahlonega was not commercialized as it is today. It was just a small mountain town whose residents were dependent mostly on the college for their livelihood. During my four years there I became acquainted with many of the town folks. They all seemed to be extremely frank and honest, unpretentious, kind, and respectful of others. Although I talk with a southern drawl, they had a dialect of their own which was even difficult for me to understand at first. For the word “fire” they said “far”, for “tire” they said “tar”. They called a paper sack a “poke” because you poked things into it . They talked about “you’ens” and “us’ens”. They had a lot of expressions that would not be understood unless you were from that area. After living there for four years, I learned to understand them quite well.

After graduating from North Georgia College I went to the University of Georgia to Work on a Masters Degree in Mathematics. Here I met Joan, my future wife. One Sunday afternoon soon after meeting Joan, I took her for a sightseeing drive up into the North Georgia Mountains. It was in the fall of the year and the leaves were unbelievably beautiful. After a long ride on the winding mountain roads we came upon an ice cream store. There was a huge sign on top of the store portraying a polar bear with neon lights flashing around him. It was a warm afternoon and a crowd of what appeared to be mostly local folks had formed a long line. Leaving Joan in the car, I joined the line. As I got near the window where orders were being placed, I could hear many of them asking for a “polar bar.” Understanding how these people talked, when my turn came, I placed my order for two “polar bears.”

The young girl at the window asked, “What’s that again?”

“Two polar bears, please.” I repeated.

The workers looked at each other.

“What does he want?” asked one of the other workers.

The young girl with amusement in her voice said, “He wants two polar bears.”

While all this was going on, I read the menu sign overhead, “POLAR BAR -10¢.”

“That’s two polar bars.” I corrected.

The young lady shook her head and sold me two ice cream bars. I quickly headed back to my car as those in the line turned to get another look at me.