DAVID CARROLL: Of Ooltewah, SEC football, “leggins,” and so much more
A few days ago, some of my co-workers had a friendly debate on how to pronounce “Ooltewah.” For many years, I pronounced it with the “L” sound, as in “OOL-tuh-wah.” Then someone, I can’t remember who, convinced me the “L” was silent. So I started saying “Ooo-tuh-wah.” That’s how I’ve said it for the past 20 years or so. So I posed the question, on Facebook and Twitter. I knew my social media friends would settle the issue for me, once and for all.
Now I’m more confused than ever. Of those who expressed a preference, 90 people said, “Pronounce the L.” 72 said, “Do not say the L sound.” A slight majority want to hear the L, but it’s hard to ignore those who say, “Get the L out of there,” or words to that effect.
According to Wikipedia, Ooltewah is derived from a Cherokee Native American word meaning “owl’s nest.” If that’s true, I would lean toward pronouncing the L, since you can’t say “owl” without it.
However, read this story from an unidentified 1890 newspaper:
Now if you believe this version, you would pronounce it without the L, right?
To confuse things even further, a website called chenocetah.wordpress.com, describing itself as a site with Cherokee place names, has this to say: “Ooltewah, Tennessee, stands about where the Cherokee settlement of Ultiwo’i was. The meaning is unknown and does not appear to have been originally a Cherokee word.”
As you can see, there’s definitely an L in Ultiwo’i. Facebook friend Debra Fisher adds: “It comes from the Cherokee “Ultiwah.”
Meanwhile, my Facebook friends point out that even celebrities struggle with Ooltewah. President Ronald Reagan, during a visit to Chattanooga in the 1980s, reportedly called it “OH-tuh-wah.” Today Show weatherman Al Roker famously called the Ooltewah High band “Ool-TAH-wah” during a recent New Years parade. And CBS college football announcer Verne Lundquist said one hometown athlete hailed from “Ool-tuh-WAY” High School.
Clearly, there’s more than one way to spell, define and interpret Ooltewah. You say tomato, I say to-mah-to. Well, actually I say “mater.” Going forward, I have decided to continue saying Ooltewah without the L sound. I know, that puts me in the minority of my own poll, but it was unofficial, and awfully close. And by the way, I failed to include those who suggested “Hooterville.” Although I suspect owls would really go for that.
(By the way, I was also recently asked what “Amnicola” means, as in Chattanooga’s Amnicola Highway. I will admit that when I was younger, I figured it might have something to do with the Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola bottling plants on that highway. I wasn’t even close. It turns out that Amnicola is a Latin word, translated as “dwelling by the river or bank of the river.” According to various sources, land owner Thomas Crutchfield gave that name to his plantation after the Civil War.)
At some point, we’ll have to examine the pronunciations for Whut-well, La-fet, Bledsaw County, Sappitchburg and Murville. Y’all know where these towns are?
That’s enough history for now, here are some other topics for your information and amusement: I hate the word “loser,” especially when someone uses it as a slur against another person. So I have to admit, it makes me laugh when someone on Facebook does it, spelling it “looser.” I guess that makes them a…well, you know.
If all the presidents from the past 80 years could have a dinner party together, it might look something like this (from Esquire magazine). Can you name them all? You’ll notice there’s only one sad sack in the whole group.
Singer Billy Joe Royal died recently at the age of 73. He had some big 1960s hits like “Down In The Boondocks” and “Cherry Hill Park” that still get played on some radio stations. I recently found a 1970 clip from the Ed Sullivan Show, featuring Royal, Joe South and Tommy Roe performing their various hits. This is fun to watch!
Radio sure was fun back when these guys were scoring all those hits. It was long before radio stations started running 10 commercials in a row. Those were the days.
If you’re a sports fan, you’ve surely seen those ridiculous post-game press conferences with cliche-spouting coaches and athletes. Watch Weird Al’s version. He nailed it, having a little fun with the media, too.
Speaking of sports, Scooter Magruder has compiled a minute’s worth of things SEC football fans say. Watch:
Finally, Jamie Higdon Randolph from Cleveland, Tennessee posted a video rant about ladies who wear “leggins,” and it has gone viral. In case you missed it:
(From David Carroll's ChattanoogaRadioTV.com)