Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A lost word from my childhood.

It snowed today.  Not a rare occurrence in my neck of the woods, but it was the kind of snow that got left on the side streets and the town cleared just the main highways.  I had a tickling at the back of my brain that this day would be perfect for something, but the image wouldn't fully emerge.  I stayed in and caught up on some projects, and it was later in the day when I found myself on our family website, that a post from my brother Ace, helped me complete the image.

Note the air hose on the ground.
     He had posted a note simply entitled "Remember" where he recalled sounds and smells from his youth and sadly some of them no longer exist. The one that stood out for him was the sound of a bell as you pulled into a gas station.  There used to be an air hose stretched across the driveway and it dinged a bell inside when a car drove over it.  The attendants would spring into action at it's sound, just like Pavlov's dogs.  They would wash your windows, check your oil and tire pressure, and pump the gas for you. Back then we called that "Customer Service".  I don't think it exists anymore.  Back to the point.....

  
The snow covered side streets and my brother's reminiscing, cleared the image up for me that I had been struggling with.  The word I was missing was "pogi".  It's other forms were "pogied" and "pogiing" (I just had to add them all to my dictionary to remove the red edit squiggles, which made me sad).  What?  You don't know these words?  It's kinda the point of this blog, but I'll help you out and use them in a sentence....

     We pogied our way to St. Mary's School this am. 
     We've been pogiing all morning and we never got caught.
     Why walk when you can pogi?

Parents holding, helmet, knee pads, elbow pads emergency backpack.
What?  Still nothing?  Tough crowd.  All right, the term, as it applied in my youth, was a verb meaning " to grab the bumper of a car, usually one stopped at an intersection, and to slide behind it on a snow covered street as a means of transportation".  You got extra points if it was a bus.  Oops, I forgot to warn people that this blog contained "dangerous" ideas.  My bad.  I haven't seen anyone pogi in a couple of decades, but look at where we have come in that time, seat belts, car seats, air bags, cameras for backing up (this would have screwed us in any pogiing attempt on a car), electric outlet covers, knee pads, elbow pads, bike helmets, childhood obesity to cushion our falls, the list goes on and on.  I got yelled at one time for calling a "Chinese Fire Drill" in a stopped car full of teens.  I was told that it was dangerous, but weird, all of them survived and were laughing their asses off when they got back in.  I feel a little racist in this blog now, because I  posted a picture of over-protective Asian parents and used the term "Chinese Fire Drill" right after it.  I hope my Asian audience will forgive me, but I digress.....

    So how did we pogi? We generally started out for school a little early.  You would think that it would be faster to pogi than to walk, but you had to wait for the right opportunity.  There were 2 or 3 stop signs on our walk to St. Mary's and that is where you could catch a car.  Your brothers or sisters would distract the driver while you snuck behind the car and grabbed onto the bumper.  The car would then take off with you and your Millbrook wrapper stuffed boots in tow (The Millbrook bread wrappers helped keep your socks dry if you ended up with a split or a hole in your boot).
The summer version of pogiing
You then just held on until you strategically decided to exit the
ride.  A car closing in from behind would be a valid reason to let go of the bumper.  If the car accelerated over 30 mph, that would be another reason.  A police car anywhere in the vicinity, yeah you would bail for that.  Once you let go, you tried to keep going as far as you could slide on the snow covered streets.  Eventually friction would slow your momentum and your pogi was done.  Points were awarded for the length of the ride, if you could stay on around a turn and how graceful your dismount was.  The picture on the right was the closest thing I could find on the whole World Wide Web to kids pogiing, adding further proof that the word and activity are both out of existence or at least since Al Gore invented the internet.  I asked some friends at a party this weekend if they knew the term, and no one did, except for one other person that had graduated from St. Mary's in Cdga (way to represent,  Jen Mapes Green).  I was beginning to think the whole thing was just a delusion until she confirmed and then told me the meaning of the word. I know I'll lose it someday, I was just relieved it wasn't that day. 

     After a successful pogi, you had to tell the story to your classmates, and of course the ride got longer, faster, more epic and dangerous, with each telling.  I personally went over a mile one time, going 75, with 4 cop cars chasing me, and my boots on fire. I could melt some Millbrook bread wrappers to prove it if you need me to. 

So that's my lost word and activity.  I would invite you all to comment with your own lost experiences, and words that you used to hear, but no longer do.  Tell me if this blog sparked a childhood memory of your own.  Share this post to your Facebook or e-mail it to your friends and see what the reaction is.


  I'd love to have more people confirm the existence of the word pogi, hey who knows, maybe it will even make a comeback? Well, maybe not. 




11 comments:

Christine Wilson-Simonson said...

Ah Bill, again the tales you tell stir up images of my childhood long forgotten...We did have, it seemed to me, a language all our own. As kids we would mock our parents for the use of the words 'Groovy'...'Far out'..and 'Radical'..and today I roll my eyes at the billionth time I have heard my daughter describe something as 'Epic'..or 'major fail'...Ive always enjoyed that we could completely twist a word into meaning something so far from its original meaning that our parents carried dictionarys just to keep up....
*My dad to my Mom*:.." What the hell did she say?"
From Madonnas coining of 'Boy Toy' to the term boinking ( I still don't know what that means)I traded being a DINK.(dual income no kids) to being a dweeb..so like, I think your Blog is like wicked to he max.....lets do lunch..

Regina said...

Willie,as I tell Adriana all the time those were truly THE GOOD OL' DAYS! Great story

Daphne Mays said...

Will need more chocolate to wake my brain up this morning to come up with words no longer used, but you need to know that pogiing is not dead. Kids still do it in Alaska. Alaska is in some ways like NY was when we grew up. People die from doing dangerous things and it is just part of life. If you play dangerous games up there they figure you're taking your own chances and by golly you'd better not bother to sue someone for your own choices. Golly. That's probably a word not used any more.

Tom Schoenthaler said...

I do remember it being called Pogiing (probably by you while bragged about our childhood antics). We always called it skeetching. Cars were one mode of transportation. A rope tied to the sissy bar of a bike worked although that usually ended in two people laying in the middle of the street. We also used snowmobiles to skeetch. I think more injuries came from snowmobiles than any other.

torcon said...

Uhhhhh Bill....just so you know, when I viewed this page it was officially "Page View 6,666" - dude that's spooky...

Bill said...

@Tor - Sorry, the devil made me do it.

Anonymous said...

Around here we called it Skid-hopping.. dangerous but fun!

Anonymous said...

It was a great thrill and we never thought of the danger, just the fun. Barrel rolling down the hill at Sonnenburg park was another ride not to be missed, especially if you ended up air born. Now I would never crawl in and or ball up in a metal garbage barrel. Cage hopping on one ride at Roseland was another dangerous amusement. Who ever came up with these crazy blood pumping challenges that we all just had to try???!!!
Meter Maid

Bill said...

@ Meter Maid
Something just makes me chuckle that you now identify yourself as such. Love you.

Rob Hovey said...

I can still remember pogiing around the bus circle at the Canandaigua Primary school after 7th grade basketball practice. Interestingly enough, my Dad would actually OFFER to pull me and my teammates around the circle behind his 1976 Ford Maverick. Great times.

Anonymous said...

Wicked men obey from fear; good men from love.