Some more additions to the vocabulary |

Some more additions to the vocabulary

Kelli Du Fresne

A while back I added a few words and phrases to my vocabulary. They included scarifer, graveyard stew and grass widow.

A few readers called in to help me better understand the words and the meanings. Since then I’ve come up with a few more.

One is Mexican combat boots. Charlie says that’s what he used to call sandals when he was younger. My dad always called them Jesus slippers.

Other new words include pothops and bullconn. A pothop is what people in Jackpot used to call change people in the casino, Charlie said, because they were the ones who “hop over to pay the pot.”

Bullconn was a word Jerry McHugh’s grandmother used to say. She lived in Utah and it was a word she used in place of bullpucky, only the one usually spelled with an “s.” “When my mother heard me say it, she’d go right through the roof,” said McHugh, who has lived in Carson City for more than 30 years.

One reader left me a message for scarifer back in February. She hit the answer dead center, but didn’t leave a name or number.

She said “I think scarifer is a word like a lot in the past that was spelled phonetically. I believe this was something my grandfather may have used when he was using a horse to garden with and it is kind of an item you drag behind a horse or other vehicle.

“It was something like a harrow that would clear the ground and it would pull up items like weeds and barbed wire and that kind of stuff.”

In the original story, a man had died in a wreck with his scarifer.

The reader said, “obviously this one ran into something embedded in the ground and instead of pulling it up it flipped it up into the truck and killed the guy. They were dangerous because they had very long metal teeth.”

Graveyard stew sounds worse than it is. Though I guess if you were ill, the name might scare you into getting well sooner.

Susan Borda called to say she’s made her husband graveyard stew on occasion.

“When I married my husband and he was ill, I fixed him milk toast with honey on it and brought it because it was what my mother always used to fixed us children.

“He took one look at it and told me it was graveyard stew and informed me it was what you fixed when you were sick or dying.

“I’d never heard it described that way. I like milk toast or honey toast, especially when it’s describe that way.”

I think I’d have to agree. You wouldn’t catch me eating graveyard stew to get well for anything.

In May, I wrote about Matthew Culbertson Gardner. He owned the Gardner Ranch south of Carson City in the late 1800s. The house sat about where the U.S. Forest Service’s ranger station sits today on South Carson Street, just south of the Shell station. The ranch property is now taken up by such things as Office Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement and the Nevada Appeal.

Mr. Gardner must have been a fairly important and popular man, but it ultimately proved to be his undoing.

He attended Gov. John Sparks’ funeral in May 1908 where he contracted a cold that turned to pneumonia. Mr. Gardner died June 2, 1908 at the age of 73 in the Gardner house and was buried two days later.

Records say he had come west from Arkansas and had been in Carson City since about 1860.

The headline in the June 2, 1908, Appeal read “Pioneer dies here today: One of best known men in state passes away.”

The June 4 edition carried news of his funeral, which was also at the Gardner home. It listed his pall bearers as ex-governor Colcord, Judge Sweeney, Judge Talbot, ex-governor Adams, Dorsey Noteware and George H. Meyers.

The Rev. Powell of the Episcopal Church conducted the service and “a great number of friends of the deceased assembled to pay their sad tribute to the departed and the cortege to the cemetery was a large one.”

The Appeal was an evening paper in those days.

Gov. “Honest John” Sparks was elected for his first term in 1903 and died in the first six months of his second term of a lingering illness, brought on according to the paper by “continual worry over official and private affairs.”

The paper took up half of the front page in its mourning the day Sparks died, saying: “In Governor Sparks the people of Nevada had a man whose sympathy, broadness of mind, and thorough knowledge of human nature particularly fitted him for his exalted position and enabled him to administer the affairs of the state judiciously, honorably and to the highest interest of those whose destiny he controlled.” What a way to be remembered.

Gov. Sparks died on his Alamo Farm near Reno. He was 64. He left behind a wife and four children.

Denver Dickerson took over upon Sparks’ death May 22, 1908, and served until Jan. 2, 1911, when Tasker L. Oddie took office.

Kelli Du Fresne is features editor for the Nevada Appeal and is intrigued by the name Dorsey Noteware. She can be reached at 881-1261 or at