Smithfield nicknames filled a book

Published 9:28 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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The late Mary Gale had a sense of humor and wrote a bit of poetry from time to time. She merged the two in an ode to Smithfield nicknames that I fell heir to it some years ago.

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Nicknames, it seems, were an important part of small town culture, not just here but in other communities as well. Mary was convinced — and she may have been correct — that nowhere were nicknames more widely used than in Smithfield and Isle of Wight County.


And Mary Gale was in a position to know. She worked for years with her husband Bronson and his brother Bob in their local furniture business, and what better place to hear and learn local nicknames than in a business patronized at one time or another by virtually everyone in the community?


Following are excerpts from a tiny, illustrated book Mary put together as a tribute to local nicknames. A copy of Mary’s little book was given to me by Bob Gale not long before her death a couple of decades ago. Though I wrote about nicknames and quoted bits of the book soon after that, I thought a more complete list would be enjoyable. It’s a valuable look back on a local tradition.


They’re offered up in particular to the diminishing number of readers who remember a lot of those she mentioned. and as a way of passing on Mary Gale’s interest in this bit of local lore.


“There’s Onions, and Jughead, Peanut and Boy. Do you think someone was just being coy?


“Mookie and Wookie, and Looky, too. Buster, Russ and a girl named Boo.


Pee-Wee, Monkey, Monk and Butch, Short-Duck, Tiny, Shug and such, Wissie and Wishey, Red and Honey, Booty and Bootsy, Gram-ma and Sonny.


“Pokey, Mamma Goose, Skiddley, Big Caddy, Little Caddy, Biggie and Bear… And I really think it’s only fair to name


“Wild Horse, Moose and Bug, Goat Boy Pint, Pig and Pug.


There was “Tree Top and Punks, Hi-Pockets, Foots, Chicken and Cappy, Boy Blue, Bud, Bub and Happy.


Mary’s collection was apparently an ongoing effort. The next page over, she wrote, “Well, here it is another day and more nicknames keep coming my way.


“Like Donkey, Mule, Slim and Pookie, Tom Pots, Soaks and Spooky.


“Peachy, Coony, Tinky and Hump, Cracker, Cornbread, Chicken Nick and Stump.


“Teeny Bud, Dude, Punkin’ and Duck. Dickie Dee, Lost Boy, Slick, Double Truck, Rich Rob, Diddie Bo, Ace and Kitty, Hound Dog, Bulldog, Ting and Mittie.


“Ten Cent, Buzzy, Booger and Penny, Coogie, Buddie, Ripper, ‘T’, Sport, Peter Rabbit, Toby and Bea, Abner, Squirrel, Frog and Chum. Wonder where those names came from?


“Snapper, Smokey, Curly and Horse, Shakespeare, Sheriff and Bubba of course.


“Cool Breeze, Creeda, Pinky and Coot, Useless, Coffee and Weenie to boot. Cocky, Hank, Pony and Griz, Plug and Mode, that’s all there is.”


Mary thought she had finished when she wrote that line in 1995, but a year later added this:


“My sources for nicknames are at it again. So here’s an addition or they might complain:


“They added Bum Boodley, Todie and Mutt, Toothpick and Jabbo, Cabbage head, Poochie, Rockie and Kale. (If these people see this, they’ll send me to jail.)”


Mary concluded her little book with the following:


“I wanted to put these names in my rhyme, so they’d be recorded for all time.


“For when before in any small town have so many nicknames ever been found?”