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Jerry Davich: Southern comfort – an infectious accent

Koney King Gary. | Jerry Davich~Sun-Times Media

Koney King in Gary. | Jerry Davich~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 8, 2013 6:24AM



The older waitress ambled up to our table and dished out a southern accent that dripped with syrupy sincerity.

“So how are y’all doing?” she asked while gently placing down a plate of hot, fluffy pancakes.

The woman worked at the Pancake Pantry in downtown Gatlinburg, one of hundreds of tourist attractions near the scenic Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. The restaurant was packed with out-of-towners, many of them like us who didn’t have a southern accent.

Everywhere we went — from white-water rafting and zip-lining to shopping and sightseeing — the locals’ language was coated in southern comfort. So much so that I soon found myself emulating their infectious drawl during my week-long vacation in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the surrounding area.

The familiar “Y’all” came out easier than I expected, as well as other southern slang, greetings and niceties. At first, I felt like I was mocking them (and maybe I was) but my verbiage soon reflected theirs to some degree. Have you done this, too?

My question: Do Southerners pick up our language or “Yankee accent” during their visits up here? I’m told they don’t, but if you’ve experienced this, let me know.

Hot dog joints

My column last month on the best hot dog restaurants in the region attracted a ton of reader feedback, and many calls into my Casual Fridays radio show that week.

Caller after caller offered their favorite place to buy a hot dog, chili dog or Chicago-style dog, from Hammond to Michigan City. And each one came with a personal story or memory or family tradition. In fact, this tasty topic attracted the most callers I ever received on my show. Not a surprise in a region that prides itself on anything involving “encased meat,” as one caller quipped.

According to readers, the most popular joints included Arman’s in Miller, Andy’s in Portage, Chuck Wheeler’s Vienna Red Hots in Gary (and Hobart) and Koney King in the Glen Park section of Gary. I remember going there as a kid with my dad, who would buy a dozen chili dogs at a time because, as he put it, “We might get hungry for one later on.”

Still at 46th and Broadway, its sign says it all: “3 Generations … since 1920.”

Viral video of the week

Today I’m introducing a new column feature — a viral video of the week — something I typically offer readers and followers on my social media sites.

For those of you who don’t routinely visit YouTube, there are countless videos posted each day that are amazing, entertaining or just plain bizarre. This week’s hilarious video shows 63-year-old Mary Hvizda of Onalaska, Wis., showing off her drumming skills in a music store.

Not only is she obviously skilled with drumsticks in her hands, but her look of matter-of-fact nonchalance is what makes this video so entertaining. You can view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRhoHN8x_00.

Remember to delay retirement

With so many seniors bumping back their plans for retirement after getting socked by the stock market and 401(k) losses, here is something to consider.

New research is reminding us about the “use it or lose it” philosophy regarding our brain as we age. A new study shows that people who delay their retirement have less risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

According to an Associated Press story, it’s by far the largest study to look at this issue, and researchers say the conclusion makes sense. As I’m often told by seniors who remain in the workforce, keeping a job (or a career) helps keep them mentally sharp, physically active and socially connected — which help prevent mental decline.

In this country, more than 5 million people have Alzheimer’s, including one in nine Americans 65 and older. As one researcher puts it, for each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2 percent.

Say what you will about working yourself into the grave, but I’ve also heard about retirees whose mental skills take a nosedive after leaving their job. Sure, it’s a tricky balancing act, but this new research should at least be explored.

Spending your “golden years” in the scary fog of dementia is not what anyone dreams about while planning for retirement.

300th wedding anniversary?

I regularly receive proud announcements regarding wedding anniversaries — 10 years, 30 years, even 60 or more years. But I’ve never heard about a collective wedding anniversary from an entire family until hearing from Paul Bretscher Jr. of Valparaiso.

“Our story is really quite remarkable, especially in this age of single living and high divorce rates,” said Bretscher, the third of the 10 children.

On Aug. 18, the 10 children of the Rev. Paul G. Bretscher and Marguerite Melcher Bretscher, including their spouses, will celebrate a cumulative 300 years of wedded bliss in their hometown of Valparaiso.

Also joining in the celebration will be the couple’s 26 grandchildren, one of their seven great-grandchildren, and the Rev. Bretscher’s new wife (of 13 years) Connie Felton Bretscher, her son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Lois Felton (married 17 years).

The Rev. Bretscher, who’s 91, was the longtime pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Valparaiso, and planned activities include the baptism of the newest great-grandchild, a fashion show of bridesmaids’ gowns (possibly modeled by the grooms), and a married couples three-legged-race, “to determine which couple is truly the most compatible,” Paul Bretscher Jr. noted.

Congratulations to everyone involved, not only for staying married for so long but also for brainstorming this wonderful idea to celebrate this fact. Mazel tov!

Connect with Jerry via email, at jdavich@post-trib.com, voice mail, at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.



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