A hollerin’ good time


While I write this, we are deep in the south of our country for a wedding of a dear friend’s daughter. Our southern states have many fine qualities about them – the food, the warm weather, the food, the wonderful scenery, the food, the historical sites, did I mention the food?

One of the fabulous things I discovered was that in the South, in North Carolina in fact, they celebrate the tradition of “hollerin’.” Now before you think, oh golly that sounds dumb, let me assure you that hollerin’ is an important part of our historical communication system.

Think back to years ago when folks who lived in the mountains or foothills of mountains and had no telephone, computers, internet, or social media.

Those people who lived in those hills or mountains developed, over the years, a means of communicating with each other for a variety of things – everything from a simple greeting to a call of distress. They evolved to a point where they could holler across hills and valleys to share a number of different feelings. Frankly, it was a means to help each other survive – not just in times of emergency but to insure human contact in isolated areas.

The national hollerin’ contest has been held every year since 1969. This contest not only showcases the different types of hollers, but also helps promote the understanding of the history of this communication system to others. Participants have to know the correct ways to holler for different reasons, and then be able to actually holler them. Winners have appeared on late night television talk shows (so you know this is legitimate!).

June 21st has been designated National Hollerin’ Day and I think it’s no accident that this falls on the weekend we traditionally celebrated Father’s Day. I mean, fathers are just naturally the best hollerers, don’t you think? Although in my case, mom did most of the hollering in our house. She was pretty good at it, as I recall. But Dad could quell us with just that one look. It could shut me up for about a week, just thinking about that look. He hollered with his eyes and eyebrows. Plus, he would do “the look” over the top of his black glasses, giving it even more punch. So his form of hollering as a steely gaze, from beneath bushy eyebrows, and over the top of square black glasses. It was intimidating.

Yep, there’s more than one way to holler, as last year’s national champ from the Spivey Corner, North Carolina contest, Tony Peacock, knows all too well. A side note on the winner’s name – have you ever heard a peacock screech? By the way, they also have a contest for ladies’ hollerin’ – current champ is Sheila Frye , teens and juniors. And if hollerin’ isn’t your thing, they also have competitions in conch shell blowin’ and whistlin’.

So this Father’s Day, I am celebrating all the dads I love, whether they holler or not. Email me at suecurtis9@gmail.com.