Leader Blues

Saturday, October 20, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Richard Allin, RIP

Richard Allin died Thursday, although we had already adjusted some years ago to abiding the mornings without his gentle wit.

Allin wrote the Our Town column for the old Arkansas Gazette for almost 30 years and carried his followers with him to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette for a few years afterward, until his old Gazette contract ran out and the publisher turned him out to find a writer who was more “with it” for young readers.

Allin was a humorist who wrote about the mundane planes of life. He might object to the characterization, but he was a social critic as well.

He just happened to tolerate and even to love what he criticized, which was unschooled and often uncouth people in this lovably uncouth state.

Especially its politicians. He often recounted the official deliberations in the mythical twin Arkansas towns of Wad and Gudge.

Our favorite were the two wonderful pocketsize books that he wrote in collaboration with the late great cartoonist George Fisher, two editions of the Southern Legislative Dictionary, “wrote by Richard Allin, pitchers by George Fisher,” according to the cover. They were collections of colloquialisms and barbarisms uttered on the floor of the Arkansas legislature. He had covered the Ledge while he was at the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Gazette.

The opening entries of the Second Edition will suffice for examples:
About half preacher: (pejorative) holier than thou, superficially pious. “Don’t take a drank around him. He’s about half preacher.”

Afred: askeered.

Agonna: signifying future action. “We’re not agonna put up with none of this.”

Aggculcher: farming, the art of farming.

Aholt to: firmly grasped. “She got aholt to his hair and give it a good tug afore the sergeant-at-arms run her off.”

Aim: intend. “He never aimed for the bill to pass.”

We needed Richard Allin and will miss him.