The Uncle Billy Al Silverhorse Stories
The Oklahoma Bootlegger . . . and Other Short Stories
The stories of Uncle Billy Al Silverhorse are told in the fashion peculiar to the areas of Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas. The Ozark and Boston Mountains terminate in Oklahoma, and language, speech patterns, and expressions used in these stories are told in the vernacular of the hills. I like to think there are numerous Billy Al Silverhorses still alive and still telling stories about happenings in the Hills and Woods of the area, but unfortunately, their number is dwindling.
Uncle Billy Al and his friends are a conglomeration of many of the characters I knew growing up in Oklahoma. My parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, and strangers, all spoke “Okie” and thought people that didn’t were just putting on airs.
Windows were “winders”; minnows were “minners”; a measurement of passing time was “after a spell”; food was “vittles”; and over there was “over yonder”. Some terms like, “he made a lawyer” means he passed the bar; or “he went to the bad” means he chose being bad rather than good.
In a world homogenized by television and national popular culture, I think it necessary to remember when things were simpler and there was a richness—even an intricacy—to a language and manner of speaking that is fast-disappearing from our lives.
There are many of us who want to remember that richness and the Billy Al Silverhorses of the world can help us remember.