In EASTERN Pennsylvania, we said ‘youse’

Maybe yinz would like to hear about the tattoos…

I got a fund-raising email from that John Fetterman guy. All I know about him is that he’s quirky. Today, in one of her periodic, wide-ranging chats with Bret Stephens, Gail Collins said “Fetterman is overly colorful for my taste, constantly showing up in shorts for public events and bragging about his tattoos.”

Based on this email I got from Fetterman, she’s right:

Omg, Brad.

Now that I’m *officially* the Democratic nominee in Pennsylvania’s Senate race, I wanted to send yinz a quick note to introduce myself + then ask you to split a $10 donation between my campaign and the Democratic National Committee. 🙏

When people first meet me, they usually notice two things: My height (I’m 6’9”!) and my tattoos. On my left arm, I have “15104”.

That’s the ZIP code for Braddock, Pennsylvania — my home and the community where I was honored to serve as Mayor for 13 years…

See that? Gail was right. It only took him 59 words to get to his tattoos. I guess he does that to try to distract people from staring at his silly chin spinach.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about his assumption that I (as a person he wrongly thinks will send him money) will understand what “yinz” means.

Wondering whether it was one of those new, invented things like “LatinX,” I looked it up. Turns out that, according to Wikipedia, “Yinz (see History and usage below for other spellings) is a second-person plural pronoun used mainly in Western Pennsylvania English, most prominently in Pittsburgh, but it is also found throughout the cultural region known as Appalachia, located within the geographical region of the Appalachians….”

Huh. Odd. In Eastern Pennsylvania, we said “youse.” Which was understandable, in the sense that the meaning could be easily inferred. When I was in the second-grade there (OK, technically I was across the river from Philly and therefore in New Jersey, but they also did this in Philly), I learned that the one of the best ways to keep from getting into more than one fight a day was to say “youse” or “youse guys” whenever a normal, reasonable person would say “y’all.”

So I guess I now know how Pennsylvanians from up in the hills talk. So I’m now smarter. But I’m still not going to give him any money…

19 thoughts on “In EASTERN Pennsylvania, we said ‘youse’

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      And a good thing I did, because now I can say something nicer about Mr. Fetterman.

      Turns out he has sent me a bunch of emails the last few days. The excitable folks at ActBlue or whoever he’s using obviously think right now is a prime time for him to raise some money…

      Anyway, in one of them he used language that we Easterners — and in fact, folks from all over Pennsylvania — could understand:

      You may like Wawa more than Sheetz. You may say #FlyEaglesFly while I say #HereWeGo. But help send me to the U.S. Senate and I’ll fight for *all* of youse, just like I’ve been fighting for Pennsylvania my whole life…

      So yeah, he does seem to be trying to cast a wider net than it seemed in the email I mentioned previously.

      And by the way, I’d like to go on the record as preferring Wawa to Sheetz. In fact, I mentioned Wawa in a Tweet just the other day…

      1. Barry

        My favorite radio guy- Sirius radio host Michael Smerconish stops by a Wawa every single weekday morning before coming into the radio studio to do his show in Philadelphia. He mentions it often on his show.

        He spoke about it a few weeks ago in-depth – mentioning the different types of cars he saw in the parking lot one morning (he drives a Tesla) and the types of people standing in line with him just for a short moment in time – all very different- all dressed different depending on the type of job they are headed to (or headed home from doing) all going different directions- but all of them in line, early in the morning, at the same spot- just for a moment.

        Great discussion.

        You’d like his show Brad. I think you and him would agree on a lot of things.

          1. Barry

            The Michael Smerconish program is on Sirius XM – Channel 124 9am – 12noon each weekday.

            You can download the App and listen. I think they have a free 3 month promotion right now for the app.

            https://www.siriusxm.com/channels/potus-politics

            You can listen to a sample of some of his radio show on his YouTube channel

            https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEtT_F35i6pAq2yUluzXHSA/featured

            You can also see very short clips of his daily radio show on his Twitter page to get a sample.

  1. Doug Ross

    I spent the four years prior to COVID working every week in Pittsburgh with a bunch of yinzers. It’s a blue collar mentality, very close knit, ethnic… Much more of a collective soul to that city that any I’ve seen in the South.

    Fetterman’s email didn’t mention that he had a stroke right before the primary. That will hurt him no matter how healthy he claims to be. He seems like the real deal . The locals in Pittsburgh love him. Haven’t seen any polling but I’d guess he’s got a good shot.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You must have to go pretty far west to hear it.

      I spent a bunch of time in central PA — Carlisle and Harrisburg and that area — several years ago, and never did I hear a “yinz”…

  2. bud

    Fetterman has become my new, favorite politician. He’s a no nonsense guy who doesn’t suffer fools lightly. He called the Lt gov of TX bluff when he offered a $50k reward for reporting instances of voter fraud. Fetterman reported an instance of a Republican voter voting for his dead mother. To his credit Lt. Governor Patrick paid up. An example of being careful what you wish for. Fetterman is very popular in PA winning the senate primary over Conner Lamb another rising star in Democratic politics. As for his appearance. Really?? What an obsolete concern to care about tattoos and beards.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Apparently, you missed Gail Collins’ and my point. It’s not his appearance so much as it is the fact he goes on and on about his appearance.

      It’s one thing to be cool. It’s another thing, and not cool at all, to keep saying “Look at me; ain’t I cool?”

      Now I’ll turn around and defend him: He’s at a point when a lot of people are looking at him for the first time, so maybe he feels a need to explain himself, to say, “Yeah, I’m crazy tall and I’ve got weird facial hair and tattoos and stuff, but that’s just the way I am, so try to look past it.”

      Maybe he’s doing that. Gail Collins doesn’t seem to think so, but let’s give him a minute…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        You could even say he’s got an Abe Lincoln problem. A lot of people didn’t know what to make of Abe because HE was freakishly tall for his day, and kinda weird-looking. And while he didn’t say “yinz,” I don’t think, he came across as kind of a bumpkin.

        So he rolled with it, made jokes about it, and gave people time to realize he was the greatest thing that ever happened in American politics…

  3. Bill

    New Jersey Turnpike riding on a wet night
    ‘Neath the refinery’s glow out where the great black rivers flow
    License, registration, I ain’t got none
    But I got a clear conscience ’bout the things that I done
    Mister state trooper, please don’t stop me
    Please don’t stop me, please don’t stop me
    Maybe you got a kid, maybe you got a pretty wife
    The only thing that I got’s been bothering me my whole life
    Mister state trooper, please don’t stop me
    Please don’t you stop me, please don’t you stop me

  4. bud

    I’ve heard Fetterman a lot lately. Not once have I heard him mention his beard/tattoos. Sorry but it’s you and Collin’s obsessing over this superficial nonsense.

    Yep, Fetterman had a stroke. Not helpful. But not a dealbreaker either. I’d say he’s the favorite over carpetbagger Oz (if he hangs on to win)

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I’m tempted to say, “A stroke? That’s nothin’…”

      But then I think, well, at least I hope it’s nothing, for him.

      I can present a front to the world that makes it LOOK like nothing. And thank God I can talk, and walk without a limp, and don’t have a half-paralyzed face like others who have had them. And, of course, I’m not dead — so that’s a plus.

      But could I go out and campaign, as Fetterman is doing? No. I could not do what I did, for instance, in 2018, and I wasn’t even the candidate. I couldn’t do anything with that kind of pace.

      At some point I’ll write a post explaining that. I was about to do it several months ago, but then COVID got me, and then the long COVID, and I figure, how much do readers want to hear about some old guy’s health problems?

      But I should probably explain it at some point, because it still affects my life, and probably will continue to do so. And that affects other things, such as the amount of time I can find to blog.

      Here’s the short version: Like Ronald Reagan, I have to take a nap every day. Some days, I have to take two naps. It’s not like I get weary. It’s that something happened in the part of my brain that controls sleep. Yeah, I know, it sounds stupid. But it keeps me from, for instance, going out and applying for a full-time job.

      So, good thing I’m not 30 years younger, with young kids at home to support…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        If you haven’t been in a gubernatorial or Senate campaign — or worse, presidential — you just can’t imagine. I had worked hard for years in the newspaper business, often very long hours, sometimes a couple days at a time without a break for sleep.

        But the pace of a statewide campaign is insane.

        I first learned this when I was a kid, covering the gubernatorial campaign of 1978. I’d put in 20-hour days, never stopping. Of course, part of that was writing back in my hotel room after spending the day with the candidate, but I assume the candidate was also doing a lot of stuff when I wasn’t with him. Calling donors or putting out fires. Things he couldn’t do with me around. Because in those days, we did all-day man-to-man coverage, riding in the car or the plane with the candidate wherever he went.

        Of course, that was when I was 25. The 2018 campaign was 40 years later.

        Some months after it ended, I had breakfast or lunch with James and confessed to him how, in the first month I was on the campaign — before my metabolism had adjusted — I doubted that I was going to make it. Not that I would quit or anything; but just collapse.

        James just laughed out loud. For a couple of reasons, I think. First, at that point he’d been doing it for a year. Second, his level of activity was a LOT worse than mine.

        Fortunately, you do get used to it. Your body adjusts. And then, of course, it gets worse — such as spending those last eight days on the “bus” — but then you get used to that, too…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          During that horrible first month, my wife said to me several times, “You wanted to do this.”

          And I would say, “Yes, I absolutely did.” And then I’d shut up with the complaining — for a while, anyway.

          Of course, she was the only one who heard the complaining, and I wasn’t around much for her to hear it. I never mentioned a word about it to James, of course, until that lunch in 2019…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Oh, and to give credit…

            As bad as it was for me, and as much worse as it was for James, it was even worse for Mandy — at least, during the months I was on board (James had of course started campaigning long before she joined him).

            She did everything James did — often with him, sometimes out on her own — and when they got back to Columbia, she’d get in her truck and drive home to her family in Lancaster. Then in the morning, she’d be back in Columbia to start back out at 7 a.m. or whenever that day started…

            It was kind of like Ginger Rogers, doing everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in heels…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Thanks, Bud.

          Over the last year, I’ve had a couple of sleep studies scheduled. Last summer, I put it off because I was too busy with health problems my parents were having.

          Then, I saw a different sleep specialist who was also a neurologist. He fully understood the cause of the problem, but he wanted a sleep study, too — just in case something else was going on, I think. So I scheduled one.

          Then I got COVID. Then the COVID didn’t go away, so I canceled that appointment.

          But once I get back to where things are “normal” in the sense that I’m the way I was between the stroke and the COVID — and I think I’m almost there — I’ll reschedule…

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