Laura Lofgren: A Midwesterner finds Berkshire ways curious


Laura Lofgren is an Eagle staff copy editor and writer. She joins Sean McHugh as a local 413 columnist on topics of interest to young adults in the Berkshires.

Coming from Ohio to the Berkshires over a year ago now, I've noticed differences almost every day in the way people act, speak and generally exist as compared to my Midwestern friends and family.

These regionalisms bothered me at first, but since I've grown to love this place and many people in it, it's fun to argue whose are better.

• First, dear Berkshirites, it is called a "yard sale" or a "garage sale" depending on the location, not a tag sale. We Midwesterners like specificity when it comes to finding a good deal. With tag sale, I don't know where you are located. With yard sale, obviously someone is selling stuff in their yard, and we should be concerned with weather conditions that day. Or if the person specifies garage sale, hey, it's in a garage and in good weather or bad, a-shopping we will go.

• Catty-cornered versus kitty-cornered: The definition is "in a diagonal position."

Where I'm from, we say catty-cornered; here, I've heard only kitty-cornered. I have no idea where that difference came in, but maybe it's also an ageism.

• Package stores: I was told the origin of this name was based on the fact that these stores sold liquor products in packs. But in Ohio, we say "going to the liquor store," not "going to the packy," which, I'll admit, sounds, cuter and all-encompassing. But when I say I'm going to the liquor store, you know exactly why I'm going there.

Thinking more on this difference, saying packy and being more generalized can have its benefits. But I have yet to find a package store that sells packing materials. I'll save that for at trip to the post office.

• This next one is strictly based on the wonky laws you all have out here, but I was made the fool my first week in Pittsfield when I went to a gas station to buy beer. The dirty looks! Or were they looks of pity.

"She doesn't know our state's terrible no beer sold in gas stations law. Shame."

I'm not trying to say Ohio is better or anything, but it was simply magnificent to be able to go get some gas and grab a 12-pack at the same time. It's the little things. (7 Eleven in Adams, you don't count in this paragraph. Thank goodness.)

• We all know pop versus soda. Back home, I used to call it pop. Then I heard of this great argument amongst our nation and switched to soda, just to mix it up. In coming to Massachusetts and realizing the debate continued here, I've settled on soda pop. Both words. One meaning. Soda pop. People down south, I've heard, call it coke.

Southerners, in my opinion, you lose all around. Coke is a brand, not an all-encompassing term. Just stop it and argue like the rest of us.

• My mom asked me what size I am anymore. That word "anymore" seems to bring in some outside confusion to the Commonwealth. My boyfriend said he's never heard anyone use the word "anymore" to be synonymous with "lately." There's an Ohio one for you, and yes, I know it's not grammatically correct anymore.

But here are some things that are 100 percent weird at first sight, but that I've come to love and adore, and some you may, too.

The American Legion. Let's pause and think about what they do for the community and what they represent -- benefits, fundraisers, community parties. OK. Now let's take a moment to go out to one and enjoy awesome company, wonderful stories and drink prices that beat those of my college town's bars.

I've made some really wonderful friends by going to the Legion in North Adams. Lively debates, questionable pool duels and some out-of-this-world individuals to behold, I love that place, but never would have dreamed of going there while in lived in Ohio.

Along the lines of a favorite pastime of mine, Jezynowka (yedga-NOOV-ka), or blackberry brandy, is both delicious and terrible. The Polish up north introduced me to shots of last Christmas, and I must say I've grown to look forward to a toast or three with some good friends and a late night. I've even brought some home to friends back in Ohio to try. They love it. I'll continue to spread the word, my Poles of the north.

Since I've selfishly compared quite a bit of what Massachusetts has given me, I'd like to present to you Buckeyes -- not the poisonous seed that falls from our state tree, or the Ohio State Univeristy's sports teams. I'm talking candy. Yummy peanut butter balls wrapped in chocolate minus a bit, allowing a portion of the peanut butter to pop through and look like its namesake. So good. So Ohio.

I'm going home for Christmas, so I'll be bringing some back to try. Or, if you'd like to make these tasty treats and try something from the Buckeye State, email me for the recipe at I've got all the time in the world, and I've got miles to go before I sleep.

You can also follow me on Twitter @BE_LauraL_.


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