“Car 54, Where You At?”

Quite often,  in this ongoing discussion about “Getting a Better Grip on Speaking and Writing,”  we deal with situations where speakers seem to have lost their grips or perhaps never had a grip on some matter that required careful structuring and adequate clarity of expression:   i. e., both “correct”  grammar and good usage.

It is somewhat gratifying to know and to recognize that not all speakers nor all writers boast a complete and polished style.  Otherwise,  how else could we feel so easily superior?  What else could we do to occupy so agreeably our time and our energy?

One example of grubby and easily despised usage/grammar has to do, as in my title, with the ending unnecessarily of a sentence with what we have come to term a “preposition.”  (In a separate posting I will seek to clarify the application of the term “preposition”;   in their best moments,  these little scamps offer speakers and writers  a  variety and a kind of high and tight smartness that no other part of speech can match.)

Back now, then,  to those who abuse the preposition by deploying it to serve,  like the vermiform appendix, as simply a useless appendage.  Especially is this so with the use of  “at.”  I may have posted the following story previously.  If so, most of you that have may not still recall it:

It seems that a country lad had come to the Harvard University campus to meet a girl who was a freshman there.  As he strolled,  rather lost, about the campus,   he encountered a well-dressed young man whose demeanor suggested confidence and familiarity with the campus.   Country lad:  “Say,  fella,  can you tell me where the library is at?”        Replied the young man,   “We at Hahvuhd do not end a sentence with a preposition.”   Country lad,  “Well, let me rephrase my question.  Where is the library at, jackass?”

Some folks do not like to be corrected in their use of the English language.

Police officers and criminals both tend to use in their speech some rather casual, even irritating,  language.  Here are a few examples I jotted down recently as I watched and listened to one of the perpetual “Cops”  programs on TruTV:    “He’s laying in the street.”   “Why are them fighting anyway?”  “I haven’t ate in forever.”  And a whole bucket of examples of the kind of language the Harvard senior had come to abhor:   “Where were you at tonight?”  “Where’s my wallet at?”  “Where is the gun at?”      Ad nauseam.

Comments and questions,  please



23 Responses to ““Car 54, Where You At?””

  1. D. Says:

    Would you please add “Where you stay?” (as in where you reside) and “I’m fixin’ …” (as in to get ready to do something rather than actually being in the process of fixing something) to your list? These are just a couple of the phrases I hear when out and about which make my stomach do flips each time they are used. I will politely reply with the correct grammatical answer, ” I am from….” or “I will be… I am going to…” if they are asked of me. My children do slip into the local colloquialisms at times, yet they were brought up using proper grammar and vocabulary and use those most of the time.

  2. Forest Crump Says:

    To heck with all those blogs about politics, war and religion, this blog is where it’s at. Dr. Rundus, those other bloggers ain’t got nutin on you, a person can come here and let you learn them something bout the English language.

    And D, I know where I stay, do you know where you stay? I stay wherever I am at. Unless I stay go.

    I am disappointed that I missed the breakfast this past Friday but some fatherly duties came up, hopefully next time. How about Friday Nov. 6th that is the Friday after the elections should be some lively discussion that morning.

    I admire the members of the breakfast group that take their civic responsibility seriously without an accompanying air of self-importance, they are genuine down to earth people who are trying to do good—God bless them and my hat is off to them win or loose because they are in it for the right reasons.

    However, I like the line from the Kid Rock song, Cowboy, “I’m going to start an escort service for all the right reasons.”

    I’m voting for Frank as mayor of Massy Hill.

  3. CC Says:

    I thought he was already the Mayor of The HILL! LOL

  4. CC Says:

    Dr. Rundus had a great time at the breakfast last Friday! Hope to do ti again real soon! Sure missed you there Forest!

  5. Raymond Rundus Says:

    Great! Enjoyed all four of these responses. How many remember the TV series that I was echoing in the title for this posting?

    Forest Gump: We did miss you. At least once Tammy said, “I wonder when George is going to get here?”
    Your suggestion of a November 6 breakfast and gabfest might be acceptable. I had mentioned, because of Thanksgiving coming plus I have company the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, that we might wait until early December.

    But, in the spirit of “Strike! While the iron is not,” that post-election gig might be a winner. We can fete the winners and continuing incumbents and immerse in a bucket of water with a few apples for company those who didn’t “make the grade.” Har!

    Keep in good humor, Happy Warriors. When good sense, good will, and good humor all jibe, life can’t be but half bad.


  6. Raymond Rundus Says:


    Just now, I have come to the realization that the title of this Blog Site is “Getting a Grip on Reading and Writing.” I thought it had been christened “Getting a Grip on Speaking and Writing” over three years ago.
    P’raps I’ve rebaptized it without knowing I’d done so.

    (Further Research Needed)


  7. Raymond Rundus Says:

    I meant to write “Getting a [Better]Grip on Speaking and Writing”
    as well as “Getting a [Better] Grip on Reading and Writing.”

    Shows how easy my brain can get uneasy.


  8. CICvet Says:

    re: Preposition abuse: Did Winston really say, in part, “That is something up with which I shall not put.” ?

  9. CICvet Says:

    Whoops. Question retracted — just read your other blog.

  10. Frank B Maness,Jr. Says:

    For the record there are more Mayors of or in Massey Hill than residents! Thanks for the vote of confidence and I’m confide I’m not “THE MAYOR OF THE HILL”. I do claim Cude and Dallas streets as the place to or not to be!!

    I’m not striving to stay put! When I had a yard dog it thought I was a stranger at my own resident or place I really don’t stay.

    Life isn’t much fun without a funny bone!! Some folks don’t even have a funny bone and never did and never will!! Laugh at yourself some will regardless of what you say! Just be youself it’s to easy! No one is perfect beside those that think they are!!

    A lot of things are in the grip!! Get a tight grip and know when to be loose!!
    Sorry if I lost my grip on this tread! Happy Holidays !!

  11. prayerwarrior_52 Says:

    I hope to join you next breakfast, whether permitting.( We will see whether i have any other commitments)….LOL

  12. Marshall Faircloth Says:

    I think the breakfast slipped up on some, self included. Didn’t someone say, “Where Marshall at?” or was it “Where Marshall is?”. Or is the truth closer to “Who dat?”

    I love the Southern dialect, if that’s what it is. I can use standard English when appropriate, but I want to make a point, there’s nothing quite like bad grammar!

  13. Forest Crump Says:

    Ain’t it truth.

  14. Lolly Says:

    The banner at the top (where your face is shown) says
    “Getting a Better Grip on Writing and Talking.”

    The title bar on my browser says
    “Getting a Better Grip on Reading and Writing.”

    Nothing anywhere about “Speaking.”

  15. Raymond Rundus Says:


    Thanks for the heads-up and the research you’ve done about the title for my “Blog Site.” I was informed early on that I had to have a title before I could be officially initiated into the Blog fraternity.
    The original title I chose re a June 6, 2006 communication with a couple of the “Observer” potentates and an April 2008 take on the profile on the blog confirms that the original title chosen was “Getting a Better Grip on Writing and Talking.”
    I really don’t know how or when the title changed to “Getting a Better Grip on Reading and Writing.”
    As of now I would favor “Getting a Better Grip on Speaking and Writing.” I think that “Speaking” suggests a more deliberate kind of discourse than “Talking.” Don’t you think so? Or, maybe, don’t we all?
    I am reminded hear of a clever introduction Groucho Marx used as he rose to address some kind of gathering. Said the one and only, “Before I begin to speak, I have something important to say.” Quite an insight there into the charade of much public speaking.

    Thanks again.


  16. D. Says:

    LOL, I’m not always straight laced and tight lipped, little pearls of jest do appear at times. I also do enjoy listening to the southern dialect and lexicon therein, but those two I posted above just kill me like fingernails on a chalkboard. Yes, at times I slip and let a few things go by but it’s nothing compared to what my eldest daughter said one day when she came home from high school while living in Hawaii. Nothing but pidgin came out of her mouth! Think Ebonics with a Hawaiian/Samoan flair to it. It would slay any English teacher right away!

    Raymond, yes I did catch your tv show reference and do remember that show from reruns on Nick At Night as the show stopped airing only a few short years before I was born.

  17. CC Says:

    If you wanna here bad grammar? Just go down south to ROBESON County, Honey! I hope ma clur!! Where ya been Papa? Ain’t seet cha in a long Tiimme! You beat all I eva SEET!? Hey! Gal. Come and git dees lil Devil Catchers outa ma hoose! take’em datry. Meet me in the woodzes! LOL.

  18. D. Says:

    It’s Pidgin in the south then–same twangy almost incomprehendable compilation of words. What I do love is listening to are the storytellers from the mountains. I guess my love of language is deep rooted. My father was a naturalized Frenchman who spoke/understood seven different languages, and his accent was still quite thick to the day he passed away. My friends used to ask my dad questions just so they could hear him talk and listen to the accent and how he pronounced the words in English. My sister first wrote animal as “aneemall” because that’s how Dad always pronounced it and wash was “warshed” as that’s how Mom pronounced it (she’s Pennsylvania Dutch/Heinz 57 as she says it)–Grandma was from Indiana. My best friend was Chinese and Taiwanese–listened to and learned a bit of Cantonese when I was in Kindergarten and First Grades. Of course I learned how to speak French along with English–but I mixed the two continuously in school, and had problems with the “-th” sound as it’s NOT a sound in the French language. In junior high, our neighbor’s son was deaf so I learned ASL sign language–of course he taught me the bad words but didn’t tell me they were bad and his parents saw me signing them one day as their son was having me practice what he taught me and boy did he yell when he got his punishment! I learned a little bit of Arabic (Dad was in Morocco for a good part of his childhood) but have forgotten practically all of it from lack of use. In college I took an ASL class as well as a SEE (Signing Exact English) Language class in preparation for a special education minor. I still do remember much of what I learned as I’ve had to use it here and there in customer service when I worked in retail and the food industry. So I do have an ear for language. Love the melodies I can hear, the lilts, the gruffness, the twang, sing-songy, popping (the Masai warriors and the bushman from “The Gods Must Be Crazy” movie–love to hear the bushman talk), rolling, whispering sounds of each language and area it’s found. Now there’s one more language I like most of all right now, it’s the zzzzzzzzz’s of sleep I really do need. Thank you for this enlightening and light-hearted conversation. Goodnight! Bonne nuit!

  19. Lolly Says:

    >>>I think that “Speaking” suggests a more deliberate kind of discourse than “Talking.” Don’t you think so? Or, maybe, don’t we all?

    Yes! The “Talking” in the title has always bugged me.

  20. Tom Says:

    Mayor Frank didn’t the old B&W TVs on the hill bring this program in as “Car ’54 Where are you?” Did Mayor Hoggie have the “at” deleted to protect us from improper usage of the english language?

  21. Frank B Maness,Jr. Says:

    Tom, A couple of neighbors had a brand new B&W TV with rabbit ears which was something to die for in those times on the Hill. Those that had one not only changed their channel by hand but changed their attitude as well. Looking back it don’t take much for folks to think they have arrived!!

  22. Raymond Rundus Says:

    Some great stuff in these comments. I will alert some other “interested parties” that I frequently communicate with to check in and be counted.

    What D. offers is particularly rich and energizing. Some more good evidence as to why ex-Governor Hunt nominated Fayetteville to be “North Carolina’s International City” and also why “Observer” Editorial Page Editor Tim White gave the keynote address.

    I also appreciate Lolly’s endeavors in helping wrestle with the title of this blog, prompting me, in the guise of “Professor Readycure,” to lobby Melissa Garcia to change the title to “Getting a Better Grip on Speaking and Writing.” I am inclined to think that was my original choice. In the meantime history has had its say in the matter–and as usual thrown a cloud of fog over much of the process.


  23. Darryl Radler Says:

    It’s good that you took your time to write this post; it’s stimulating to hear another’s opinion. I appreciate your work on this page, and I’ll return for more reading.

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