Thursday, July 13, 2006


Yesterday's journal mentioned a "chicken pound." When Lou Ann read that post she told Dale about the mistake I had made. She was familiar with a chicken coop, a chicken pen, and a chicken yard, but she'd never heard of a chicken pound. Whatever could I have been meaning? Dale says she was positively bent out of shape. Dale, of course, knew exactly what I had meant. O'cockers have been keeping chickens in pounds for generations.

So I went to my dictionary. A "pound" is "an enclosure for animals...." Exactly as we use the term here on Ocracoke.

We also have "pound nets" on the island. Again, according to my dictionary, a "pound net" is "a fish trap consisting of a netting arranged into a directing wing and an enclosure with a narrow entrance." The next time you cross Pamlico Sound look for the pound net stakes set out by local fishermen.

We also "pound the preacher" now and then, or at least we did in the past. Years ago, when the preacher barely made enough salary to sustain himself and his family neighbors would bring him a pound of butter, or a pound of rice.... At least that's where I think the term came from. Unfortunately, my dictionary doesn't list this definition of "pound." Maybe this is one very local use of the word.

Here at Village Craftsmen we're curious. We've asked a number of our customers and none of them (including those from elsewhere in Eastern North Carolina) has heard of a chicken pound or pounding the preacher (though some said they'd like to). If you use these terms, please leave a comment -- and be sure to tell us where you are from. Check the comments link below to see the results.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."


  1. Anonymous10:29 AM

    Hi, Philip,
    While I've never heard of a chicken pound, we always have a pounding whenever we get a new preacher. We sometimes do it for engaged couples, as well. That is usually combined with a recipe party where you bring the recipe and ingredients for a favorite dish. Nice way to stock the cupboard for newlyweds.
    Don Davis
    Ranburne, Alabama

  2. Anonymous5:48 PM

    In my neck of the woods we call it going to the grocery store.

    Signed: A nice lady in the Midwest.

  3. Anonymous7:10 PM

    Here in south west Virginia we have had "poundings" for as long as I can remember. Its an old tradition where food and staples are collected and taken to folks. Often it is for people in ministry, widows, sick, or perhaps someone having financial problems.

    I know they use that term over in the Triad of NC as well. Lived there a while.

  4. Anonymous12:02 AM

    My grandma called her chicken yard a 'pound', and my aunt in Maine had Lobster pounds, but your pounding the preacher sounds like a Shivaree here in Missouri. Lots of fun & merrymaking, but hard on the newlyweds if they don't have a good sense of humor.

    Enjoy the island...we sure miss it.
    S.S. Downey

  5. Anonymous11:41 AM

    When I was hired by a Presbyterian church in Gastonia, NC to be their Church Educator, the congregation gave me a "pounding". My cupboards were stocked for a long time!

    I now live in West Virginia and I've never heard that expression used around here.

    Luseana the Mystic Mermaid

  6. Anonymous6:57 AM

    I grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee and then lived for several years in the Western North Carolina mountains and poundings are common occurances in both areas. They were not only for preachers but for anyone in need.

    However, we kept our chickens in coops or houses.

    A faithful reader from Brunswick County, NC.

  7. Anonymous7:17 AM

    It's no different than a "dog pound," I suppose!