Tuesday, April 19

You Say Shuck, I Say Shuckey

The people in most counties do not appreciate the coming of outsiders who challenge local customs and habits, and I try not to be a meddler in that respect. But when there are some old-timers who agree with me, then I have a ground on which to stand. At least I won't be fighting everybody.

For as far back as I can remember, I have eaten dried green beans. I remember them being strung on threads at our home in Virginia and later in Harlan County. The fact that it took longer to cook them only enhanced their value.

Such beans are part of the menu of many Perry Countians, I've learned by observation since coming back to Hazard. But there is one big difference in the Perry County beans.

Last Friday at noon, a bunch of fellows were sitting in Don's when somebody mentioned he was going to have a supper of "shucky" beans. Or maybe he said "shuckey beans. Anyway, the pronunciation was caught in a free for all discussion.

Bruce Stephens, the lawyer, said he never hard of "shucky" beans before he came to Hazard. He asked me. I had to admit that there was no such word in my active vocabulary, that the only thing I'd ever heard those delicious things called was "shuck" beans, dropping the fancy ending evidently brought into this country once upon a time by a high class drummer.

Fred Bullard and Paul Petrey insisted the pure "Anglo Sexton" pronunciation is "shuckey." Tolbert Combs being county attorney and a good politician, didn't want to make too big a mistake, so he said he believed it was "shucky" or "shuckey" and that it could be "shuck." Don Fouts stopped long enough at the table to declare that beyond a reasonable doubt, the beans referred to are "shuck" beans; that only the people born and raised in this county stuck to the "shucky" or shuckey" side.

We stopped a number of person in the restaurant and on the street to inquire about their pronunciation. Most of the "y" "ey" group were natives of Perry County or hadn't been past Jackson in years. 1955


  1. Well, until I had read this post,I had never heard them refered to as shuckey.I'm not from Kentucky and I've always said shuck beans. Some here call them leather britches.

  2. She Who Loves UK Too!April 20, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Brought a smile to my face and lots of memories flooding my mind!

    Never how far we roam, we're never as far as the memory can take us!

    I LOVE reading these Blogs!

  3. Some of my folks live in the Western part of Ky and their garden has white half runners, etc.

    Some down here in SC call them Leather Britches also.

    I have heard them call shuck, shucky, dried green beans, but whatever you call them they are tasty and sopping good.

  4. I've lived in Hazard my whole life and I have always heard them called shucky beans.

  5. I had never heard of them being called shuck beans or leather britches until I mentioned them on Facebook. They have always been "shucky beans" to me. Either way, I have to agree with a previous poster and say no matter what you call them, they are delicious!

  6. What a fun post! My Eastern Kentucky family has always called them shuck beans. But I have heard of others calling them leather britches. I have a new post up about shuck beans on Appalroot Farm: A blog inspiring those with Appalachian roots to celebrate their heritage. Hope you get a chance to check it out at http://www.appalrootfarm.com/2014/10/a-down-home-surprise.html