“Peach fuzz mustache, butt cut. El Camino pick-up truck. Aerosmith, Loverboy, Motley Crue. Holding hands just me and you.” ~MU330, Hoosier Love
I grew up in St. Louis, and I’ve noticed St. Louisans (Is that a word? If not, it is now.) have their own way of speaking. Many cities and towns do, but St. Louis has one word that the rest of the country defines in a completely different way. Hoosier. When I say that word, you probably think of someone from Indiana. The Hoosier State. You would be wrong. At least in St. Louis. In St. Louis this word is meant to describe someone others define as redneck, hick or white trash. To put it in context, here are some of the ways in which the word is used:
- That’s sooo hoosier.
- Oh, that bar? It’s a total hoosier bar.
- That guy needs to put a shirt on! What a hoosier!
- Did you see that mullet? What a hoosh! (This is the shortened version of our STL slang.)
- Oh, you grew up in south city? Isn’t that neighborhood full of hoosiers?
You get the idea. If you Google St. Louis Hoosier, I’m sure you can find some visuals. I didn’t want to post one because I don’t want to give the impression I am making fun. I’m not. I’m part hoosier myself. This is a term I used my entire life and still do. When I moved to Chicago, I forgot my definition was not universal. I got weird looks from people, and I would get questions on why I hated Indiana so much. Even after I explained they would get it…but not really.
I never really questioned how St. Louis got started using this term. My minimal internet searches said it stemmed from a strike that occurred in St. Louis in the 1930’s. Workers were supposedly brought in from Indiana to fill in for the strikers. The term was not used as a compliment from that point on. Supposedly.
However, I will say this. Much like Indiana, there are some folks in St. Louis who wear the term like a badge of honor. They’re proud of their low brow self and give zero fucks if you like their jean shorts, no shirt, bad tattoos and Busch Light. Why? Because fuck you, they’re having a good time just livin’. You can go to your fancy sushi restaurants and drink your wine, but they’ll be in their yard grilling and chilling comfortably like a mother fucker. So long as there is a cooler of beer, they’re having a good time. You don’t need to go out of your way to try and impress a hoosier. They’d prefer it if you don’t, actually. You just need to provide a place where they can wear comfortable clothes, have a few cold beers, listen to good tunes and keep their good times attitude. It’s really that simple.
Being that I grew up in south city for the first 23 years of my life…I will forever have a little bit of the hoosier in me. It keeps me grounded. I’ve opened up my world and have experienced the high end lifestyle and everything in between. Being part hoosier keeps everything into perspective. It doesn’t allow you to take yourself too seriously. This is a good thing.
I get asked sometimes when I introduce my St. Louis friends to my Chicago friends why they’re so fun and awesome. I often hear, “They’re so down to earth and treated me like we were old friends.” I just say it’s because they’re from St. Louis. But what I really mean is, we have a little bit of that hoosier lifestyle in us. That’s just how we roll. Everyone is a friend and everywhere can be turned into a good time.