The True Story of Hunk•Ta•Bunk•Ta®

When I was a child, my parents, brother, sister, aunties, uncles, 13 cousins and 6 dogs, (plus one scrawny stray cat named “Tidbit”), gathered every single Sunday at my grandmother’s house for lunch.  While the biscuits baked, the potatoes boiled and the chicken fried, all the grown-ups chatted inside while the children played in the yard. Rain or wind, sun or snow, we were a wild and giggly bunch, who made such a ruckus no one could get our attention, except for our grandmother— or “Gran” as she preferred to be called.  She did it by opening up the kitchen door, cupping both hands around her lips, and hollering:

“KICK-ta-bill-icky/all-uh-guh-LOCK-sta/HUNK-TA-BUNK-TA Boo. YOOO-Hooooo!”

That was her special way of letting us know it was time to eat. Turns out Gran learned the phrase from her great-grandmother. That means that today it’s at least 250 years old, though nobody knows (or can remember) where it came from, who said it first, or what it really means. It could be Welsh, because Gran’s great-grandmother grew up in Wales. It might be Chinese, Farsi, Eskimo or some African dialect or just about anything else.  Maybe someone just used the sounds, put them together and made up the phrase. If you ever happen to hear it or find out anything about it, please share it! Once I heard it I never forgot it, and the same thing might happen to you. So if you learn it and pass it along to your children’s children, and so on and so on…who knows how many birthdays it could celebrate! The End (NOT!).

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