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Cabbage
01-19-2000, 09:10 PM
A couple of years ago my aunt asked me about the meaning of this slang phrase; I had no idea. She had been standing in a checkout line in the DC area, and an elderly black lady told the cashier, "Oh, I'm as poor as a heehank." I have no idea how "heehank" should be spelled, or what it means, but that's what it sounded like.

Has anybody else ever heard this, or any similar sounding phrase, used?

Ursa Major
01-19-2000, 09:25 PM
Is it possible that Heehank is a proper noun. The Heehanks might have been that family that lived down by the railroad tracks in an abandoned switchman's shack. You know, the ones with the dirty, shoeless children who dug through the trash looking for coke bottles they could return for the deposit?

Cabbage
01-19-2000, 10:53 PM
Hmmm...that hadn't occurred to me, I suppose it is possible. Anybody else have any ideas?

RM Mentock
01-20-2000, 02:17 AM
You know, the ones with the dirty, shoeless children who dug through the trash looking for coke bottles they could return for the deposit?

That would've been "poor as a mentock"

Your aunt should have gotten her to write it down. I think she was saying "poor as a stockinger" but sneezed.

.

wildreign
07-24-2011, 05:44 PM
I realize this message was left years ago but this is still hilarious because I was surfing for a definition of a hee hank My mother laughs and says "she is as poor as a hee hank" I have no idea what that is ----- We just laugh, there are so many sayings----"uglier than a mud fence" "not worth what the rat left in the mill barrel" we have grown up with this country stuff and we would be asking for definitions all day if we started ---- I will ask her what a he hank is though and post it.

Darth Panda
07-24-2011, 05:53 PM
Finally, Cabbage will be able to sleep at night.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
07-24-2011, 06:11 PM
I missed this thread when it was new, but now that I've seen it, I'm going to use the phrase at every opportunity.

Crazyhorse
07-24-2011, 06:35 PM
Here's what a Baton Rouge, LA. columnist named Smiley Anders said (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:d72I3bBdw98J:www.2theadvocate.com/columnists/smiley/52135842.html+%22hehank%22&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&client=firefox-a&source=www.google.com):


“In answer to Nell Thompson’s question about the meaning of 'hehank'(in ‘broke as a 'hehank'):

“My in-laws would say the same thing, but called it a ‘he haint’. Haint is Southern for haunt. I believe a 'he haint' is a male ghost. And he would certainly be broke, since a ghost can’t earn a living.”

BigT
07-24-2011, 10:39 PM
So I guess God gives out money to the women ghosts?

Crazyhorse
07-24-2011, 10:51 PM
So I guess God gives out money to the women ghosts?

He gave no money to church mice, but put no such financial restrictions on other mice. And how about barn owls living in forced sobriety while hoot owls get to have all the fun?

It's an expression. I don't claim that cite is conclusive but it might be a start.

For example it references 'broke as a he hank' rather than 'poor as a he hank' - that may open up a new branch in the search for the origin. Personally, I'm happy to take Smiley's word for it until I see a better cite.

panache45
07-24-2011, 11:34 PM
"He haint" could possibly be short for "He hain't got nuthin'."

Crazyhorse
07-25-2011, 12:33 AM
Here's (http://www.davenportfilms.com/pages/doc_bfhlscript.html) another cite of it being used in a documentary called Born For Hard Luck (http://www.folkstreams.net/film,1) - "A portrait of Arthur 'Peg Leg' Sam" Jackson"

In this case he uses both "broke as a haint" and "broke as a he-haint"

You know how long I had money? come up to Jacksonville, down on Oakland Avenue -- ONE night, I was broke, in Jacksonville. As broke as a haint, just like I was when I got on the ship that other time. After them three years. No abcess, no more abcess on my pocket. Hungry again. Yeah, bumming around for a while, did odd jobs, this, that, and the other, you know. But that was a funny thing. THREE years I done saved up. TWO days after I quit work, broke as a he-haint in Georgia Yeah!

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
05-29-2014, 07:27 AM
You can see it here (http://www.folkstreams.net/film,1). This line of dialogue happens around 10:50.