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Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday's Musings on All Things Southern

I stood before the nearly 200 conferees, ready to give the opening keynote at the Write to Publish 2012 conference. Over the past twenty-four hours, this Southern girl, in the midst of more Northerners than she could count, became very much aware of the differences in dialect and ways with words. More than once I'd had to explain "what I meant by that."

"I don't believe I've ever heard that saying," someone would remark, and in such a way as to ask me to explain further.

So I began by telling the group about my life growing up in a small Mayberry-type town where there were primarily two choices when it came to religion; you were either Baptist or Methodist. (Yes, we had other denominations there, but that came later on in my life and it didn't add to the story I was about to tell, so ...)

"On Sundays, if we Methodists were lucky, the preacher cut his sermon short by a half a point so we could make it to the Town House Restaurant before the Baptists," I said. "Now, the Town House had these incredible cinnamon rolls that came to the table before the meal, along with the rolls and the cornbread."

I went on to talk about eating at (what we often called) "Tredeau's" for the family who owned the restaurant and about going home (a second of several options) to Mama's fried chicken or a simmering pot roast.

Rose Chandler Johnson
After my keynote was done I spied a woman--short, blue-eyed, and with soft graying hair--heading toward me. Her face looked as though she were about to burst with some amazing information. "Eva Marie," she drawled, "where did you grown up?"

Instantly recognizing her Low Country accent, I told her I had grown up in a little town called Sylvania, Georgia.

"My gracious alive," she said, her eyes dancing. "I grew up in Sardis, Georgia! I thought I recognized your accent ... but when you said 'the Town House' and talked about those cinnamon rolls, I just knew we had to have grown up near each other!"

Sardis and Sylvania, you see, are about 15 minutes apart. Twenty on a bad day. Rose (my new friend) and I were joined at the hip after that. We knew all the same people, remembered all the same stories. It was like a trip back home to have a cup of coffee with my dear friend Rene Forehand. Rene knows everyone! She knows the history of everyone! She is a walking Peyton Place encyclopedia, let me tell you.

To some degree, so was Rose.

So am I.

Oh, I love this about the South! We know our own people! And we know our own stories. Even the things we'd just as soon forget, we speak of with great story-telling abilities.

We are Southerners, you see. We are family!


  1. There's a certain grace about being Southern. Simple. Slow. Like a stew simmering on the stove all day. The longer it cooks, the more tender the meat. I grew up in south Texas along the border of Mexico. While my traditions were vastly different than those in Georgia (I can only imagine the differences!), the truth of the south is still something I cherish. It's a place of smiles, iced tea, and sharing (food, stories, a place to sleep for the wayward). Thanks for reminding me of its tender beauties.

  2. Ah, that was so sweet, Eva Marie. Yes, it was my pleasure to meet you. It was such fun to talk to someone who spoke my language and grew up in my own stomping ground. (Remember those delicious little hamburgers at the drive-in theatre! by the cow pasture!) I must add that I also went up to meet you because you had just given a very touching inspirational message to us Christian writers. I appreciated that message so much. I felt like it was confirmation on so many levels--as a Christian, as a writer, and a person standing in the gap for others. Thank you for sharing from the heart.

  3. I am so glad that you found a little home amongst us Northerners! He warms our hearts in sweet ways, doesn't He?

  4. Y'all just put me back to Chattanooga Valley, Tennessee! Bea's Restaurant Diner where the food was served family style on revolving lazy susans and the drive-in where you got curb service and your choice of the "Papa burger, Mama burger or the Baby burger."