Sunday, March 6, 2016

"My South: God Never Made A Better Country."

I was born north of Boston.  Not by much, but still North of NORTH!  So I am, by some rights a thoroughbred Yankee.

My father was in the Navy, and his ship was in the Boston Navy Yard for refit and modernization.  This was 1940 and such was in great demand for the US Navy.  He himself was a Floridian, but that's of no account to the "Yankee!" yellers.

I have lived 'up there' for a while, on one job or another and find I have no attachment for the place, the people, or their ways.  I have never missed New England.  Not one bit.  But this is not to be a tirade against that place or people.

Rather I'd like to speak about the South . . . my South.  I've lived and worked in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, and now these past 35 years, Texas.  My heart, indeed my soul, is embedded in the red clay and black sandy loam of South Carolina, the Caliche of Texas,  I am bound to Old Dixie by the very fibre of my being.  The sound of a Red Bone at a distance, the 'chop' of a good Walker at a hard run; the scent of a pot of beans properly prepared; deer meat and rice in an iron kettle in the damp woods on a cold November day in the Low Country.  Hot Cornbread 'n Coffee of a mornin', maybe a dollop of honey on the bread.

The tall pines rising up to the stars, soft needle bed underfoot, heavy oaks draped with Spanish Moss in the moonlight.The sudden breath of warm air deep in the woods on a frosty February night late.   That scent tells you to holler, real quick and real loud, "We're just gonna call the dogs and go home now!"  and that deep, deep voice from out of the blackness, "That's a good Idea, boys!"  So the horn blows, once, twice, and we don't breathe until we hear the dogs coming.  "Thankee, Lord, Thankee!"

Moving through the thick tangles of Low Country summertime jungle, `hot and humid ain't in it . . . swimming more like it.  So thick you have to go single file and dodge the 'slap' of the branch ahead.  'Hold Up' vines every where. Bugs as big as Beagles.  The thrill of fear that the next step might fall on a big Copperhead, or Pineland Rattler, or even a Cottonmouth.  Come dark, hearing the 'Gators out beyond the light, red eyes sometimes visible.

And then there's the hogs, big brutes, vicious, fearless, run right over you and tear you up a bunch!  Yassah! Dey some fierce, dey is, fo' sho'.  Uncle Charlie with his single barrel 12 gauge J C Higgins thirty inch full choke, he can shoot quicker than me with my pump gun. "Got 'free shells r'at y'ere", stuck through his fingers like cigars.  Double Ought Buck.  "Yassah, d'em woirks jus' fine on dem deer an' dem hog."  No fancy camo, no tree stands or ladders, Bib Overhauls,  old street shoes, well washed Khaki shirt buttoned all the way up, sleeves down and buttoned, too. Bag o' Red Man and a drink bottle of tea . . . I think.

 Gordonton, North Carolina.

Saturday night at Junior's store, Ryan's Well, Mississippi.  Warm, sultry Mizzippi summer night.  Crowd of folks  gathered around the big ol' Oak out front, pickups backed in, tailgates down.  A bunch of guys 'tunin' up and pretty soon somebody runs a riff and some real, honest to god Mizzippi blues drifts through the leaves and branches of that old tree.  "Nuthin' wrote down, nuthin recorded. We jus' plays!"  No CD's for sale, no Tee Shirts.  There's chicken and catfish plates, slaw and 'tater salad, beans an' biscuit.  Woodrow has some 'likker' in his trunk, if you wants some.

Kids runnin' around, dogs chasin' em.  Men, Women, Black and White, enjoy the evening, share Chocolate pie, a few beers - names no one's likely ever heard of outside Itawamba County.  Sure as hell ain't Michelob or Corona. Somebody starts a Country tune and everybody plays and sings.  Big Redneck yells do some 'Gatemouth'! and they do.  Come mornin' they'll all be at Church, Bethel AME;  Missionary Baptist down by Redbud Creek, Next Saturday, they'll all be back here,

That's a glimpse of my South.  No Bill Clintons, no Atlanta beehive congestion, no Charlotte glass towers.

There's more, the hills of Western Carolina, Mount Skyuka, the backroads through the mountains and along the ridges; icy cold, fast water, the Chauga, Chatuga and quiet little villages way off the interstate.  I remember all this and I love all this, and I love the people who lived there, and who 'done right' 'cause it was right! God never made a better country.



  1. To Dick:

    Absolutely wonderful and I'll send it around! Where do you live now, Sir?


    Texas now, these thirty five years gone. March 6th, Texas Independence Day, 1836, 1861, and Soon!

    And thank you, Sir.

    Y'all know, I was in the South Carolina Guard, Georgia Guard, Mississippi Guard, and Texas Guard; and the Army Reserve in North Carolina, Loved all that, too!


    If you ever get to eastern NC, please come visit! :)

  2. Our South is certainly one of God's great blessings. America is in a lot of trouble right now and I pray that as Americans we find a way to solve the problem facing us. God Bless America and let us be forever thankful for having such a great country to live in.

  3. Shared and thank ya all kindly. Texas born and proud.

  4. ...thank you for sharing. Although moving back west, for work and trying to keep family close; our hearts are still in west Georgia.
    My sons came of age in Douglas County, my daughter is still 'GRITS' - girl raised in the south. Dixie is a place in the heart, as much or more as a physical location...
    "we say grace, and we say ma'am;and if you ain't into that, we don't give a damn".

    1. "we say grace, and we say ma'am;and if you ain't into that, we don't give a damn".

      Absolutely, Sir and thanks.

  5. I am lucky enough to live about 12 miles from Gordonton, NC in Roxboro NC

    1. The place is still standing and there are pictures of in on the Internet. I have often wished someone would save it and maybe that could be you! :)

    2. Anon@5:58 - You wouldn't happen to know a gentleman named Gregg Brann from Roxboro, would you? I served in Germany with him.

  6. On the trail, chirping on the box for tom, granddad's remington at the ready....

    Mom's biscuits and red eye to wake up to....

    The blast of the orange blossoms reminding that pickin' is comin'...

    As a fourth generation Floridian its a pleasure to read someone who 'gets' the South.

  7. O Yes, the real south, nothing like it. God threw away the blueprints after he made it. And with God's help it will last .

    1. And with God's help it will last .

      Amen and we shall do the best we can.

  8. I was born and raised on Oregon. I've been halfway around the world but never East of the Mississippi. Through all the years and all the miles I've felt a "connection" to the South. I couldn't explain it until I happened upon a town in N.C. named for one of my forebears.
    I'm old now and travel is difficult and expensive so I'll probably never get there but at least I know why I feel as I do.
    Thank you - ALL of you - for keeping the faith!

  9. State of Virginia here. A warm summer's evenin' catchin' lightnin' bugs in a jar. Jogs my memory of a day half a century past.. My dad, 82nd Airborne WWII.............
    It was '61 or '62, I was 11, 12 years old. We had a cocker mix who like all dogs would bark at the mailman. She'd never move towards him, just stand off a ways and bark.....all 15 lbs. of her. One day the mailman walked over to her and kicked her breaking several of her ribs. Unfortunately for him, my old man was standing just inside the screen door watching it happen. To this day all these years later, I remember that mailman's high pitched screams as my old man bitch slapped and kicked him for half a block. But the best part of the memory is while the sheriff was handcuffin' his hands behind his back, he looked up at me standin' on the porch and....winked. Man of the South he was. And though I'm not half the man he am I.

    1. though I'm not half the man he am I.

      I am sure one half is more than sufficient. Thanks.

  10. Born in Michigan and moved to the South at 16. Left long enough to put in a 4 year hitch in the Air Force and then came back and married a Southern girl. I'm not sorry to say that I don't miss Michigan, it is a former shell of itself. Been here for 40 years and would truly love to have 40 more.
    God bless the South.

  11. Hi Brock,
    'Remind's me.. over at McDaniel's Crossroads just east of Roseboro is the Old School. A One room School House an next to it was the general Store with the "Post Office" just inside the entrance. I think it's the 1st or 2nd Saturday they have the "Old School Sorgham Festival" there!!! This is just a few miles from where me an Peggy lived!! They'd get Sorgham from the local farmers, grind it on an old mule drawn grinder and cook it down!!! "SORGHAM!!!" syrup,,,,great on pancakes or anything else!!
    'A bunch of old Tractors and farm equiment on display.....Soe guy started up his old john Deere (Onelunger!!" (Pock,Pock,Pock!!!) and drove it around!! The sound was music to my ears from the local farms from when I grew up!! Google"Old School Sorgham Festival!!!" It's just down the road a piece from ya'!!
    Blue Skies,
    PS 'Got one jug left....stuck my finger in and tasted....Still Good!! MMMMMMMMMM!!!!!

    1. (Pock,Pock,Pock!!!)

      :) Wonderful. We also had a Farmall, two mules and Belgian stud which I have a picture of and makes me want to get back to My South away from this horrid land of CA, not to say there aren't aren't any redeeming factors here, but few and far between. Definitely, not the land I love. Here's to the land of the long leaf pine,: The summer land where the sun doth shine,: