This essay was originally published in the August 1995 issue of Chronicles magazine.
Some folks have been kind enough to notice my absence from these pages, and a few have been even kinder and expressed regret at it. The fact is that my wife Dale and I are working on a book. It will be called 1001 Things Everyone Should Know about the South, and we hope to have it out before the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. The idea is to remind visitors that they’ve come to a place with a complex and fascinating history and culture. Of course, if we can sell it to even a fraction of the two million visitors that are expected, it will do good things for our bank account, too. Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing instead of writing for Chronicles, and I thought I’d give you a couple of samples, since I don’t have anything else to offer these days.
First, some items about individual Southerners. It turns out that a great many of our 1001 “things” are people—not surprising, because what’s most distinctive about the South (at least these days) is Southerners, who tend to be colorful, cantankerous, idiosyncratic, engaging folks.
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