Category: Essays / Memoirs

Public Domain by Glenda Beall

The Southern Legitimacy Statement of Glenda C. Beall.

Having grown up on a farm in south Georgia, I learned to drive a tractor when I was six. At fourteen, I passed my daddy’s driving test, when I conquered the red mud-rutted road to our house. My favorite toys were Daddy’s Bull Durham bags and empty matchboxes. I grew up on sweet iced tea, fresh yard eggs, grits, homemade biscuits and Mayhaw jelly. My home is still in the south, but in the mountains now. And folks here sell yard eggs, put up vegetables in the summer, and help out their neighbors when they can.
I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

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Snakes in the Kitchen by Donald Harbour

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
Being Southerner is a frame of mind. A view of the world, neighbors, friends and family filtered through words, thoughts, and deeds of the people that have raised you. I was fortunate to have grandparents that lived a Southern life in Arkansas where I have lived off and on since 1948. Grandpa taught me how to plow a field with a team of mules, what leaves and herbs to gather from the woods and fields to make healing poultices and teas. Grandma taught that hands were for gentle touches, caring for those you love, and cooking the best pan of biscuits any human has ever eaten. There is a lot more but when I think back over 68 years my memories are of those simple things that have shaped my life and given me the values of a Southern man. What a great way to live.

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Solitaire by Bob Thomas

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I’ve spent, summer afternoons plucking honeysuckle blossoms and sucking the sugary sweet nectar from them.
I’ve gnawed Louisiana sugar cane until the last drop of sugar ran down my chin.
I’ve patiently licked all of the honey out of a honeycomb, and chewed the wax like gum for hours.
I’ve eaten ginger bread with lemon sauce. I’ve eaten Pralines, beignets, home made hand cranked ice cream, bread pudding, rice pudding, lemon pie, key lime pie, pineapple upside down cake, pecan pie, watermelons by the ton, cantaloupe, persimmons, figs, strawberries, Muscatine’s, fresh picked Georgia peaches and Florida oranges. . . all before 1953 when I was 10 years old. (…more within the essay)

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Terri French – When Pig Flies

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
It’s been almost a quarter of a century that I have lived in the south. I am an almost legitimate, 100-percent, bona fide, honest to goodness, dixie chick. Sure as a cat’s got climbing gear, I am as country as a churn. These hills ‘n hollers, this red clay, is my neck of the woods, my stompin’ grounds, my. . .Ok, so I’m trying too hard. I’ve still got a few months left to get the Yankee out of me, ok?

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Stephen March: My Dream of Magic

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born about 100 miles South of the Mason Dixon line, and soon moved farther South, to Tennessee. I later lived in Louisiana, Georgia and, especially North Carolina. At a party in Soho a woman onced asked me, “If I woke you up in the middle of the night would you still talk that way (i.e. with that accent)? I told her that I would!

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Joshua Edds: Epiphany on the Waccamaw

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I am from everywhere and nowhere, a country boy lost in the city. The gods cursed me; my poor soul violently ripped from the warm embrace of my native West Virginia and hurled into exile. In my exile I’ve wandered aimlessly around the country, managing to settle down briefly in one strange place or another—the Kentucky coal fields, the drug-infested slums of the Carolina upstate, and now fondly call the bars and clubs of the Grand Strand nightlife “home.”

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Carole Poppleton – Rituals of Beauty

I grew up on grits, greens and biscuits with sawmill gravy. I never knew vegetables could be cooked without pork fat (strained and recycled from my mom’s Maxwell House coffee can) until I went away to college. One of the highlights of my childhood was driving throught the streets of Birmingham, AL, and giggling at the crack of Vulcan’s ass as an enormous statue of the iron god sits atop the main hill in 5-Points South.

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Ray Clifton – Zombies in the South

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up in the southern edge of the Blue Ridge in central Alabama, the product of a father from the cotton mill village and a mother who lived on the “respectable” side of the railroad tracks. A forester by trade, I roam the back roads of Alabama meeting people and looking for stories. Besides reading and writing, my interests include old country music, motorcycles, pork barbecue, and fine Boxer bulldogs.

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Alberto Alzamora – Conversations with Dad

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
My Latino roots offer a unique perspective to my Southern legitimacy. I was raised so far in the South it’s not even the South to many, that’s how far south I lived, Miami to be exact. Eventually I moved up with you “northerner’s” to Raleigh, North Carolina, and was introduced to a pig pickin’ almost immediately. My friendly neighbors weren’t impressed about how we Colombians do the exact same thing, but they were awful polite! So here I am, a stranger in a strange land, 5 years now. I say hey, not good morning, and my wife is hot on the trail of the best hushpuppy recipe she can find. Legitimacy established!

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