SLS I was born, like everyone else, in a particular place. Alabama: not just a Southern state, but The Heart of Dixie, where vowels are long and round. I spent my early years in the woods (without a gun) searching for answers to how the universe works to explain to myself how I could survive it….
Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born and raised in the South Carolina Low Country in a swamp so think that airplanes had to shift into low gear to fly over it. I retrieved the bones of Quentin Compson from the Charles River and made a rocking chair from them. I…
Southern Legitimacy Statement: I’d like to tell you about the poorly shrouded frost-burnt parrot carcass stashed in a friend’s grandmother’s freezer, but it’s not my story to share. I do tell on my housemates’ haints all the time, though, because somebody’s gotta thumb-wrestle all them tales into line; not having…
My Southern Legitimacy Statement: Born at James Walker Memorial Hospital in Wilmington, NC to a Southern father and a ex-pat mother (Pennsylvania Dutch from Tulpehocken Township). Grew up at Carolina Beach, where except for Sundays we went barefoot or in flip-flops nine months of the year – except, of course,…
Southern Legitimacy Statement: My southern roots are sown in the coastal island of St. John’s, just off of the beautiful peninsula known as Charleston, South Carolina. Though born in Harlem, New York – Charleston is the birthplace of both my parents. My summers spent there under the tutelage of my…
When asked to read to celebrate my new book of memoirs, I let the audience enter the cubicle from where the work came. I told them: I’ll celebrate with you by telling you what I know, how it is with me, what I am, what has made me this way;…
Southern Legitimacy Statement: I’ve swallowed moonshine and lived to brag about it; escaped a copperhead’s randy tongue; ridden a tobacco setter like some rogue elephant; eaten fresh-caught bluegill at dawn; been romanced by a choir of whippoorwills; and fallen asleep amid a lightning bug circus. Wouldn’t live anywhere else.
Southern Legitimacy Statement river town sleepy town cajuncreole spicy foods filé gumbo sultry air pop guns china berry trees joie de vivre laissez bon temps rouler
Southern Legitimacy Statement: There is a warmness to the South. Beyond the obvious, the steamy summers and Goddawful humidity, its native peoples don’t hesitate to pass the offering plate for Ms Jenny’s nephew who came down with a dreadful ailment or to stand shirtless in January to get folks to…
SLS: Though I was not born or raised in the South, I have lived in Georgia, Texas, and in North Carolina, while I was in the U.S. Army. I may not know much, but I know enough to never refer to the “South” as a single homogeneous geographic location. I…
Southern Legitimacy Statement: I hereby swear that I love my MaMaw and see her about once a year. I know where the Mason-Dixon line is supposed to be though I have never been able to actually find it while traveling. I have nothing against grits so long as they ain’t…
SLS – I’ve swallowed moonshine and lived to brag about it; escaped a copperhead’s randy tongue; ridden a tobacco setter like some rogue elephant; eaten fresh-caught bluegill at dawn; been romanced by a choir of whippoorwills; and fallen asleep amid a lightning bug circus. Wouldn’t live anywhere else
Southern Legitimacy Statement: I’m from a small town just outside Cowtown (Fort Worth to those who don’t know better), with white gravel roads that claimed my front teeth one time and the skin off my knees and hands a few more times. I’m from a place that meant running around with no shirt or shoes from May to September, trips to Mott’s 5 and 10, and visits to grandma down around Houston to work the fields, each her famous drop cookies, and help her cook pie or cobbler or wild grape jelly. Dad was a cop and mom stayed home, and I’m still close by, though the town has changed and the light in town has a few new friends and a new toll road for competition. The fire department closest is still volunteer and football will always be king on Friday night.
Southern Legitimacy Statement
Ma-Ma would take Bo and me digging for sassafras roots in the woods next door. She would boil the roots and then we would drink the hot “tea” ’cause Aint Essie said it would keep ya reglar.”She stopped a horse from bleedin’, ya know? Tom Waters brought his horse over, pourin’ blood outa his neck. Aint Essie went ’round the back of the house and when she come back, that horse ‘ad stopped bleedin’.”
We dug potatoes, too. She had on her lipstick and floral print dress. As soon as we came out of the garden, she put her heels back on – black patent leather – and put the potatoes on to boil. “We havin’ old timey pataters and lemon marengue pie.” She watched wrestling while she ironed the sheets.
Then she took me over to Aint Correll’s. We were going to get my wart taken off. I was five. We drove round a dirt driveway up to a little house and an old man came out. Flowers everywhere and trees and a bench swing hanging on a rusty old swing set. They talked a minute and then he gently asked me to go sit with him on the swing. He held a leaf in his hand, twirling it round between his finger and thumb. “Suzan, this hyere’s a peach leaf. Come off ‘at peach tree righttare.” Silence. “D’you b’lieve I can take off that wort from your hand, thare?” “Yessir” “Well, hold out chur hand and lemme just rub this leaf hyere on yer wort, like this. See. Now, when you wake up tomorra, yur wort’s gonna be gone. D’you b’lieve me, Suzan?” “Yessir.”
My wort was gone the next day.
I think my southern legitimacy is evident!
Where I’m From (My Southern Legitimacy Statement)
after George Ella Lyons
I am from a back porch, from Coca-Cola and accidental parallel fingertip slits from my curiosity of discovering our first air conditioner’s condenser coil.
I am from the closetless, socketless, south-facing bedroom.
I am from the chinaberry and the redbud, from the mimosa, the looper caterpillars dangling in fine, translucent strands from its branches.
I am from first Sunday in May and first Sunday in June and close reading of scripture, from Byrum and Welton and Portis.
I am from working by the job and not the hour and from finding the next thing to do,
From “cry me a handful so I can feed the chickens” and “washed in the blood.”
I am from the belief that “born again” is a change of character and a political liability.
I’m from Cullman County and Morgan County, almond pound cake and corn meal dressing.
From Uncle William’s fishing too close to the locks when the TVA decided to release water from the hydroelectric dam, Aunt Kate’s refusing to try the home-canned pickles until only one jar was left and her crying about it, my parents’ eloping across the state line to Iuka, Mississippi, on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1956.
I am from the middle kitchen cabinet drawer, below the medications and above the dishtowels, in an envelope box of snapshots with edges worn as hammer handles, smooth as seasoned skillets, frayed as pockets.
Southern Legitimacy Statement
Hey, yall. I was born in the Heart of Dixie, Lower Alabama, or LA, as the natives like to call it. I cut my teeth on my Granny’s lard biscuits and drooled over her blackberry cobblers and egg custard and sweet potato pies. Cornbread was fried, made to look like little golden doughnuts, hole in the middle and all. I’ve picked cotton (made $1.10 for a whole day’s work, I was only 6), blackberries, peas and butterbeans, and I’ve gone to the mayhaw groves where they laid old worn-out sheets on the dirt beneath the trees. They shook the trees until the red-orange little berries fell to the ground. Best danged jelly you will ever want to eat! The Peanut Festival and the Boll Weevil Monument are part of my vocabulary. All night Gospel sings and Sacred Harp sings were two of my favorite things. Catching fireflies in an old Mason jar was a typical summer eve’s activity. I’ve eaten scrambled eggs with pork brains, and every true southerner knows that the fish roe was the best part of the fish! Being southern does have its perks, now, doesn’t it?
The Red Crochet Skirt When I found the faded photograph of me taken forty-something years ago wearing the red crocheted skirt, I remembered the balls of red yarn bought one a time from Newberry’s Five and Dime. I remember the evenings, watching that flashing silver hook pulling yards of string…
My daddy got branded on a day in a southern summer hot enough to make a plow mule kick, and that’s just what happened along a dusty old road, Daddy out to fetch the mail with my uncle marvin, his older brother. Maybe that old mule got a fly or…
Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I was born in Houston, Texas January 4, 1950 when there were so many babies born my mother was on a cot out in the hall. I was premature and not expected to thrive so was placed in an incubator with another baby, a boy. My name was supposed to be “Sharon Rose” but when the woman with the clipboard came to my unconscious mother, my grandmother told he my name was to be “Sharon…..and…”. I am grateful to this day my name became Sharon Ann and not Sharon And. I later shortened it to Shann for what I thought were good reasons. We weren’t poor, we were genteel, though sometimes before payday I remember eating cereal with water, giving my dad babysitting money I made so he could buy gas (and it was cheap then). I could go on about moving to Virginia in 1971 after attending the University of Arizona, but I plan to tell that story in a different way when I figure it all out.
We will miss Shann’s unique vision, her poetic voice, and her gentle spirit.
For my southern legitimacy statement, I’d say, my name is Pepper, which has caused me much grief living in the DC area, but made a lot of sense in my home of Mississippi, where I was born and grew up. There it was warm and unpretentious. Here it’s silly and people will say things like, “what’s a grown man doing with the name Pepper?”
I know that my Southern legitimacy may be marginal, having lived my whole life in a border state, but thanks to my North Carolinian grandmother, my father’s family name was Bubba, and we only ever vacationed in Morehead City. And I reckon that my hometown of Indian Head, MD had adequately Southern sensibilities. I am hopeful that my SLS effectively expresses my honest affection for the people amongst whom I grew up.
Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was raised on a narrow neck of land between the Potomac River and the Mattawoman Creek, in a town where the eggs were never poached but the venison very likely had been.