Southern Legitimacy Statement: Becky Lee Meadows, and yes, that middle name is “Lee,” is a southern country girl all the way through. She grew up in northern Kentucky on a farm, surrounded by cows, dogs, cats, and all manner of four-legged creatures, and she loves animals to this day. She is excellent at code-switching, so she easily blends her Ph.D. in Humanities and career as a professor with eating cornbread and taters. She is not new to the Mule, having had a previous flash fiction piece, “Three Seconds,” published in June 2014.
SLS: Even if I hadn’t lived in Kentucky and western North Carolina for the past 39 years and had my six children all born here, I’d still be Southern. The following story happened on my grandparent’s place in Washington State when I was young. One day Grandma marched down from the garden with a possum by the tail. She set the inert beast on the ground and said it was dead, that she had clubbed it while it dined at the compost pile. This sort of thing was not unusual with Grandma. I tapped it with my toe and its lips curled back. I said it wasn’t dead, only pretending. It was dead, she insisted. I told her I’d prove it was alive, that I was going to dispatch, cook, and eat it. She expressed lively revulsion. My grandfather Tim had by then come out on the porch and was watching the argument. Tim had Parkinson’s and hadn’t spoken a coherent sentence in weeks, but then he said out of a clear blue sky, “Why, possum is a great Southern delicacy, my dear.” I’ll spare the interesting details except to say, the possum proved me right.
Here’s my Southern Legitimacy Statement: I could dig post holes, shovel manure and handle horses single-handed by the age of 11. I grew up on a farm 45 or so minutes from every school I attended until college. I’ve never seen my mother wear make-up and I’ve never seen my grandmother without it. I’ve been stepped on, head-butted, kicked and bitten by more kinds of livestock than most people have seen in person. The neighbor’s kids and I used to play in the hay balers in their barns, the sawdust pile in
Proving my Southern authenticity is as easy as fallin’ off a mule. I was born and raised in Cowpens, SC, a famous Revolutionary War site. For nearly five decades, I lived in a farmhouse built by my Great Grandmother Lily Kate Price. Six generations of Southerners enjoyed making family history in that 1880’s homestead. Except for some very brief times, South Carolina has remained my place of residence. I’m so Southern I bleed white sop gravy
We are creating the Poets for Spring this weekend. Helen and Valerie created a wonderful cornucopia of poetry — available soon, so very soon. Like before tax day, depending on thunderstorm activity (and yes, we have a battery backup, but …). Brand spanking new fiction and essays coming your way …
Southern Legitimacy Statement: What makes me a real Southerner? I don’t eat corn on the cob, it gets into my teeth, and takes forever to floss it out. I don’t like grits, too runny. I don’t speak like no Southerner from Aberdeen, MS (My ex-mother-in-law’s hometown, she was a cotton picker and a snuff pincher, god bless her soul).
Oh, well, I give up. I am a Southerner because I lived and continue to live in the good ole South.
I am Dexter Gore, son to a potbellied-father, who is son to a one-eyed, tobacco-rollin carpenter who fished the outbreaks of North Carolina. I was born and raised in Aynor, South Carolina, a small town with two stop lights, a gas station, and a church just a piece up the road from the liquor store. I have moved and now live in Norfolk, Virginia. There is no sweet tea. There is no chicken bog or backbone and rice. And the people here don’t say “Bless your heart,” “Yes ma’am,” and “No ma’am.” They prefer, “I feel sorry for you.” At least that’s what people tell me when I share that I’m from South Carolina.
Statement of Legitimacy:
Having been born to the daughter of a subsistence farmer, marrying into farming families and living in one Southern state all my life- so far—I can hope I have been weighed and found whole in the D. O. S. (Department of Southerness). (Some say long sentences are a Southern trait—I won’t argue with that.) While I never pulled tobacco, I have picked cotton. While I never won a dancing contest, I have shagged at the Pad in O. D. For much of my life I have known the difference in the two Southern Beaufort cities. And I remember when Wake Forest University was Wake Forest College in Wake Forest, N. C. and not Winston Salem, N. C. Let this attest to my Southerness. Thank you.
Southern Legitimacy Statement: Mom from Colbert, Georgia, where the Confederate monument has yet to be defaced. Dad from Johnson City, Tennessee. Born in Weaverville, North Carolina, where I still live today. 40 years old and still in Weaverville! Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Growing up I remember my mom saying that we couldn’t get tornados in North Carolina. ‘It was too hilly here’ she said. It seemed plausible.
Then one a day a huge tornado came through Raleigh and destroyed the Kmart.
Southern Legitimacy Statement: Son of Alabama’s Black Belt. English/Literature/Writing Instructor. Lover of black cats, good bourbon & better storytelling.
SLS: Having been born in the middle of the last century, I sometimes feel as old and worn out as some of the farmland surrounding my home. Weeds taking over my mind much as they do to fallow fields, pushing up memories with their roots. Not all of the weeds need to be pulled, but once pulled one thought leads to another and stories, if not exactly true, should be, follow.
I find more and more that the stories surround, and revolve around, the joys that are grand-kids. Having six of said creatures I have plenty of raw material to choose from. I also congratulate myself on not killing their mothers when they were teenagers, although I was sorely tempted at times.
Having been born and raised in the state of Arkansas, I don’t consider myself as a Southern Gentleman, or even a Colonel of the Old South, but rather as just a man, much as my father was, trying to do his best to do the right thing, to be kind to dogs and kids, and to be respectful to my elders, who get fewer and fewer each year.
I guess I am best summed up in the saying, “American by birth, Southern by the grace of God.” There is no other place I’d rather be.
Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I’m John Calvin Hughes, son of a son of a preacher chased out of Mississippi for plucking the flock. I’m a southern boy who moved south and found himself surrounded by Yankees. I’m in Florida. There’s not a hill in sight and the restaurants that specialize in “Real Southern Cooking” put sugar in the cornbread. My own son told me the cat pushing on his chest was “making bagels”!
“That was a nice cast, boy, your daddy’s been teaching you something right down there in Florida.” “Now, don’t start in again, Hiram. The child wasn’t the one decided to pick up and move off. We’re blessed to have him visit for the summer.” “I ain’t saying anything different, Martha, I was just commenting […]
Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up on my grandmother and grandfather’s farm, where we ate fried potatoes, green beans (cooked for an entire day or more on the stove in a pot), and cornbread. Fried chicken was a treat we enjoyed, and it was really fried—not the carbon-copy fried chicken found frozen in stores today. We ate tomatoes from the garden (straight from the garden). My southern heritage isn’t limited to food, though—I have the most marvelous southern accent that I have refused to relinquish for academia. I’m proud of my heritage!