Andy Fogle : Edward, an essay

I was born Paul Andrew Fogle in Norfolk VA and grew up in Virginia Beach, and as far back as I know all but 2 threads of my family in the U.S. are from either Virginia or Mississippi: my paternal great grandfather was from Philadelphia and it is rumored that my maternal great grandfather “had people from Maine.”

As a Virginian since birth, I am fascinated by these two trickles of exotic Northern blood. As a temporary upstate New Yorker (10 years and running is temporary), I have noticed some quaint and backward ways amongst these people. They cannot seem to understand that I go by my middle name. I have signed work e-mails, “Andy” and have been replied to with “Thanks, Paul.” Forgive my mid-Atlantic superiority, but I consider this the height of ignorance.

I say “howdy” although none of my relatives ever have. I suppose I get that from the TV.

My high school students think my accent and yalling is cute. They think I drink moonshine and they’re right, at least they were twice in my life. My son once asked my wife if I spoke English. The main thrust behind this query was my pronouncing “ham” as if it had two syllables. Apparently the vowel in my pronunciation of “pie” is also alien. What does the boy want from me?

There is a devilishly good chicken place up here, started in 1938 by a woman from Louisiana. I hadn’t had my Mississippi grandmother’s fried chicken in years, and when I first had a bite of Hattie’s–by myself one cold rainy night–I almost cried it was so close. T

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Becky Meadows “Three Seconds”

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!

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Erin Kelly “Sound No Trumpet”

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I talk slow. I eat etouffee, jambalaya and boudin. I’ve clapped my hands to gospel in hot, crowded churches, and visited Catholic psychics. I’ve gone through many Louisiana winters in short sleeves and shorts.

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Barbara Nishimoto “Identifying Trees”

Southern Literacy Statement

I was born and raised in the North, but now have lived most of my adult life in the South. When I first moved my mother acted as though I were moving to another country and told me all the stories she had collected from the tabloids she loved. When she visited during the summer she rolled and tied a hand towel around her head, a desperate hachimaki, and stuffed tissues around its edges to catch the sweat before it fell into her eyes and down her cheeks. “Eight o’clock at night is the same as three o’clock in the afternoon,” she said. “That’s why horses go crazy and impale themselves.”

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Diane Thomas-Plunk “The Call”

SLS — Born and raised in Memphis, Diane Thomas-Plunk is highly skilled in the three B’s of Memphis — blues, barbecue and beer. These may be enjoyed individually, in various pairings, or — best yet — all together.

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Katherine La Mantia “Vines”

Southern Legitimacy Statement: In elementary school, a boy named Jedediah taught me how to drink the nectar from the honeysuckle blossoms by pinching the end of the flower. My mother stared at me for a full three seconds the first time she ever heard me say “yall.” I stared at her even longer when I first heard her say it, too.

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