Southern Culture

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Let’s face it.  The South here in the United States has been the butt of many jokes over the years.  Some of it is due to stereotypes that should be destroyed and my goal today is to do some of that.  It’s just unfair that so many wild and crazy rumors should exist about one part of the country and the many fine and wonderful folks who live there!

There’s the assumption that everyone in the south is a redneck.  Not true.  I saw very few people with red necks when we were there.  It’s just too plain hot in the summer for people to go outside and get their necks sunburned.

There’s a belief that southerners are unedumacated.  That’s not true, either.  There are many fine schools and universities in the south, and they even do things besides play football!

Some folks think that everyone in the south drinks iced tea on hot afternoons.  I know that can’t be true because when I’m there, I prefer Dr. Pepper.  I know one other person who doesn’t drink iced tea, too, so there!  We hope to soon become a majority!

And, of course, there’s also the common misconception that southerners sit around on the veranda and drink mint juleps or else they run around in their overalls and Big Ben shirts in their pickups (with the required gun-rack in the rear window) drinking beer all day and night.  That just isn’t so.  Today’s photo should be proof of that.  People in the south apparently also drink wine…and they use only the finest glasses, too!  Have you ever seen more sturdy wine glasses than those in today’s photo?

Nah, me neither!  I took this photo in Dahlonega, GA this past spring.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: as long as we’re on the topic of the South, check this bit of historical trivia out!

Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, one of the best-selling novels of all time and the basis for a blockbuster 1939 movie, was published on this day in 1936.

In 1926, Mitchell quit her job as a reporter at the Atlanta Journal to recover from a series of physical injuries. With so much time on her hands, she soon grew restless. Working on a Remington typewriter, a gift from her second husband, John R. Marsh, Mitchell began telling the story of an Atlanta belle named Pansy O’Hara.

In tracing Pansy’s tumultuous life from the antebellum South through the Civil War and into the Reconstruction era, Mitchell drew on the tales she had heard from her parents and other relatives, as well as from Confederate war veterans she had met as a young girl. While she was extremely secretive about her work, Mitchell eventually gave the manuscript to Harold Latham, an editor from New York’s MacMillan Publishing. Latham encouraged Mitchell to complete the novel, with one important change: the heroine’s name. Mitchell agreed to change it to Scarlett, now one of the most memorable names in the history of literature.

Published in 1936, Gone with the Wind caused a sensation in Atlanta and went on to sell millions of copies in the United States and throughout the world. While the book drew some criticism for its romanticized view of the Old South and its slave-holding elite, its epic tale of war, passion and loss captivated readers far and wide. By the time Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937, a movie project was already in the works. The film was produced by Hollywood giant David O. Selznick, who paid Mitchell a record-high $50,000 for the film rights to her book.

After testing hundreds of unknowns and big-name stars to play Scarlett, Selznick hired British actress Vivien Leigh days after filming began. Clark Gable was also on board as Rhett Butler, Scarlett’s dashing love interest. Plagued with problems on set, Gone with the Wind nonetheless became one of the highest-grossing and most acclaimed movies of all time, breaking box office records and winning nine Academy Awards out of 13 nominations.

Though she didn’t take part in the film adaptation of her book, Mitchell did attend its star-studded premiere in December 1939 in Atlanta. Tragically, she died just 10 years later, after she was struck by a speeding car while crossing Atlanta’s Peachtree Street.Scarlett, a relatively unmemorable sequel to Gone with the Wind written by Alexandra Ripley, was published in 1992.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Why are people in the public eye said to be ‘in the limelight’? Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and theaters by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theater, a performer ‘in the limelight’ was the center of attention.

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2 thoughts on “Southern Culture”

  1. My southern-born and raised parents, now in their mid 80’s like to watch the Rural tv channel. There’s a show on there called “Larry’s Country Diner” that I believe is broadcast from Bransom, MO. “Larry” hosts country singers and other guests in his make-believe diner while sitting behind the counter in an apron. Larry always has a large glass of sweetened ice tea in a glass that is identical to the one’s in your photo. I haven’t been to Mississippi since my dad celebrated his 80th birthday there in October of 2007. But I can tell you without a doubt that anyone who met my relatives would definitely qualify them as ‘rednecks’ . They eat typical southern food, dress in overalls, own hound-dogs and go deer hunting in the woods for deer racks to hang in and around their cabin. My father’s family has been living in the south for several generations, they have owned slaves, worked the land, married with native-americans, fought for the Confederacy, and they do everything at a much slower pace than us when it comes to talking and walking. They are overweight to the point of obesity, own large numbers of dogs and cats that roam their property freely along with other farm critters. And one thing I will always remember is sitting on the porch in the early evening, in chairs or on the porch swing, waving to strangers or neighbors that drive by on the rural gravel road. Someone would hand-crank the ice cream maker, another would go out to the watermelon patch and pick out a couple of ripe melons then ice them down in a galvanized tub. We’d eat them later, with salt and spit the seeds onto the front lawn then throw the rinds towards the hog pens. If you’ve ever enjoyed Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy material “You might be a Redneck if….” Well, those lines are more fact than fiction.

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