- Important: All passwords were reset on 06/15/11. Old passwords will no longer work. Click here to retrieve your password.
- Subscribe to Our Free Dewsletter
We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
Taking Drastic Steps
The signs were small at first. I didn’t really realize what was going on. I started enunciating the ending R on words like summer and dinner. I would ask people from deep in the Confederacy to repeat phrases to me. Hollywood southern accents began to sound authentic.
Even when the problem became obvious, I denied it. There was no way this could happen to someone like me. I was a smart man aware of his surroundings. It just wasn’t possible. The final straw was watching Sweet Home Alabama and thinking it was a cute movie. The next day I started paying attention to my speech patterns and realized I was clearly pronouncing my G’s. I had to get help.
I wallowed in self pity for a few days; making excuses, denying how bad things were and trying to justify the change. I see Yankees all day long. My best buddy is from Ohio. The Woman Whose Garbage I’m Responsible For was born in Michigan and spent four decades in South Carolina without picking up a drawl. I need to speak clearly and succinctly to communicate with my customers. It was pathetic.
While vacationing in Ireland I looked inward while listening to a harp player at the Cliffs of Moher and knew I had to do something. That and using succinctly in a sentence. I met a guy from Alabama in a Holiday Inn Express elevator just before we came home. I took it as a sign to get my life back in order.
The first day back I fought off jet lag long enough to drop by Publix and pick up a package of dried Lima beans. We call them butter beans in Alabama. Last weekend, after spending the day watching SEC football, listening to Levon Helm and Lucinda Williams, and reading a little Rick Bragg, I was ready to make things right.
I put half of the butter beans in a pot of water and let them soak overnight. They swelled up real good. The next afternoon, I dropped a couple of pieces of bacon in the pot with fresh water and started a slow boil. At first I was going to use fatback but was a little leery of an overdose, so I used the bacon. I whipped up a pone of cornbread in my iron skillet forged in Birmingham and waited for everything to be ready.
I grew up on what later became known as soul food. The recipes were passed down; roots and tradition dripped from every mouthful. I have stretched my culinary envelope as I‘ve gotten older and drifted away from many of the dishes that anchor me to my heritage.
It became obvious to me I was losing my southerness and needed to take drastic steps. Butter beans and cornbread worked for me because I haven’t had any in such a long time. Like shock treatment. The first taste melted years away and reconnected a link to my past that had nearly rusted away.
That evening I stopped the television carousel on an episode of Andy Griffith. The next morning when I stretched y’all out for three syllables, I knew I was back to normal.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
More than a century ago the “forgotten man” of Mississippi and across the South — the farmer, the common worker — decided he’d had enough of “Wall Street speculators who gambled on his crop futures; the railroad owners who evaded his taxes, bought legislatures, and over-charged him with discriminate rates; the manufacturers, who taxed him with a high tariff; the trusts that fleeced him with high prices; the middleman, who stole his profit.” The forgotten man was so angry, historian C. Vann Woodward goes on to say, that he created a movement. It came as close to toppling our two-party system as any effort Read on →
July 24, Thursday afternoon, 3:30. The July sun bears down with no mercy. The humidity’s high and the terrain rough and remote. To the northwest a cloudbank promises relief but relief never comes. We drive on in no need of windshield wipers. Robert Clark and I are miles from city life headed deep into the Francis Marion National Forest. To reach our destination, we turn off US Highway 17 onto State Highway 45. We drive for miles looking for Halfway Creek Road. Our directions, scribbled onto the back of an envelope by a naturalist friend, instruct us to “turn left onto Hal Read on →
Who knew? We've got some snotty residents on St. Simons Island who collect their mail at the Sea Island Post Office so they can pretend they live where they don't. Now they've been discombobulated by the armed guards at the gates and collecting their mail has proved an inconvenience. Not to worry. The Sea Island Acquisitions people will just move the P. O. out of their exclusive enclave and give it a new home on St. Simons while they continue to pretend that the Sea Island Road is as exclusive as that cesspool on the dunes known as Sea Island. Read on →
Every human culture, it seems, has had some notion of the sacred, and has placed that notion at the center of its worldview. From this, we can conclude several things: 1) that a sense of the sacred – like other universals, such as language and music – is an inherent part of our humanity; 2) that therefore we can conclude that this sense has served the cause of life of our kind through the eons in which we developed; and 3) that the experience of “the sacred” possesses an important kind of power, that it is not just an inherent part of us b Read on →