Southern Is


Sitting in an honored place on my coffee table is a small book with the above title. The first page tells “There is nothing very different about Southerners ----except for the way they think, feel and act. The pages of my little book are filled with completions to the sentence “Southern is”.  (Author Mary Norton Kratt, a daughter of the South.)  I started thinking about this when I read and admired the August 4 column of Mayor Charles Schwabe telling us “There is something special about living in the South.” Y’all know that.   
There is an inborn graciousness about southerners that soothes over harshness.   Southern is small women with soft voices and iron inside, The Steel Magnolia. Southern is gentlemen who open doors for you and grasp your elbow when you come to a curb. May this never change.
Yes, we do talk slower, drop our g’s and have our own Southern vocabulary that is very efficient. Say “I’m gonna”, we know you will act soon.  “Fixing to” means you are ready to act.  “Around to it” says “I will do it when I have time.” One of the best is “Y’all come” and being quite surprised if they did.  
I live in a townhouse condo that is also home to many transplants from up North.  They love living in this tranquil Southern city and especially our winters. There are two frequent comments to which I have these ready responses: “You moved to the south. Did you not know that it gets hot here in the summer?” and “If you don’t like grits, just say “No Thank You.” We do not need a full explanation of why you dislike.  I don’t look on this as being rude. I am just furthering the education of our new Southerners.
I must add food to the list of what is different about Southerners. This page could be covered with all of our specialties which often are listed on menus as Southern----such as Southern fried chicken. My columnist friend, Ronnie Johnston remembers sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch and shelling butter beans. Soon a mess of fresh butter beans with a generous chunk of fatback would be simmering on the stove to be accompanied by summer fruits and vegetables and a pitcher of sweet tea.  Thank you, Ronnie, for the mouth-watering image of my family table.  Thank you, Mayor Schwabe, for reminding us of A Special Feel and A Special Place. Write to Shirley at


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