Saturday, July 14, 2007

I grew up in Alabama - now you know my deep dark secret!

Yes, I was born and raised in Alabama. Trust me I have heard all the Alabama jokes know to man. Strange thing is I never knew there was anything wrong with folks from Alabama until I left. I still have family in Alabama so I go for a visit from time to time and it is like taking a step back in time. People that visit Alabama for the first time should be warned “things in this state may appear to have been caught in a time gap, and they have”. When I tell people I lived without indoor plumbing until I was 10 no one believes me. “Oh, you are not old enough to have grown up using an outhouse”. I have the pictures to prove it – for some strange reason every picture of our house in the country had the “outhouse” in the background. What I am telling you is Alabama is 20 years behind other states – it kind’a like dog years - in Alabama I would be 80. When we moved to Georgia the transition for me was not an easy one. I grew up hearing phrases like –“it’s fix’n to come up a storm” – “it is darken than midnight under a skillet in here” – “they will be here directly” and the list goes on and on. When I asked the teacher for a “poke” to take my stuff home in, it took her off the deep end and I was sent to diction classes. Yes, folks I was in ESL (English as a Second Language) class long before it became popular. Not sure the classes helped that much but I don’t say poke any more but fix’n to, down yonder and do you need me to carry you to the airport are still active words in my speech. My husband’s family is from Wisconsin and he still has to translate for them from time to time. For the most part day to day communication is not a problem for me – might be for others – but I have reached the age that “demands” respect so people don’t correct me anymore.
I enjoyed life in the country, not so much the outhouse but life for the most part was wonderful. I did not have a TV, Game boy or IPod but I do not ever remember telling my parents I was bored. Yes, I was an only child but I never got to fully enjoy that title as we always had someone living with us. If you had a hard luck story my Dad was there to take you in. So the stigma that goes with being an “only” does not really apply. My parents were “older” when I was born thus making me the youngest cousin in the bunch and that did buy me some special treatment. Yes, I remember vividly the special treatment I received the day the boy’s (my cousins) put me out the back door of the school bus about 3 miles from home. Then there was the special treatment I received the day the boys rolled me in poison ivy for telling on them for smoking rabbit tobacco. Yes I was “special”! As I look back the “boys” may not have had a Game Boy to entertain them but they made good use of me. I sustained no lasting physical or mental injuries from their special treatment but I gained a life time full of wonderful memories. You, see I may have been their entertainment but NO ONE else was allowed to even look at me crossed ways. One of the boys was always my shadow. I also got to go with them to the creek for a swim, I was even allowed to go on dates every once in awhile.

Yes, growing up in the country was a great adventure. I never had to attend sex education classes; I saw the wonder of reproduction everyday living on a farm. I never had had to be taught to respect my elders – I learned early on that any adult had the right to smack me if I smarted off. Stealing was not a problem – no one had anything you didn’t. Our closest neighbor lived a mile away but you never had to ask permission to go visit – just be home before dark. I learned that hard work would not kill you and if a neighbor needed your help they did not have to ask. I learned about Our Father from My Father. I learned that LOVE is more important than things.
I wish I could say that I continue to follow the lessons learned so many years ago but most of them have been lost not just for me but for our culture in general. Yes, I know my neighbors some of them by name but I have no idea of their needs. My family can attest to the fact that I have more “STUFF” than I possibly will ever need. I have a Game Boy, an IPod, a laptop, a desktop – the list goes on and on. The one lesson I have never forgotten is “Love” and “kindness” are the most important possessions one can own.

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