Sunday, April 05, 2009

American By Birth, Southern By The Grace of God

Ruba's post about Islamic Civilation and identity got me thinking. The question of identity is a very interesting one. It's one that the Beans will definitely have the opportunity to explore. They come from such widely differing backgrounds. So, in thinking about Ruba's post, I thought of the old bumper sticker (and T-Shirt, and Beer Cozy, and, and, and...) with the big Southern flag on it and the words emblazoned across it American By Birth Southern by the Grace of God. These were the kinds of things you'd pick up at Stuckey's. Yeah, I know, you Northerner's out there are thinking, hunh? But, let me just say... Pecan Log Roll. You Southerners, you know what I'm talking about... And to take you back even more, here's a circa 1950s snapshot of a Stuckey's.

Being from the South was very interesting. Most people outside of the US (and many inside) don't get how different the regions really are. I'm not just from the South, I'm from the Deep South. The Heart of Dixie. I'm from a state with a colorful history including one single county that refused to secede from the Union in the Civil War. It declared itelf the Free State of Winston. I'm from a state where liquor isn't (or wasn't) sold on Sundays and we still had dry counties.

In the South, we weren't Irish or Italian or German or anything. We were all Southern. It took me moving away to Philadelphia to know that a family I had known for 15 years was Italian. Honestly it kind of surprised me. Because all of us were Southern before anything else. Before American, before any ethnic identification, we were Southern. Southerners are, fundamentally, people of the land (sound like anyone we know around here?). And, in Alabama, it's the most beautiful land in the whole world (and I am so NOT biased). And I always truly felt that as much as didn't fit on (I was perhaps just a tad too interested in the rest of the world to fit in with my peers, teehee), I was Southern by the Grace of God. Only a graceful God would have chosen little old me to be at home in such beautiful vistas. To see such beauty and doubt the existence of God, well, I can't imagine it.

So, I am American by birth, but I also proudly claim my heritage... I am Southern by the grace of God.

And, in honor of this, here are my favorite things I sorely miss:
  1. Hot boiled peanuts from a road-side stand

  2. Chilton County tomatoes (named after the man who gaveled the Confederacy into existence)(here's Clanton' water tower not far from my favorite year round stand for produce)

  3. Grits, real grits not the instant ones made in my microwave
  4. Meme's Biscuits
  5. The mountains of the Birmingham area and the rivers and creeks of my summer camp home away from home

That's my Top 5... Anyone else?

Happy identity crises!


At 9:42 AM , Anonymous kinzi said...

Yearly high school reunions?

I have never heard that term about Southerners. My mom withheld a vitally important slogan from me! Thanks for clueing me in.

At 10:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very enjoyable post, even for one who grew up as far away as from the Deep South as geographically possible - the North Country. If you don't know where that is it's a very rural part of New York State right before you leave the country for Canada. Oddly enough there are a lot of parallels between growing up somewhere like that and in the South. One is being from the North Country before all else. I was so surprised when I went to college and met people like my wife who had a strong Italian heritage. Anyways - enjoyed the nostalgic feel of this post - in spite of the differences it made me think of my home too. Brian C

At 2:56 PM , Anonymous Michon said...

1. Decoration w/ dinner on the ground

2. Mule Day

3. Fried Peanuts

4. Kudzu

5. Muscadines


At 10:21 PM , Anonymous Michon said...

Add to that list....

6. Listening to tapes of Jerry Clower.

7. Smell of pine on a HOT summer day.

8. Wading in Beaver Creek on a HOT summer day.

9. Funnel cakes

10. BBQ

At 6:13 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Kinz, not enough time with us'ns down South apparently...

Brian, glad you enjoyed the post, welcome.

Michon, welcome girl. I love your additions. But, mentioning BBQ was just plain mean... :(

At 4:21 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

We spent some time in Alabama, and I was in the Hobby Lobby when this huge thunderstorm hit that metal roof. Oh my, and these two ladies were in the same row as I and it just didn't faze them at all and my kids were oohing and ahhing. One lady turned to me and said, "You're not from here are you?" Duh! So, we started talking and she said, "Welcome to God's Country." I thought that was so amazing. Alabama is just a beautiful laid back place. SubhanAllah.

At 12:16 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Ohh, Nicole. Thunderstorm on a metal roof. That makes me think of home for sure. It is, indeed, a beautiful place. Missing it now ;).

At 12:35 AM , Blogger UmmFarouq said...

How 'bout ten?
1. Tornado drills in which you place the heaviest book (always History) on your head.

2. Inner tubing down Bull Frog Bend in the summer.

3. Catching tadpoles at Homewood Park.

4. Learning how to water ski at Smith Lake; also catching first rainbow trout at smith lake. And a 5 lb. bass. Oh, and seeing a giant water moccassin. Smith Lake rocked.

5. Collard greens with hot pepper sauce and chicken livers at the Whistle Stop Cafe, watching the trains roll by.

6. Visiting Vulcan, before it was restored.

7. Concerts at Sloss Furnace.

8. The Birmingham-Southern Campus. I love that place.

9. My friends who really were debutantes, and belles, through and through. (although I was WAY outside of that group)

10. Used Car commercials in which the guy can say "everwhat" and no one flinches.

At 12:45 AM , Anonymous Um Abdulrahman said...

I am too sad to respond right now, but look for my top ten later today, insha'allah!

At 7:22 AM , Anonymous Michon said...

Sorry, I should have made one big post, but these things come to me off and on.

11. Milos

12. Cousin Cliff

13. Country Boy Eddie

14. Steak biscuits

15. Strawberry Mountain Dew from Cardinal's (crushed ice, covered with mushed sweetened strawberries, Mountain Dew poured over)

16. Steak sandwiches

17. Fried pies

18. Meat and three

19. Fishing,cleaning the fish, frying the fish

20. "Yes ma'am, fixin to, you'ens, come sit a spell"

Your post reminded me of a song by Alan Jackson "Where I Come From." :)

At 7:33 AM , Blogger Dave said...

Ah, the Clanton water tower, otherwise affectionately known as "Lulu's hemorrhoid" to passing truckers.

At 8:12 AM , Blogger UmmFarouq said...

Dave, are you, too, from Alabama?

At 1:09 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Lovely additions ladies and gents (except Dave). Thanks ;)!

At 11:13 PM , Anonymous Um Abdulrahman said...

Ok, I got over my moment so here is my (short) list:

1. Picking strawberries at Durbin Farms -right near the peach tower exit.

2. Picking catawba worms off Pa Ed's catawba tree to use for fishing bait.

3. Canoeing down the Sipsey River

4. Picnics at Oak Mountain

5. Mama Clara's chocolate cake

6. Thunderstorms

7. Friday night football games wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate that could permanently scar your tounge it was so hot

8. Lazy days at Lake Mitchell

9. Mud riding in the woods (yes, people I actually did that for fun)

10. Crazy Bill's Fireworks and the Vulcan display on the 4th of July (while listening to the accompanying music WZZK 104.7of course)!

At 3:40 AM , Blogger UmmFarouq said...

Am loving these (and needing to purchase a plane ticket). Michon, Um Abd, yours are both great!

At 12:48 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Glad you got over your moment, those are great additions. Seems I forgot going out at the crack of dawn and sitting in a deer blind for hours. Never shot anything, but sure did enjoy the beauty of the early morning. Durbin Farms... I SO culdn't come up with the name, but you got it on the first try!

Thanks for the additions.


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