Down South

Sunday, March 28, 2021 – Down South

Because I was born in the South, I’m a Southerner. If I had been born in the North, the West or the Central Plains, I would be just a human being. ~ Clyde Edgerton

We have only one rule here, to act like a gentleman at all times. ~ Robert E. Lee

You learn to forgive the South for its narrow mind and growing pains because it has a huge heart. You forgive the stifling summers because the spring is lush and pastel sprinkled, because winter is merciful and brief, because corn bread and sweet tea and fried chicken are every bit as vital to a Sunday as getting dressed up for church, and because any southerner worth their salt says please and thank you. It’s soft air and summer vines, pine woods and fat homegrown tomatoes. It’s pulling the fruit right off a peach tree and letting the juice run down your chin. It’s a closeted and profound appreciation for our neighbors in Alabama who bear the brunt of the Bubba jokes. The South gets in your blood and nose and skin bone-deep. I am less a part of the South than it is part of me. It’s a romantic notion, being overcome by geography. But we are all a little starry-eyed down here. We’re Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara and Rosa Parks all at once. ~ Amanda Kyle Williams

Charlestonians had a particularly vicious and cunning game, developed after the War. They treated outsiders with so much graciousness and consideration that their politeness became a weapon. Visitors end up feeling as if they’re wearing shoes for the first time in their lives. It’s said that only the strongest ever recover from the experience. The Chinese never developed a torture to match it, although they’re a very subtle people. ~ Alexandra Ripley

It was always so hot, and everyone was so polite, and everything was all surface but underneath it was like a bomb waiting to go off. I always felt that way about the South, that beneath the smiles and southern hospitality and politeness were a lot of guns and liquor and secrets. ~ James McBride

There was another thing I had forgotten about the South: It was the one place on earth where an unsuspecting person could get killed by kindness. ~ Michael Lee West, American Pie

We might be a bit slow on some things down in the South, but we know murder. ~ Cynthia Eden

Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air – moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh – felt as if it were being exhaled into one’s face. Sometimes it even sounded like heavy breathing. ~ Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

Summer in the Deep South is not only a season, a climate, it’s a dimension. Floating in it, one must be either proud or submerged. ~ Eugene Walter

There’s also way too much religion in the South to be consistent with good mental health. Still, I love traveling down there, especially when I’m in the mood for a quick trip to the thirteenth century. I’m not someone who buys into all that ‘New South’ shit you hear; I judge a place by the number of lynchings they’ve had, overall. ~ George Carlin

Every culture has its southerners – people who work as little as they can, preferring to dance, drink, sing brawl, kill their unfaithful spouses; who have livelier gestures, more lustrous eyes, more colorful garments, more fancifully decorated vehicles, a wonderful sense of rhythm, and charm, charm, charm; unambitious, no, lazy, ignorant, superstitious, uninhibited people, never on time, conspicuously poorer (how could it be otherwise, say the northerners); who for all their poverty and squalor lead enviable lives – envied, that is, by work-driven, sensually inhibited, less corruptly governed northerners. We are superior to them, say the northerners, clearly superior. We do not shirk our duties or tell lies as a matter of course, we work hard, we are punctual, we keep reliable accounts. But they have more fun than we do… They cautioned themselves as people do who know they are part of a superior culture: we mustn’t let ourselves go, mustn’t descend to the level of the jungle, street, bush, bog, hills, outback (take your pick). For if you start dancing on tables, fanning yourself, feeling sleepy when you pick up a book, developing a sense of rhythm, making love whenever you feel like it – then you know. The South has got you. ~ Susan Sontag, The Volcano Lover

Successful con men are treated with considerable respect in the South. A good slice of the settler population of that region were men who’d been given a choice between being shipped off to the New World in leg-irons and spending the rest of their lives in English prisons. ~ Hunter S. Thompson

There are no ideas in the South, just barbecue. ~ Pat Conroy

You can say a lot of bad things about Alabama, but you can’t say that Alabamans as a people are duly afraid of deep fryers. ~ John Green

Next to fried foods, the South has suffered most from oratory. ~ Brooks Hays

The South produced statesmen and soldiers, planters and doctors and lawyers and poets, but certainly no engineers and mechanics. Let Yankees adopt such low callings. ~ Margaret Mitchell

The women of the South have brought into American literature a unique mixture of domesticity and grotesquerie. ~ James Dickey

Everyone in the South has no time for reading because they are all too busy writing. ~ William Faulkner

Storytelling and copulation are the two chief forms of amusement in the South. They’re inexpensive and easy to procure. ~ Robert Penn Warren 

The white people of the South are the greatest minority in this nation. They deserve consideration and understanding instead of the persecution of twisted propaganda. ~ Strom Thurmond

Segregation in the South is honest, open and aboveboard. Of the two systems, or styles of segregation, the Northern and the Southern, there is no doubt whatever in my mind which is the better. ~ Strom Thurmond

It’s the South that maintains the idea that they’re different, which is interesting because nobody else really cares. ~ Josh Lucas

My God! We’ve had cloning in the South for years. It’s called cousins. ~ Robin Williams

The South is dry and will vote dry. That is, everybody sober enough to stagger to the polls will. ~ Will Rogers

In the South the war is what AD is elsewhere; they date from it. ~ Mark Twain

Louie brought his new girlfriend over, and the nicest thing I can say about her is all her tattoos are spelled correctly. ~ Robert Harling, Steel Magnolias

South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum. ~ James L. Petigru

There is a much-loved region in the American fantasy where pale white women float eternally under black magnolia trees, and white men with soft hands brush wisps of wisteria from the creamy shoulders of their lady loves. Harmonious black music drifts like perfume through this precious air, and nothing of a threatening nature intrudes. The South I returned to, however, was flesh-real and swollen-belly poor. ~ Maya Angelou, Gather Together in My Name

By the force of our demands, our determination and our numbers, we shall splinter the segregated South into a thousand pieces and put them back together in the image of God and democracy. ~ John Lewis

Annoy a Southerner and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death. ~ Maureen Johnson

A southern moon is a sodden moon, and sultry. When it swamps the fields and the rustling sandy roads and the sticky honeysuckle hedges in its sweet stagnation, your fight to hold on to reality is like a protestation against a first waft of ether. ~ Zelda Fitzgerald, Save Me the Waltz