Southern by the Grace of God

I believe the American South is the pinnacle of civilization.  By that I don’t mean that we are the epitome of fine learning. In most cases we lag pretty far behind the rest of the country when it comes to scientific advances, artistic achievement, and keeping up with everybody else just for the sake of keeping up.

For instance you’ve to got to love a place where a man loses his license for drunk driving, then shrugs it off and spends the next thirty years of his life driving his John Deere tractor everywhere he goes, never bothering to get a new driver’s license when he was again eligible. Why would he do that? After all you don’t have to have a license to drive a tractor. Perfect solution.

Some of the local kids used to hide in the gulley (that’s Southern for ditch) and throw rocks at him as he made his way down the road.  Strangely enough, none ever hit him. He’d pump his fist at them and cuss but never once offered to get off the tractor and chase the kids.

His tractor was slow. It was slow enough that a kid could easily run and catch up with it. Another favorite thing to do was to jump up on the back of his tractor. He didn’t like that either but he just cussed under his breath and kept on going. The kids would never ride too far anyway.

Then there is the case of the lady bootlegger. They probably don’t have dry counties in other parts of the country, but they dot the map in the south like nobody’s business.  Baptist churches help keep the booze out. Naturally a place where intoxicating beverages (also known as the devil’s fire water) are not legally sold creates a supply vacuum that somebody is gonna fill. And nobody said it had to be a rough looking old man bootlegging whiskey out of a trailor.

When I was growing up we had an elderly woman who was well known to provide the various thirsty folks in the county with their booze. Saved them from having to drive to South Carolina and buy it. She lived in a nice little well-kept white wood framed house right on the corner of the main (only) intersection in town. And right beside that was the elementary school that I attended. I spent many an afternoon in the 5th grade gazing out the window, watching the various customers come and go. Even saw a few neighbors stop in from time to time. The law had to know what was going on, but for some reason turned a blind eye to her illegitimate sales activities. For all I know they might have been customers too.

As the years passed, so did she and the corner lot her house sat on was sold and torn down. The elementary school closed and the building was bought up by a bible college, including her land. But one thing never changed even to this day. It’s still a dry county. While a few cities in the county voted  in beer, wine, and liquor by the drink, the county as a whole is still dry.

And finally for today there is the short cut farmer. This guy was a character in every sense of the word. He drove a big white cadillac and he would even drive it into a muddy field. He didn’t care. A good-hearted man he was always willing to bring a tractor and plow up neighborhood garden spots and wouldn’t dream of taking anything  for it.

But his ambition for big things proved to be his undoing. Never one to do things half-heartedly, he planted a field of corn and then intertwined with that he planted another cash crop shall we say. He used a cultivator to plant some of that mary-j-wanner as the locals called it. Everything went okay until a couple of kids stumbled upon it and called the law. He might have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for them meddling kids.

He did go to prison, but was released early as his health declined rapidly, him being a diabetic and all. Toward the end of his life he was admitted to the hospital and a nurse left a specimen cup. Around the same time his breakfast arrived complete with grapefruit juice. Being a practical joker he poured the grapefruit juice into the specimen cup. When the nurse came back to collect it, she commented on how the specimen looked pretty cloudy. He didn’t miss a beat. He grabbed it, gulped it down and said he’d run it back through again. Legend has it that the nurse nearly fainted.

So yes I am convinced that the American South is the pinnacle of civilization. No other part of the country could give birth to such colorful characters. No other part of the country would want to.


2 Responses to “Southern by the Grace of God”

  1. Kendell J. Says:

    Recognized everything and everybody. And without knowing who did the writeing, I would have known that it was also you. You have a most distinct style of writing that no one else can cuplicate.

  2. ROFL! I LOVE that grapefruit juice prank!

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