“Ah’m sa glad to git back down home whur they call it a ‘bush hawg’!”
(and not a “brush-hahg”)
—My SEARK country cousin after returning from
agri school in Fayetteville in the Ozarks
Although I keep saying that I must stop blogging due to my increasing age and declining health, I keep being provided fascinating tidbits sent to me by faithful friends, family members, and readers.
I have accumulated some of these tidbits, organized them into categories, and now offer them here in this post for your enjoyment and benefit. I hope you will at least skim through these quotes, links, excerpts, and photos and examine those that appeal to you most.
“Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
—Matthew 26:73 NIV
“An [American's] way of speaking absolutely classifies him.
The moment he talks he makes some other
[American] despise him.”
—“Why Can’t the English Teach Their Children How to Speak,”
from the musical My Fair Lady
In a recent issue of the New York Times there appeared an interesting dialect quiz in which Americans’ geographical area of the United States can be deduced by their speech or accent. To read that article titled “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk,” and to take this quiz, click here or go to this Web site.
Incidentally, my test results showed that I speak like a native of a triangular area bound by Little Rock, Arkansas, on the top; Shreveport, Louisiana, on the bottom left; and Jackson, Mississippi, on the bottom right. That area is precisely correct since it basically centers on the Delta of Southeast Arkansas where I was born and raised and spent much of my adult life.
Mari’s quiz results showed her speech to be closer to that of residents of a similar area farther south and east bounded by Little Rock, Jackson, Mississippi, and Birmingham, Alabama. That is a bit of a surprise since we both came from the same area in SEARK and have lived in the same cities in Arkansas, South Carolina, and Oklahoma.
I encourage you to take the quiz and to see how accurate you feel your results are. (To read my earlier post titled “Some Southern Stuff IV: Do You Speak Southern?” which includes another similar dialect quiz, click here.)
To learn more about Sarah Beaugez and her photographs of the Delta and her writings about it, click here or go to her Web site at http://sarahbeaugez.zenfolio.com/p186231761. Once there, to watch a slideshow of some of Sarah’s Delta photos set to the song “Ode to Billie Joe” sung by Bobbie Gentry, click on “Slideshow” in the upper right hand corner of the home page.
I have always loved the song in this video since I remember so well the first time I heard it. It was back in the summer of about 1967 or 68 when Mari and I were home in McGehee from the University of Arkansas where I had gone back from Holly Grove to get my master’s degree in French.
While there I received a call from one of my former Ouachita Baptist College teachers who invited me to come to Judson College (a Southern Baptist girls’ college) in Marion, Alabama, for an interview for a teaching position in business.
Mari and I were driving on Highway 82 between Greenwood and Columbus, Mississippi, near Starkville when we heard this song by Bobbie Gentry on the radio. Thinking it was a local production I turned to Mari and said, “Boy, that is really good. Somebody ought to take that song and put it out nationally.” Of course, “somebody” did do just that, and it became a monster hit.
Now whenever I hear it I am transported back to the hills and two-lane highways of East Mississippi and to a simpler, happier, and healthier time and place in my past. I wish I could go back now—but as I say in one of my nostalgic poems, “. . . time never runs in reverse.”
So thanks to Sarah Beaugez for taking me back there for a few precious moments.
Incidentally, here is what Sarah has to say about a person with passion. It could have been written about me and my passion for the Delta (italics mine):
“His passion for the land was palpable. He knew each and every curve and line in each field. They were not simply parcels of earth; they were intimately known patches of rich, black, Delta dirt; each with a name; each with their own identity. He was most certainly passionate about each one.
“Passion does not begin with love. Passion begins with the way that one lives life; living as though everything that one encounters is unique in and of itself. The object of passion can be a thing, a concept, or a person. It matters not. If one is passionate about anything then it seems one is passionate about all things. The only thing that one who is passionate seems to care about is that anyone could be dispassionate… about life. About living…”
To view a musical video titled “Darkness on the Delta,” sent to me by Pat Scavo, click here.
To view another version of “Darkness on the Delta” by Duff Dorrough of Pocahontas, Arkansas, from Best of Duff album, published on October 8, 2012, click here.
To learn more about the theme song of the Delta, “Darkness on the Delta,” click here.
To hear Jimmie Rodgers, a 1930s folksinger with a distinctive Mississippi accent, singing the classic, must-hear “Mississippi Delta Blues,” click here.
To view a musical video with an original song by Marty Denton of McGehee, Arkansas, titled “Their Shadows” about the Japanese Relocation Camps in the Delta of Southeast Arkansas, click here.
To learn more about the WWII Japanese-American Relocation camps in the Southeast Arkansas Delta, go to: “Opening of WWII Japanese American Internment Camps Museum,” “Camp Nine: A Book Review with Quotes about the Arkansas Delta,” and “The Red Kimono: A Book Review about WWII Japanese Relocation Camps.”
To visit a Web site about the historic Mississippi River port city of Helena, Arkansas, and its Delta Cultural Center, click here.
“Muddy Mississippi River water leaves a stain on the soul that is virtually impossible to get out . . . assuming any fool would try.”
Recently my longtime friend Danny Lynchard, a native of the Mississippi River Delta town of Cleveland, Mississippi, and director of the Tulsa Police and Fire Chaplaincy Corps, had this to say about the Mighty Mississippi (italics mine):
“I often thought of the Mississippi River as the spinal cord of America. Everything came through it and filtered into the body of the country around it. It was deep in legend, mythology and livelihood. Everything was bigger in the Mississippi. The boats, the trotlines, the bait you used and the mighty catfish.
“It was part of many of the family stories of both tragedy and triumph. It belonged to us and we belonged to it. It could give life or take life giving it an almost human quality . . . at least a personality. It could permanently stain your clothes but more importantly and less noticed, it would stain your soul with its presence and power. Like its rushing waters, it forced itself into your heart bringing both hope and fear. No man could tame it yet all men claimed it as their own. In some ways, it even helped me understand the Almighty. You could work with Old Man River and he could bring many a blessing and joy. You could work against him, and one day, pay the price.”
To read an article titled “Mapping the Lower Mississippi Water Trail” sent to me by Pat Scavo on November 16, 2013, click here.
To read an article sent to me by Pat Scavo on December 2, 2013, titled “Rivers’ garbageman named CNN Hero of the Year” for cleaning up the Mississippi and other rivers, click here.
“Nostalgia is just not what it used to be.”
“. . . nostalgia for certain values tends to set in just as they’re disappearing.
Happily, nostalgia can bring those values back, too. . . .
We can choose how we live.
With cheer and faith or temper and worst behavior.”
—Paul Greenberg, “It really is a wonderful life,”
Tulsa World, December 19, 2013
(For more on this subject, see my previous post.)
To view a video by McGehee native Marty Denton singing his song about yesterday with photos from McGehee and the Vietnam War, titled “Never Forgotten, Only a Dream Away,” sent to me by Pat Scavo on October 24, 2013, click here.
To view the Statler Brothers singing “Do You Remember These?” with nostalgic photos sent to me by Andy Herren on December 6, 2013, and titled “Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane,” click here.
To view a musical slideshow sent to me by Pat Scavo from Facebook on January 7, 2014, of a song by Marty Denton and others titled, “Everything that’s blue won’t make you sad,” click here.
And as a Grand Finale to the subject of nostalgia, here is a link to “Railroad Jack’s Photostream from the 1950’s” sent to me on January 24, 2014, by Pat Scavo, who writes: “Be sure and ‘mouse-over’ each photo and look at the link at the top to FAVORITES to see Liz!” Liz, of course, being Elizabeth Taylor, my Screen Idol! (For more on this subject of the Lovely Liz, see my earlier post, “My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty.”)
The 275 photos in three sections from the 1950s featured on the site include places (drive-ins, supermarkets, car dealerships, gas stations, etc); musicians (Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, etc.); cars (Fords, Chevys, Chryslers, hot rods, dragsters, etc.); movie stars (Marlon Brando, James Dean, Robert Mitchum, Natalie Wood, etc.); sexpots (Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Jayne Mansfield, etc.), and many other 1950’s icons.