Oct. 15, 2012
I’ve been thinking about the things I miss about Mississippi. Not that I’m not fond of Ontario, Canada. I am. I love the glorious seasons and the fact that we have neighbors who are Irish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. I’ve always been an Anglophile, since so many books I read and many movies I enjoy come from there. Therefore I have fun with all the British spellings —cheque, centre, etc ., Queen Elizabeth’s picture on money, the Scottish, Irish, and British accents, and their ways of doing things.
However, last week I called the Monroe County Courthouse in Aberdeen, Mississippi in order to get them to send us our absentee voting ballots. The sound of the lady’s accent on the phone made me suddenly homesick. Also, I’ve been watching “Hometown Renovation” which is an HGTV show they taped in Aberdeen a couple years ago and which I’ve only now been able to get on Youtube. Anyway, seeing those people and places was jarring; when I go outside right after watching it, I feel as if I should be walking out the door onto good ol’ Matubba street.
Of course my experiences were in small town Mississippi, populated mainly by people whose families had lived there for generations. I’m sure the way of life would have been different in a big city like Atlanta, full of transplants. Also, some of these things are more American small town, rather than Southern per se. Anyway, here are a few of the things I miss:
The accents, both the gentile white accent, the country white accent, and the black accents, some of which sound like a whole different language, if they’re talking fast. Also words they use that I had read in books but never actually heard in real life—kin, yonder, pone.
Hearing children say “Ma’am” and “Sir.” So much more polite and respectful. Also being called “Miss Jane.” It’s more familiar than Ms. Or Mrs., but still more respectful than first names from kids to adults.
Dressing up for everything. It took me a few times when we first moved there, of wearing jeans to baby showers, plays, fashions shows, etc., before I learned that this was not a casual society. The girls wear dresses and high heels to Ole Miss football games. (Not to mention pre-game parties in The Grove at Ole Miss, where awnings are lit with chandeliers and the food is served on silver.) I loved seeing china and crystal at dinners among friends. Life is made more gracious.
Cheese straws and real Southern Red Velvet Cake (neither of which I seem to be able to make myself)
The history. Hearing people say, “We had that before The War,” meaning the Civil War, and it’s just understood that that’s what is meant. The Pilgrimage old home tours where the hostesses wear period clothing. In Aberdeen it always happens in the spring, when the azaleas and dogwood are blooming. The beautiful, grand old houses.
I miss everyone going to church, whichever church they happen to belong to. And all the kids going to each other’s Summer Bible Schools.
I miss everyone turning out for Dixie Youth baseball games on the weekends and high school football games in the fall.
Nicknames like “Budy Rabbit,” “Tater Bug,” “Too’ Pick,” “Lil Man,” “Preacher,” “Possum,” “Peachy,” “Baby Sis.” Given names like St. Elmo, Minnie Bird, and Buna Vista.
Grocery stores called Jitney Jungle and Piggly Wiggly
Christmases—even without snow, nothing was more Christmassy than Aberdeen, Mississippi in December. We had the Christmas lights driving tours where neighborhoods competed for their lights, and Commerce Street was all lined with luminaries.
Town productions put on at the Elkin Theater.
Parades—so fun to watch people you know, the cubscouts, the homecoming royalty riding on the back of a borrowed convertible, the football players and cheerleaders riding on a fire engine
The newspaper—at least once a month someone in our family would be pictured in the Aberdeen Examiner
I miss going into the Jitney Jungle and knowing who everyone is in the whole store. I miss the kids at the library and my friends.
These are just a few of the things—I could keep adding to the list. I think I need a visit down South.