Real, Rural Revelations Revealed
Eating together was not a "family meeting"
OTHER THINGS THAT GLUE-TOGETHER "OUR" RURAL BACKGROUNDS
RURAL MYTHS DEBUNKED:
- Rural people have more than one tooth in their mouth.
- Not all rural people are alcoholics.
- Not all rural guys are named "Bubba."
- Rural people "can" count past ten.
- Rural people "can" talk in complete sentences.
- Rural people "do" have other articles of clothing besides jeans, flannel shirts, tee-shirts, "CAT Diesel Power" caps and overalls.
- Rural people "do" graduate from high school and college.
- Not all rural people walk around with hay straws in the corner of their mouth.
- Not all rural men are auto mechanics in a shop named, "Al's Auto Repair."
- Not all rural people are criminals.
I’ve heard it all. “Hillbilly,” “Backwoods,” “You live ‘in the sticks,’” and “country bumpkin.” None of this sarcasm was ever intended to make me, a rural man, feel good about himself. Although (before I figured it out), I thought that “country bumpkin,” meant someone very popular with a country background.
Not so. Names like “country bumpkin,” were made for only one reason, and one reason only. To disrespect people such as myself who grew up in a rural background.
I need no ease of reasoning now. Contrary to logical-thinking, “I” am happy. Happy as a “country bumpkin.” Very happy to live in my hometown, Hamilton, Alabama.
You remember Hamilton? I have in the past, mentioned my hometown to a few of you, but in case you have let the image of my “stomping ground,” fade, imagine you are walking down “Elm Street,” in Mayberry, North Carolina and who’s that sitting on their front door? None other than Sheriff “Andy Taylor,” his son, “Opie,” “Aunt Bea,” and “Andy’s” best gunhand, “Barney Fife.”
That is Hamilton in a nutshell. I mean that with all respect to anyone who lives in small town. Especially in “Rural America.” To me, “Rural America,” is slowly-fading into a dismal sunset thanks to both, Democratic and Republican presidential administrations losing sight of “us,” in small towns and out-sourcing most of the jobs that kept our small towns alive.
To me, and I am just ranting, there isn’t one thing to be ashamed of because you or I live in a rural town. Nothing whatesover. I mean, some people in my early school days tried their darndest to make my friends and I feel unimportant simply because we lived in rural Alabama. This is the truth if I ever told it.
And looking back, it almost worked. These “elite” children who came from the loins of their wealthy parents and their “pro big city propaganda,” that made me feel somewhat ashamed of being from the rural south.
Too bad, “elitists,” you came up short. As Jerry Seinfeld says, “awww, that’s a shame.”
To this set of “elitists,” who made sport of my friends and I, I will do the honorable thing and give them credit for being so persistent.
Back then, just a collision of two cultures. One, metropolitan Hamilton, and two, rural Hamilton, and when these two segments of life meet the obvious-friction among members of each group will sometimes lead to bloodshed. Not ours, but theirs.
Case in point. One of my rural buddies was John “Bo” Williams, one of eleven children who knew the value of knowing how to work with their hands, back and undaunted spirits to feed their families.
There was this once instance when “Bo,” was getting off of our school bus and before you could say, “fatback on Saturday evening,” a city guy had tried (and failed) to “slug” “Bo” for as “Bo,” stated after the shortest fight in school history, six seconds, "he didn’t like my talk that much, so I told him to shut his trap. He didn’t and I didn’t have no choice as to show him the pavement, face-first.”
“Bo’s” story was convincing enough for our lady principal, Lucille Mixon, who had a tough rep as a “prison warden,” not a school principal. And that was all of the fighting “Bo” did. On that day.
But as the years ticked by, “Bo” found an outlet for his short fuse: Junior varsity and Varsity football, a place where “Bo” answered his true “calling”: fighting and brawling like any good “son-of-a-logger” whoever left the “big city.” The fans loved “Bo’s” exploits on the gridiron--none of which involved carrying, throwing or catching the football.
“Bo” was, as ESPN’s Chris “Swanee” Berman says, “a natural,” and “Bo” proved that out every Friday night in Sargent Stadium in Hamilton, Alabama. (FYI: Sargent Stadium was named after one of Hamilton High School’s best principals, Joe L. Sargent.)
Oh, well. Times change. People change. But not us folks in rural Hamilton. No sir. We are simply too comfortable with whom we are than to try and improve upon our “muted perfection,” when we have it every sun-up that shines its light on “rural America” and we have learned to shun (some of the time) the ignorant people who know better than to mock our speech, walk and wardrobe.
It’s way too peaceable than to get into a scuffle with some “goomer,” as Granny Clampett called a city person when the scuffle requires us to spend too much of our valuable energy that we save for the “important” things around our house.
Things like watching SEC Football on any given Saturday evening starting in late September and ending with the BCS Championship Game in early January.
See if you can relate to this. Where “I” am from, rural Hamilton, Alabama, and all across my region of the state, northwest Alabama, football is far from being “just” a game. It’s more of a religion with standing room only crowds every Saturday afternoon or Saturday night.
The “football faithful” who worship in a “sacred stadium,” and scream themselves hoarse for people like Nick Saban, head football coach of the University of Alabama--the Crimson Tide; Dan Mullen, head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and “The Ol’ Ball Coach,” a living legend, Steve Spurrier, who is the head man at South Carolina.
These guys and their armies of assistants lead their teams called: Tigers; Gamecocks; Gators; Commodores; Rebels; Aggies; Wildcats and more. We love it. The masses love Saturdays in the south. That’s rural people too, friends. We know our way to town.
And since high school, college and NFL football is so highly-regarded in my rural area of Alabama, you can bet your last dollar that you will not see me or any of my “back woods buddies,” who never use their real names, go to anything called a “symphony.”
Naw sir. My buddies, “D.D.,” “W.W.,” “J.W.,” and “C.D.,” the one who “did” attend college somewhere in Mississippi, (even for a week), cannot stand a “symphony,” but we all know what means.
A “symphony” means that when your buddy’s truck runs out of gas, you take his five-gallon gas can to his brother, “Bud’s,” double-wide trailer (and pray that “Bud,” is passed-out from drinking) and “symphony” some of his gasoline from his truck into the five-gallon gas can. See there? Us ruralists are not as ignorant as the press lets on.
“Eating,” not “breakfast,” “lunch,” “dinner,” or “brunch,” whatever that is, is not without a certain air of reverence to us rural Americans.
When it’s time to eat, it’s time for talking, yes, talking, to each other while eating--with or without food in our mouths. I guess, and now just speaking for myself, we rural people place more importance on our family and friends at meal time rather than the manners that we should be using.
I learned at an early age that if we as a family were to stay close-knit as time skipped along, then we were going to have to talk. Keep talking to one another, and adding one more thing that in today’s modern world has pretty much went without any label of importance: listening.
You can tell a lot about a young person, your martial companion, and learn more from an elderly person by just shutting your mouth and opening your heart and ears.
In rural southern homes even in 2012, we do all of this at each meal we are blessed to eat.
Imagine a meal time with no television, radio, iPhones, iPads, tablets, laptops, or headphones. It only sounds miserable. I suggest you try it sometime with your family and I promise you this. You might be surprised at just much you “don’t” know about your own family.
Eating, and listening, to me, are but a few of the “true standards” of life where I live in rural America. Oh, there are more. Many more. So many that I am convinced that the staff of HubPages would freak if I presented the “entire” list, so I won’t.
I will end this with just a few more things that make “us,” the rural people of our still-mighty nation, happy to be among the many whose ethic and family backgrounds were used to weave the tapestry of our homeland.
Most of us rural people, and I am proud that I am one of them, do not own a audio recording device, a taping system to capture words. That kind of thing. So we rely on memories that we carry around with us of our ancestors and ancestors of our neighbors who remind us that if it were not for the sacrifices, blood shed and dogmatic determination of these early rural people, “we” the rural people of today would only be a dream that wasn’t realized.
Yes, some of our rural neighbors still provide food and sustenance for their families and friends by “the old fashioned” way: Farming.
You can see these men and women dressed in humble attire every morning, except Sunday, atop their “steeds of steel,” their Ford, International Harvester and Massey-Ferguson tractors heading toward another day of hope, faith and hard work to just see to it that you and I have one more meal.
And the people abroad who are not as blessed as we are to have such conveniences as tractors, running water and a country that shares with others, are also taken care of my these “true” American heroes: our rural farmers.
Sure I sound corny. Sure I sound like an early colorized film starring Robert Preston or Eddy Albert whose character is singing the praises of America. If you are just itching to call me “corny,” that is cool. I will be honored to live with that title.
Rural people “do” enjoy their music. Us older rural citizens enjoy a tune by Hank Williams, Sr.; Ernest Tubb; Roy Acuff and Pasty Cline from time to time, but our younger breeds take to Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Georgia Satellites and Marshall Tucker Band on a Saturday evening when they hit town in their trucks with the speakers blaring “Simple Man,” with the windows down.
Somehow I have to admire our younger rural boys and girls for at least knowing how to keep a tradition alive. Sometimes I join a song they are listening to and they all laugh at me, not as being mean-spirited, but in amazement that a man of my age can even remember lyrics to some of their songs.
Oh, and we have another exciting event that can cause family friction on any given summer day, or Saturday. It’s simply called “fishing.”
Fishing is addictive. Fishing can cause the best of families to have a spat or two when the husband and sons were to spend a beautiful Saturday building an outbuilding that the wife and mother wanted to use for her flowers. That dream, sadly to say, had to wait thanks to the dad seizing a priceless opportunity to bond with his sons (who are growing older) and use the fishing trip as another fatherly teaching moment.
To the dad, there will be more Saturdays and more outbuildings to be built, but not more Saturdays when he and his sons can just be real, talk, and learn something from their day together.
Talk about head-strong. Us rural Americans have something bred into us that burns our insides when we learn of how someone is abusing someone in our neighborhood, town, county state, nation and even overseas.
That is just not right to have a man and his henchmen to seize the lives and freedoms of his citizens. I give you the late, not-great, Saddam Hussein, who went a bit too far and when we rural Americans were called to help free Iraq, we didn’t run and hide. We were glad (and still am), to do our part in keeping someone besides “our” neighbors free.
Oh, I admit. We rural men and women are “not the sharpest lights in the marquis,” but we do know that if you don’t stand for personal rights and freedoms, they can be taken just as easily as they were given.
And among other “mysterious” and “strange” traits that we rural guys possess is “respect for females.” This is not beat into us at birth, but taught to us guys by caring fathers and mothers as we grow up in the rural part of America.
Respecting females, in some areas of our country is not a “cool” thing to do. A stud could be laughed at, made fun of and even scorned for showing a girl a degree of respect.
We rural men took that chance years ago and decided that being laughed at and made fun of for respecting females didn’t hurt as bad as having to live with the memories of “if I had only done something,” that would surely haunt us for just sitting idly by and allowing some “monster,” to beat, verbally-abuse and use a woman for only “his physical pleasures,” and leave her on the floor.
I guess it’s our background of learning early-on that our Maker frowns on behavior such as this. He still does.
And that’s one thing us rural Americans cannot stand is for our Maker to frown on us. If anything, we want to, in our awkward, backward ways, do things out of the ordinary to at least try to make Him smile.
We learned years ago that if we make Him smile, the benefits are remarkable.
Am I here to say that my “rural America,” is the “paradise lost,” a utopic location where dreams come true on a daily occasion?
Am I here to brag and say that living in “rural America” is the only place to live?
Am I stating that places like Hamilton, Alabama, Tupelo, Mississippi, Nashville, Tennessee, and Little Rock, Arkansas, are “perfect” places to live, work and raise your children?
No. But I am getting pretty close.