Thursday, August 16, 2018
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He introduced himself to me on the phone as “Dave.” singer, dancer, comedienne, and actress Carol Burnett, receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) But, I soon found out all his friends called him “Georgia.” He had lost his Southern accent by the time I met him three-and-a-half years after he arrived on that Michigan State campus. A natural ear for languages and years of singing let him drop his Southern drawl in favor of broadcast English, the non-accented English heard in the Midwest. But, his friends and fraternity brothers kept the reminder of his... (Read More ...)

Antietam, fought on Wednesday, September 17, 1862, is considered the bloodiest single day in the Civil War, with a combined total, from both sides, of 22,717 dead, wounded or missing. “Battle of Antietam. Army of the Potomac: Gen. Geo. B. McClellan, comm., Sept. 17′ 1862. – 1′ 2′ 4′ 6′ 9′ 12′ Corps & Pleasanton’s cav. div. engaged.” Color lithograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) It is called, alternately, Antietam, for the creek near where it was fought, as the North named most of its battles after nearby natural spots, with the... (Read More ...)

Română: Nicolae Tonitza (1886 – 1940) – Mama şi copilul. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Every fall, for years, my mother, who lived in Atlanta, went to a book-signing by Lewis Grizzard. Grizzard was a famously funny Southern writer and comedian who wrote about growing up in Moreland, Georgia, a town of 300, about 40 miles southwest of Atlanta. “My son-in-law grew up in Moreland, too.” “I think he might have known you. I’m getting this book for him for Christmas.” “Of course, I knew David. His mother and mine were both teachers in Moreland.’ “Tell him I... (Read More ...)

Peas and Cheese Salad.  My husband loves peas. Velveeta Cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I don’t. With two exceptions. Field peas and Peas and Cheese Salad. Field peas are a kind I was introduced to by my Georgia-born-and-bred husband. We didn’t have such a vegetable in the North where I mostly grew up, the natural home of root vegetables. I never even had them in Texas, where I eventually moved, and where barbecue and baked beans were the norm. There are several kinds – field peas, Crowder peas, cow peas, purple-hull peas, black-eyed peas. They are a nutty, speckled brown, rich-tasting... (Read More ...)

It is, perhaps, no surprise that a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist from the New York Times can write about his Southern family in a way that makes you love them and forgive them their trespasses. The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Rick Bragg rose from reporting for his high school newspaper to being a journalist in the Atlanta bureau of the New York Times  and best-selling author. He comes to understand, if not forgive, why his father was broken by the horror of the Korean War and tried to drown his memories in alcohol and anger. He is in awe of the dogged work ethic... (Read More ...)

In my mother-in-law’s and father-in-law’s hometown, Hogansville, Georgia, the McKibben Funeral Home Walt Whitman – Camden, 1891 (Photo credit: marcelo noah) hangs a white wreath on the house outside the front door when there has been a death in the family. Everyone in town then knows they can call on the family to pay their respects or attend an upcoming funeral service. This Walt Whitman poem captures the sadness of this ritual, so close to the end of Whitman’s own life. My father-in-law died November 19, 2009. The town misses seeing him on his daily 2-mile walk, up until... (Read More ...)

Remembering Bread and Butter Pickles. Breaking up is hard to do. Every time I pass a farmer’s market or apple stand, I look for bread and butter pickles. They won’t be as good as my mother-in-law’s, but they remind me of her. Her house still functions. Bread and butter pickles in a mason jar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) There are beds, nightstands, rocking chairs, vanities and wastebaskets in two of three bedrooms. There are sheets and towels in the linen closet. But, the bedroom closets are empty and the clothes are gone from the dressers. The high, 4-poster bed in the front... (Read More ...)

Have You Ever Told a Cat What to Do? Today is August 27. In the Fall of 1970, my husband had just returned from 12 months in Vietnam. David, Jr. and Dave set off to go fishing from our campsite in 1970 after telling a cat to wait. We had two weeks to get back to Washington, DC, where he was returning to his job after three years. We packed up our Atlanta apartment, said goodby to my parents in Macon, Georgia, and his parents in Hogansville, Georgia. They had seen their grandson every other weekend for a year. We set out on a two-week camping trip to re-knit together our family. At one campsite,... (Read More ...)

Who Wrote the Uncle Remus Book? Joel Chandler Harris wrote down stories he heard from African-Americans, starting with his days as a teenager on a  Georgia plantation during the Civil War, that became a series of Uncle Remus books. Beloved by children for generations, at the time they were notable for Harris’s attempt to write down the dialect of the story-tellers. It is perhaps no surprise that my husband, born and bred in Georgia, should have a dog-eared copy of a book written by an Atlanta Constitution editor. My husband’s copy of Uncle Remus Stories is copyrighted 1947, when he was... (Read More ...)

How Do You Know Christmas Is Here? Christmas Gift! Little Girl Whispers to Santa Ferrol Sams, then a sixty-six-year old grandfather, wrote Christmas Gift! in 1989. My sister-in-law, who passed away this past summer, gave it to her mother that year for Christmas, as a book of shared memories of Christmases in Georgia. Told by an Atlanta-area physician and author, the book is a memoir for his grandchildren about the rituals of Christmas when he was growing up before and during the Depression. Cutting down the tree in their woods a week before Christmas brought the smell of fresh cedar in the house,... (Read More ...)