Living Democracy

Living in Linden: 20 Things That The South Has Taught Me

image of squashThough I hail from the northern part of Alabama, I’ve realized that there’s a lot about the living in a small town in the South that is still foreign to me. During my ten weeks in Linden I’ve heard new phrases, learned news things about life in small towns and eaten foods I’ve never eaten before. And it has been one of the best experiences of my life.

The South has a lot of customs that are new to me that may be new to you too. A Google search can provide you with list upon list of “Words that Southerners Say” or “The Strange Things Southerners Eat.”

So I decided to create my own “20 Things that the South Has Taught Me” list developed from living and learning in Linden this summer:

  1. No event where food is served is complete without fried chicken (even if it’s just from a fast food joint). From church meals to Rotary Club meetings, there will be fried chicken.
  2. Tomato sandwiches are actually really really good. All you need is two pieces of bread and slice of tomato. It’s just that simple.
  3. If you can grow it, you can probably can it. My hosts for the summer, Kathryn and Joe Friday, have spent countless nights canning beans and tomatoes. What isn’t canned goes into the freezer.
  4. “I’m fixin’ to (fill in the blank). Translation: “I’m about to go do (fill in the blank).
  5. “The Devil is whipping his wife.” Every wondered what it’s called when it rains while the sun is shining? Well now you know.
  6. “Y’all/Y’all’s.” Translation: “You all.”
  7. Car doors are not locked. When the car is parked at home, there seems to be no need to lock the doors. People in small towns trust their neighbors enough to rest easy at night.
  8. I’m gonna (fill in the blank). It seems that “going” is too long of a word.
  9. All self-respecting people have at least one tomato plant. Tomatoes are big thing in the summer.
  10. image of food on table“Fried catfish is a delicacy.” Just try it y’all.
  11. People share their gardens. It’s not uncommon to hear one person say to another, “If you want some beans/tomatoes/berries bring you a five-gallon bucket and get what you want.”
  12. Five-gallon bucket. This is a necessary asset to any garden. All produce is measured in terms of “five-gallon buckets.”
  13. “Get you some bug spray.” The mosquitos are terrible, and unless you want to spend the rest of your day in misery, you WILL put some bug spray on.
  14. Everyone is kin to everyone else or at least knows who is kin to whom. This needs little explanation.
  15. Everyone knows where everyone else lives. It seems that every drive I take with Joe Friday involves him saying “You know so and so? Well, that’s their house right there.”  
  16. Church is a big part of Southern life. More than simply a religious service, Sunday morning worship is part spiritual and part social. It seems like everyone goes to the same church for generations.
  17. Sports are a big deal. If there’s a game at the ballpark, you can bet that brother, sister, father, mother, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles will all be there. Probably your mother’s best friend too.
  18.  Decoration Day. During the spring in rural towns and communities, local churches head out to the cemeteries for Decoration Day. The week before, church members clean up the cemetery. On the following Sunday, members turn out again to decorate the tombstones of their loved ones.  
  19. Friendships are for a lifetime. When you live in a town for generations, you tend to keep friends for life, along with all the memories.
  20. Local restaurants are always better. Sure, McDonalds, Sonic, Hardees, they’re all good for a fast meal on the go. But if you stop and ask where to get the best food, locals will send you to the best restaurant.

I love living in a small town. It’s quiet, intimate, fun, and full of good ole Southern loving. It’s an experience that I’ve enjoyed this summer, and one I will appreciate for a long time to come.

By Cristiana Shipma
Last Updated: July 03, 2014