I am a Southern boy, through and through. Born and raised in Macon, GA, I have spent my entire life in the South. Southerners are a complex and, many times, conflicted people. I know that generalizations don’t work, but for the sake of discussion, allow me to generalize a bit. We are proud, patriotic people, who tend to be conservative and religious. We love family, and are loyal and devoted to our friends and loved ones.
Ties to the land are strong, whether farming, hunting, fishing or other outdoor activities. One of my favorite possessions is an oil painting done by a friend of my Mother’s Father. I never knew either of my Grandfathers, but this painting depicts the artist and my Grandfather on a bird hunt – quail I’m sure. The two men are walking through the field with their bird dogs in the lead. Each man has his shotgun over his arm and each is dressed in a three piece suit and hat (bowlers I think), eagerly waiting for the dogs to point a bird. These were Southern gentlemen of another era.
My Dad was also a Southern gentleman. Dad almost always wore a hat. Not a ball cap, and certainly not backwards, but a real hat. Never did Dad fail to remove his hat when indoors (except maybe at the peach packing shed), and never did he pass a lady that he didn’t tip his hat to.
Today much of Southern culture and tradition has been diluted by the large number of folks who have moved here from many areas. I’ve been scowled at and spoken to quite rudely when holding the door for a female (I find it hard to use the word “lady” in this context). For some reason, these days it seems to be an insult which implies that a woman needs a man to hold a door for her. No insult intended – just part of what was considered courtesy at one time.
The use of Sir and Ma’am when speaking to one’s elders is also a piece of Southern culture and tradition that has disappeared. I was taught that this was the polite and proper manner in which to address older and hopefully wiser folks than I. But no more.
Just like anywhere, many changes are positive and many not so much. I, for one, miss the politeness and courtesy that was once much more a part of Southern culture and tradition, and am sorry that our political correctness and over sensitivity in some areas has taken these things away.
P.S. – I don’t really care what they do with the flag of R. E. Lee’s Army of Virginia. It was co-opted in the 1950’s and 1960’s by people who were filled with hate. We don’t need that. However, we seem to have lost “Dixie”, a beautiful song, and I really do not like that!