Courtney S. Barr

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Monday, June 23, 2008

The people I love - My Southern Family

Everyone comes from somewhere. There is some sort of an iconic recognition to every location that exists. Be it the snow birds of the North or the way that a Northerner carries himself as he walks down the street; the way a midwesterner has that monotone voice & every one of them seems to know about farming - even the city dwellers; on the West Coast how 'catching a wave' is an everyday occasion or how seeing a celebrity is normal. In the South we have a plethera of stereotypes, double entendres, icons, and just well symbols of our culture.

Camden is definitely a place full of each of these things. From the accents, to trade, to hobbies, to careers, even to education - "It is the war between the states, there was nothing civil about it!"
Well no family in Wilcox county doesn't have at least one if not all members that exude a stereotype recognized by geography. Mine is of course no different. Each of us displays a bit of Southern culture - Nina's is the transplant, the southerner who has been out of the true South for many years but still exudes the traits she was raised within. She teaches them to her children making them just as Southern as though they had been born in Lower Alabama.

Eric is like a walking southern Pine tree. His movements are slow and easy, his accent is thick and country, his demeanor & friendly manners ooze Southern gent without the white colonel Sanders suit. He is a southern man - contemporary only in certain circles - he prefers a cabin in the woods on some land he can hunt & a good woman at his side. Then there is me - the Southern Princess. I truly enjoy everything about the South. There are places I love and would love to see, to travel all around the world. But every place that I have been has never lived up to my view of the South. Sure I have enjoyed the visits, but my home is in the South. Now I include Florida in that statement - no matter how many snowbirds are found on its beaches. :) I know that my voice carries a soft enough accent to be useful on a phone conversation to a northerner, I know that hospitality is next to godliness, and that cooking good food is the epitome of the southern home. All these traits I work to put forth in my everyday life. Now we get to my parents: Bernard & Debbie - there are no other two people who represent Southern grace, kindness, hospitality & love like these two people. They were both raised to appreciate the land in a way that I may never understand. They see the Southern resourcefulness & embrace it everyday. They are so very happy with who they are, what they have, and where they are that contentment does not even begin to describe them. They are essential Southerners.

Then there is my oldest brother Jeremy. Jeremy left the south at a young age, but the south stayed with him. I always hoped he would return & he did not let me down. Not only did the Jeremy who left returned, but he returned even more Southern than when he left! Not possible you say, well it is. He is the stereotype Southern - leave - me - with - my - gun - my - dog - my - food - my - woman - and - my - porch - but - if - you - need - something - I - will - be - there. He is so Southern. Each one of us has our redneck moments, Jeremy's most recent one takes the cake. It was more comical to family than to anyone else - as it should be. I saw a picture of him in the Wilcox Progressive Era - a newspaper that comes out only once a week in Camden. Yes only once a week. :)

There was my brother on the back page in all his southern glory holding a gun, a snake, barefooted in the yard. Now this picture conjured up a memory: Jeremy holding a snake, a gun, barefooted, in my parents yard. He was probably 17 or 18 so proud to have gotten that snake. Here he is today 38 so proud to have gotten this snake. The only change in the two pics is the hair, the weight, & the age. Even the clothes are quite similar. In the young picture he has a tank top cut short, cutoff jeans, and sunglasses on his head. Here he lacks the sunglasses & the shirt is a t-shirt but the effect is the same. I smiled big and wide when I saw the paper at my parents - not mockingly mind you but because that is MY BIG BROTHER.

Each one of us has changed, grown, matured, but we have also all kept some trait that uniquely makes us who we are as individuals. Jeremy has always loved Camden - even when he gripes about it - he loves it. He has always loved hunting, always loved fishing, always loved just sittin on his big porch on his big southern home enjoying the evening. He is the type who will cut the grass of the older woman next door just because. He will show affection in his own way - nicknames & reminiscing. He will laugh outloud no matter who is around - truly enjoying a good joke, story, or moment. He is honest sometimes to a fault or at least to a blunt fault. He loves his parents with open kindness. He finds great comfort in the simplest things & is very much a country boy. Of all of us Jeremy exudes the best parts of redneck. Not the comical - mean spirited - picking on where you are from redneck. No, he is the good ole boy.

The guy who went to war for the country he loves. The guy that has the big truck to get you out when you are in a bind, the knowledge of a million different random car/motorcyle/boat randomness, the guy's guy in so many ways, but also the big softie. The guy who made his youngest sister feel like a princess everyday that he was home. The guy who gave her a nickname when she was little & to this day calls her by that nickname - making her smile every time. This guy is someone I am proud to call country/redneck/Southerner. I don't post about him often so this one is for Jeremy. I loved this picture in the paper & found myself thinking of how great you are...Thank you for being you. (I will have to find the picture from when you were a teen & put it up here sometime...for kicks :) )

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