North versus South

North vs. South
There are a lot of differences between the North and the South, between the “Yankees” and the “Confederates.” Some are subtle, but others are very obvious.

One of the most obvious differences is how people speak, and I’m not just talking about the accent. You have to learn to speak differently in the South. Down here, everyone’s “Sir” or Ma’am,” if not “Baby.” It’s Miss Mary Ann, not Mrs. Smith. It’s Mr. John, not Mr. Jones. It’s meant as a term of respect, but trying to remember the “Ma’am” or “Miss” in front of a first name isn’t as easy as it sounds. Don’t they say, “It’s hard for an old dog to learn new tricks.”

And that’s not all. In the South, it’s “mama” and “daddy.” Down here, people really do ask, “Who’s your daddy?” They’re asking who your kinfolk are, who you belong to. It seems everyone’s always talking about their daddy.

The differences run deeper than just the language or the accent, though. There’s the food, for one. Country cookin,’ fried hushpuppies and okra, turnips, collard greens, and it’s true – the southerners sure do love their fried food. They also love their BBQ, pulled pork, cracklin (pig skin), grits, biscuits and gravy or sausage, boiled peanuts and pecans. And don’t forget about the sweet tea! For any of you Northerners, don’t think that you can just add a packet of sugar to iced tea!

People in many parts of the South often hunt at least some of their own food. A lot of people looked at me in shock when I said I’d never been hunting before. Hunting, even with a bow and arrow, is definitely a big sport in many areas. And talking about sport, hog-tying and mud-slinging (involving a truck or pick-up) are also great forms of entertainment and sport.

One of the most glaring differences has to do with smoking. Up North, smokers are in the small minority and very few would ever dream of smoking inside the house. Down South, non-smokers are far outnumbered by smokers, and people usually do smoke inside their homes. I found myself way outnumbered here!

The South has a huge number of small churches, many of them Baptist along the Gulf Coast and in northern Florida. You almost couldn’t walk a block without tripping over one. One of my favorite quotes came from Morris in Alabama, who told us of a southern saying: “In the South, you can’t throw a cat without hitting a church!” Along with that come all the people who can’t hold a conversation without asking you about your religious beliefs or asking what church you belong to.

Another difference has to do with the fact that the Civil War is still very much alive in large parts of the South. Aside from history class in elementary school, no northerner ever speaks or even thinks of the Civil War. Well, it’s still a hot topic down South! It’s as if people are still reliving the war in their minds and playing out what might have been or what could have been. Some people still manage to get upset when they talk about it! Like our friend from Alabama who said in all sincerity, “The Civil War was all economics . But let’s not talk about the Civil War. It was too recent.”

Shops even sell children’s books that tell the story of the Civil War. There are books of “Civil War recipes” and “Civil War heroes” and even books of “Civil War Songs!”

Southerners marry much younger and have children much younger than their northern counterparts. The majority of women we met had been married before or by age 20, and the large majority of them had also divorced young. It was not uncommon for a woman to have children at age 16.

What else? Well, I suppose it’s the hot and humid climate, but the South is a haven for biting insects. It’s like mosquito and gnat heaven down in the South. It’s awful!

Of course, the South is also known for its hospitality, and we can attest to the truthfulness of that. We were welcomed into someone’s home almost every night that we spent in the South! It’s an ironic thing. So many Americans talk about being afraid of a stranger, their neighbor, of murder and violence, and yet these same people will easily approach a complete stranger, talk to them in the street, and even invite them into their own homes!