Do we have unique Southern traditions? Of course we do! Consider these pointed out by Olivia Byrd:
- “Southern women talk slow and in detail!” True, “dahling”!
- Is it a Southern thing to write thank-you notes? Good etiquette for all, I believe.
- Lots of food, flowers, friends, and family at funerals. Yes.
- Daily gatherings for coffee, either morning or afternoon.
- Every community has town characters.
- Nicknames for everybody!
- Surrogate mothers, aunts or grandmothers named by everyone in town.
- And then, there’s our hair. “Southern women are neurotic about our hair. One hundred per cent humidity and hair is a very challenging combination.”
These and many other details of our Southern culture are in Ms Byrd’s delightful little book. For light summer reading on these sizzling summer days, read Miss Hildreth Wore Brown, the title of a charming book of Southern stories by Olivia deBelle Byrd. Indeed born and bred in the South, Olivia graduated from Birmingham-Southern College and now lives in Panama City, Florida with her husband Tommy and their two children, Tommy Jr. and Elizabeth.
Jane Christensen, my daughter’s mother-in-law in Baton Rouge, gave me the book recently. She found it in Fairhope, Alabama, bought one copy and went back and got several more for friends. Jane knows how I love to read.
Posted in the front of the book, along with the legal disclaimers, is a choice statement: “Like all good Southern stories, embellishments and exaggeration have been added to these real events.” You’ll even find some mothering hints thrown in.
Among the forty-one anecdotes are these: Hair; Robert Redford; Thank You Notes; Southern Do’s and Don’ts; The South; and my personal favorite, Colors.
Finishing the book, I was so delighted with the latter vignette, I read parts aloud to Kate while she gave me a pedicure at “B-B’s,” Beverly Slover’s popular business on Main Street in Magee. Later I read aloud the same part to my friend Beverly, “B.B’s” owner. Excuse me, some well-dressed men readers of MississippiMom. But sometimes men need help matching colors or choosing outfits. Now I’m complimented when my dear husband asks, “Does this match?” Success. He’s learned to notice! One of Olivia Byrd’s humorous stories from “Colors” to whet your appetite. She tells a funny story about her husband asking her to pick up some slacks for him while she was out shopping. Do any of you identify with this? “What color?” she asked. “Blue and brown ought to do it!” he answered. “Marine blue, navy blue, dark blue, chocolate brown, mocha brown, or latte brown?” she queried. Through clenched teeth he replied, “I just want blue and brown.” They go through the same procedure at Christmastime when he asks her to get a red tie for him while she was out shopping. Do you notice a theme? “Cranberry red, crimson red, Christmas red, cerise red, blood red, or berry red?” He stresses each syllable as he replies, “I just want a red tie!”
You’ll love the surprise ending and sometimes smile or even laugh out loud at the warm little ‘dah-ling’ vignettes of Southern life. Miss Hildreth Wore Brown: Anecdotes of a Southern Belle, Olivia deBelle Byrd, Morgan James Publishers, Garden City, New York, 2010. An interesting note: the publisher donates 1% of all book sales to “Habitat for Humanity.” Read Miss Hildreth Wore Brown. It’ll make you smile! Happy Summer!
Love, Nana o/`