Sunday, July 12, 2015

When Being Country Wasn't Redneck

I went to a mud bog last night. I was really surprised at how many people were amazed that I went. I am thinking there are a lot of folks that have no idea how I grew up. I am about to enlighten you.

I grew up in Kinsey, AL. Chevy Country and the apartments were not around until I got in high school. I grew up in a Kinsey that was laid back, safe and fun. We could walk to church and seldom drove.  I grew up a short walk from my Granny and Grandaddy and many days were spent just hanging out with them.

Summer time was the best. Once I finished my long list of chores, the rest of the day was mine to do whatever I wanted to do. If the chores took longer than usual, my friends Janet and Tami would help so that we could get busy with our day. We would leave early in the morning and often not returning until well after dark. We didn't have cell phones so our parent often had no clue where we were or what we were up to. We lived in a different time so, there was never a concern about our safety. All of the neighbors would keep an eye out and there was always someone who knew where we were.

We spent our days riding bikes and walking every where we went. Many days were spent on Ham Branch road playing in the creek. Back then, there was no bridge and the creek went across the road. We rambled in the Kinsey Baptist Cemetery and learned a lot about our history and family from those old headstones. Back then, there was always a Grand parent around to tell you who it was, what they did, who they were related to and how they died.We never wore shoes. By the end of the day, we had what most people now refer to as grocery store feet. Ours were dirty from good old Alabama clay and dirt. When it was time for me to come home, my Daddy would whistle really loud. Often, I was to far away to hear it but, it would travel from neighbor to neighbor until it finally reached me. "Rhonda, your Daddy is whistling for you" I knew I better run as fast as I could because once he whistled, you better get there fast.

I learned how to drive on an old VW Beetle Stick shift. I was only 13 years old. Most of us were driving at 13 and 14 and never worried about getting in trouble because that is just the way it was. As we got older, we moved from bikes to dirt bikes and then to old cars and trucks. When we turned 16, we got the old cars and our parents drove the new ones. My first vehicle was a 1970 something Chevy step side truck. We spent weekends mudding. There is nothing more fun than riding a dirt bike thru a big old mud hole! Many Saturday nights were spent at the Rocket Speedway, down the road from our house, watching the races and the nights we didn't go, we were asked by Daddy, "You want to go outside and listen to the races?" Of course we ran outside to do just that.

I learned to shoot pistols and shot guns at a young age. I was taught not to fear them but, to have respect for them. I have been deer hunting and bird hunting. Fishing in my Grandaddy's pond was a favorite past time. I could bait my own hook with worms, crickets and minnows. Although I hated to use minnows. for some reason it made me sad.

One of my jobs was to feed and water my Granny and Grandaddy's chickens and gather the eggs.  I don't mean a hand full of chickens in a little chicken coop. These chickens were in a big chicken yard and some times there were any where from fifty to a hundred chickens. When we had friend chicken, it was really fresh. Once an old rooster that decided to try to spur me, ended up on Granny's table for supper,and of course he was fried up just right.

My Grandaddy once brought two little calves to their house instead of the farm. We promptly named them Festus and Miss Kitty. We played and fed those calves until they got really big. One day Grandaddy brought the trailer home and said something about taking them to slaughter. We put up such a fuss crying and carrying on, my Granny told him he shouldn't have let us get attached to them and now he was going to have to keep them so, keep them he did. I know some other cows ended up on the table but, it was okay because I never me them.

I grew up in a time where all we knew was being country. Everyone helped with the peanut harvest in the fall. It may be driving a tractor, driving trucks pulling peanut wagons to the drier or taking sandwiches and sweet tea to the field. We picked our on tomatoes, peas, squash, corn and cut okra in the early morning when it wasn't so hot. We didn't get peas already shelled. We sat around with big pans and shelled them ourselves. The rest of the day was spent in a hot steamy kitchen blanching and putting everything in bags to freeze.

I grew up in a time where everyone around here was country and redneck was not part of our world. Loud cars, mud, guns and horns that played dixie were just part of life. I grew up getting dirty, muddy, shooting guns and driving fast cars and trucks but, easily transitioned into a girly girl with makeup, big hair, halter tops and frills when ever I got the chance.

Going to a mud bog does not make you redneck, it just means you grew up country and country is all you know. I can dress up and become an elegant lady just as easy as I can put on a pair of jeans and t-shirt become country. I appreciate a nice smooth riding Mercedes but, nothing beats a jacked up truck with loud pipes. I can maneuver my way through a big city with ease but, deep down inside, I am just a country girl at heart. Life can be stressful and complicated and a hot summer night with family, watching loud trucks stirring up some mud and dust, can take you back to the simpler way of life and remind you that being country is really not so bad.