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Old 06-06-2008, 03:02 AM
 
Location: Tunica, Mississippi
45 posts, read 183,916 times
Reputation: 31

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Quote:
Originally Posted by shirley smith View Post
I was born and raised in Mississippi. People from Mississippi and very friendly and easy to get along with. We usually do not 'bite our tongues' and we make you feel 'right at home' even though you may feel like a stranger. We do not stress over material things and we are grounded and very thankful for what we have. We have 'real' southern cooking, not the stuff they advertise as 'southern food' in some states. It is common to go 'barefoot' all summer, have a taste for red mud (and or starch) if you're pregnant, and know children who chew tobacco. A teenage girl may not date until she is out of high school and 'shotgun' weddings are planned for early teen pregnancies. Families are usually large (not impossible to come from a family of 15 siblings...I did) and clothes are 'hand-me-downs' (from one child to the next). If I can be of further service, just let me know. I hope this information was helpful.
Uh, it's nothing like that anymore. Barefoot? Girls not dating? Huge families? The only thing I think you got right is the food and the laid back attitude (which is GREAT).
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Old 06-06-2008, 07:31 AM
 
Location: Central Mississippi
356 posts, read 1,279,783 times
Reputation: 209
Quote:
Originally Posted by shirley smith View Post
I was born and raised in Mississippi. People from Mississippi and very friendly and easy to get along with. We usually do not 'bite our tongues' and we make you feel 'right at home' even though you may feel like a stranger. We do not stress over material things and we are grounded and very thankful for what we have. We have 'real' southern cooking, not the stuff they advertise as 'southern food' in some states. It is common to go 'barefoot' all summer, have a taste for red mud (and or starch) if you're pregnant, and know children who chew tobacco. A teenage girl may not date until she is out of high school and 'shotgun' weddings are planned for early teen pregnancies. Families are usually large (not impossible to come from a family of 15 siblings...I did) and clothes are 'hand-me-downs' (from one child to the next). If I can be of further service, just let me know. I hope this information was helpful.
I can't imagine where you were "born and raised in Mississippi". It certainly wasn't anyplace I've ever been. My son has 4 kids and that's considered a large family among people I know. My grandkids clothes mostly come from department stores like everybody else's. My granddaughters will definitely not be waiting till after high school to date either. Don't know anybody who has eaten red mud or kids who chew tobacco either.
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Old 06-06-2008, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Baton Rouge
794 posts, read 3,169,227 times
Reputation: 244
I was definitely a bare foot child though, at least until i was about 13 or so. And I got tired of the red bugs always eating at my feet. lol.

I wouldn't say Mississippians have large families as much as they have very extended families. But that's somewhat common throughout the southern US. My family for the most part is fair sized (although not as extended as some others I know), but I don't think any household has more than 4 kids in it. It's just that every family had 3 or 4 kids in it. And then their kids had 3 or 4 kids, and so forth.
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Old 06-06-2008, 01:05 PM
 
Location: N.C.
177 posts, read 911,824 times
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To get back to the OP's original post, a lot of these things we're debating could actually have been part of the 80's if not the 90's. We're all commenting on how things are today. I know growing up in the delta in the 70's & 80's I went without shoes almost always during the summer. The average family had 3 or 4 children. I don't know anything about eating red mud, the delta has "blue gumbo" mud but we didn't eat it. And if your definition of "kids" chewing tobacco is teens then you'e probably correct. There's always been teenage tobacco users.
How did we grow up in the 80's & 90's in Mississippi as opposed to comparing it with today would help the OP.
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Old 06-06-2008, 03:51 PM
 
67 posts, read 331,921 times
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You might want to read some of the "Sweet Potato Queen" books. They're funny and a quick read. They really will give you some good language to use. The books are a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you will certainly have a better idea of Mississippi afterward.
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Old 06-07-2008, 09:25 PM
 
Location: Gulfport, MS
469 posts, read 2,647,249 times
Reputation: 549
It may be true that one person out of 50,000 doesn't like Southern cooking, but considering the OP is researching for a novel, should she really care about a few anomalies? For that matter, why should we be ashamed of our cuisine and culture? I'm so sick and tired of Southerners being quick to say, "Oh, well I'M not like that!" at every classic Southern trait. I myself can't stand collards, but I love cornbread, watermelon, black-eyed peas, etc. I refuse to see myself or my peers as being lesser because we enjoy the things we were raised on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Southlander View Post
Agree there, too; however, as I explore my various genealogical lines, I find the same names repeated. This was in the mountains of North Carolina, so it wasn't easy to find other folks.
Another myth...that Southerners marry young...in doing that same genealogical research, I find that the young people of 100 and 150 and 200 years ago marry at about the same age as today. The 15- and 16-year-old brides are there, but they are rare.
Like I said, you see complicated kinship groups, but actual inbreeding wasn't terribly common, or at least surely no more common than in any other part of the country. Inbreeding is reproduction between two blood relatives.

For example: my great-grandfather married twice. His wives were cousins to one another, but not to him. Their children were at once both half-siblings and second cousins. Were their children inbred? NO. Their mother and father were not related in any way, shape, or form.

Another example: my grandfather's brother married my grandmother's sister. Their children are my mother's double-first cousins. Are any of these people inbred? NO. Their parents were not related in any way, shape, or form.

Now, if my mother had married one of her double-first cousins, that would be inbreeding. But she did not marry her double-first cousin. My father is from halfway across the state, and not related to my mother in any way, shape, or form. Now, does this mean no one in the state of MS has ever married their cousin? Of course not. There's some distant relatives of mine, like my cousin's cousin's cousin, who married their cousins. I am offended when Southerners are represented as inbred, tootheless, banjo-picking grotesqueries. Complicated kinship groups does NOT mean inbreeding was rampant. It simply means that people had a limited number of eligible marital partners until recently, and so you'd see cases where someone married their brother-in-law's half-sister, so forth and so on.

Conveniently, this segues into shirley smith's claim about big families. Big families used to be very common, and may have been common in shirley's day. Not so much anymore. I have one friend who came from a family of five children, and her family's Catholic (no birth control). Most everyone else my age (mid-20s and younger) comes from single child families, or had maybe one or two siblings. Of course, divorces and remarriages can result in much bigger blended families. But most people in MS can't afford that many kids anymore, or don't want that many.

Back before about the 1950s, you did see huge families. My great-grandfather had 18 by two wives (one wife had nine, the second had ten). As my mama puts it, "po' folks didn't have nothin' else to do with their time." Also, you wanted lots of children to work on the farm. Combine that with lack of birth control and people marrying young, and you'd see families with six, seven, eight, etc. One of my ancestors had twenty-two children! This is why Southerners have these huge extended families. Also, because so many people lived in little towns without a lot of transportation, that's why one families' ten children would all marry a neighboring family's ten children, resulting in dozens of double-first cousins, etc.

I did run barefoot in the summer, and I grew up in the 1990s. A lot of kids my age did, too. Why not? It's fun. I never got ringworm or anything (although I did get bitten by redbugs).
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Old 07-31-2009, 08:35 PM
 
3 posts, read 6,356 times
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I totally agree w/ Mississippienne's take on rural Mississippi. In the 80s-90s, the kids were into everything from country music to Ozzy Osbourne. Summers were filled with youth baseball leagues. Nobody played soccer in rural MS communities back then. Maybe soccer could be found in the Jackson area or on the coast. Friday nights were centered around high school football or basketball.

For entertainment, it was common for kids to get together late at night and 'roll yards', throwing toilet paper into trees so that it made colorful streamers on their friends' property. One could easily go through a case of paper with a little help from buddies. Other times, kids with driver's licenses would take their buddies and 'ride the block' in some town close by. This meant circling around a block or series of blocks, often the town square, as the object was to see and be seen.

Many rural kids took part in 4-H activities, showing livestock at local county shows or at the state fair, competing for a blue ribbon or trophy, or sometimes a scholarship. Many kids aspired to go to Mississippi State University (the aggie school) or Ole Miss (where many of our med students, lawyers, and accountants were educated). Apologies to all the other schools, if you feel left out.

It was a simpler time. If you had a summer job, great. If you didn't, great. The bad stuff was pot and alcohol, but few were into pot. Many didn't even mess around with alcohol very much. Many counties, including Smith County, where I was reared, was 'dry'. We had to have our alcohol 'bootlegged' in from the next county. And in the next county, you could usually find a beer barn, a place where you could drive your car in one end, have your beer order filled and the beer put into your car's trunk, and then leave through the other end.

I am having fun just remembering all these sorts of things. I never see this kind of stuff now, even in rural Nebraska. At the end of the day, in the 80s and 90s, kids in rural MS still largely respected their parents and school teachers. Most said 'Yes Ma'am' and 'No Sir'. We were taught to do that. Most of us that claimed a religion believed in Jesus as our Savior and had been baptized via full dunking. We lived in very ethnically mixed communities and small towns and made it work. And today, like then, you can still go out at night and see a sky full of stars and hear the crickets chirping.

Can't wait to get back for a long visit!
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:04 AM
 
Location: Louisville, KY
522 posts, read 1,517,993 times
Reputation: 230
Another thought in the language department is that people in Miss. say, "Hey" instread of "hi" as a greeting. It's not unique to Miss (they say that alot in New Mexico also) but they definately say that there. Good point made earlier about "fixin to." They've been saying that for at least 40 years (I lived there when I was 14) I visited there fairly recently and found it amusing that everyone is always "fixin" to do something. As far as the food goes - plenty of people in Miss eat salads and healthy food, but it doesn't mean they don't still love fried okra, cornbread, grits, fried chicken and biscuits. Most of my family do not eat this stuff every day but some of that is usually on the menu for Sunday dinners, which usually take place 2 to 3 hours after church. And, yes, almost everyone goes to church, but it doesn't preclude some of them from having the same vices that exist no matter where you like - like infidelty, excessive drinking, etc. Church is a part of life for most people there, like school and work, and most people make friends there and socialize with those they meet there, just like is the case for school and work. Most do have deep faith - so they feel more GUILTY about their vices than people in some other, less religious areas of the country.
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Old 08-05-2009, 02:48 PM
 
Location: south Missouri
438 posts, read 999,708 times
Reputation: 290
Just a word of advice from a writer, here, is write what you know.

If you're not from Mississippi and know nothing about Mississippi, you'll never get it right.
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Old 08-13-2009, 11:00 PM
 
1,098 posts, read 2,872,639 times
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For a day-to-day picture of small-town Mississippi, you could start by googling 'Mississippi newspapers' and reading the small town papers online daily. What's likely to stand out is how normal it is. In reality, most kids go to public school, play sports, go to church youth group activities, movies, hanging out at the grocery store parking lots on Friday night, probably drinking in high school etc, and all spending time on the internet.

What separates small towns is the presence of a large extended family, with grandparents, cousins, and neighbors who see each other on a regular basis. What separates the Deep South is that many people go to church on Sundays and Wednesday nights for Bible study. The youth church activities are more likely to be normal social events and youth activities (e.g. church baseball team, church choir, movie outings etc).

Because of large extended families, friends, and neighbors who have known each other for decades and close relationships at church, a small-town kid is likely to know a cast of characters and personalities of all types for their entire life from childhood.

What also distinguishes Mississippi are picture-perfect fall and spring weather, chilly but not especially cold and relatively brief cloudy winters, and steamy summers. With brisk fall weather comes Friday night high school football games and cold Saturday morning deer and duck hunting. Mississippi is full of wooded areas, meandering streams, and lakes. So fishing is extremely popular. Near the Gulf Coast, obviously a lot time is spent on the water.

Teenagers are likely to have part-time jobs at grocery stores, movie theatres, fast food restraurants, and perhaps auto shops and the like. Almost certainly the family would make frequent trips to Wal-Mart which virtually everyone loves.

A kid in a working class home in a small MS town is likely to live 5 or 10 miles outside of town in a modest house or neatly kept mobile home surrounded by low hills and wooded areas. The family is likely to have 4-wheelers they ride out in the country and freqently attend local high school football, basketball, and baseball games and participate in church sports leagues and school bands and field trips.

There will be some affluent families that play tennis and golf and make frequent trips to Florida, the Caribbean, and around the country (and perhaps England etc) and attend lots of college football games which double as huge events. They are also likely to be into hunting and fishing and probably have acreage outside of town, perhaps with horses, cows, fishing ponds, cabins with big fireplaces, etc.

Everyone now seems to have 50-inch televisions, internet, DVDs, computer games, etc.

Small towns in Mississippi compared to rural areas in most other parts of America are also unique in their combination of both whites and blacks. By and large people go about their every day lives in small towns relatively harmoniously, at banks, grocery stores, schools, etc. This diversity combined with what is for the most part rather mundane daily life, relatively undisturbed without major conflict, actually is a tribute to Mississippi's well-mannered, unpretentious, and very independent and self-reliant culture.

There are a few places that stand apart from this general description of Mississippi such as the Gulf Coast towns, college towns, larger cities and suburban areas, and the Delta region, each of which have their own ideosynchracies. But in probably three-fourths of the state, this is a fairly typical portrayal.
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