Skip to comments.Where Does the South End?
Posted on 09/21/2009 12:50:12 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Dear Old Friend,
It was wholly a pleasure to hear your theory about where the South ends, probably because any theory about the South will get a conversation going around dinner tables, at barber shops, in graduate seminars on Southern history, and just about anywhere else in these talkative latitudes.
Your theory is that the South ends where the last monument to the Confederate soldier can be seen. This would mean that Bentonville, up in the far northwest corner of Arkansas, and known far and wide as the capital of Wal-Mart, qualifies as Southern. This might comes as a surprise, or even an unwarranted claim, to folks in Arkansas farther south, who think of the northwestern corner of the state as Midwestern. Or at least Oklahoman.
If you think being considered Midwestern is a step up from Southern (and I am rather fond of Midwesterners myself with their open, friendly manner), then you're not a Southerner. If you think of it as a step down, then you're a Southerner no matter where you live. Or at least you're someone who prefers the distinctive to the bland.
I know where the South ends in Arkansas. Or begins, depending on which way you're traveling. It's at the Mammoth Orange diner in Redfield, Ark., colloquially known as the Big Orange. Check it out. You can have one of those big burgers while you're there. I wonder if they still serve Grapette sodas. An RC Cola and a Moon Pie might be too much to hope for in these all too advanced times.
The South ends at Redfield because Southernness is a function of mean elevation above sea level: the lower the altitude, the more black folks and black soil, the more traces of the plantation economy and culture, the more Southern. Which is why the Arkansas delta is more Southern than the Arkansas hills. Redfield is just before the hills begin, therefore it's on the uneven line of demarcation between North and South. Q.E.D.
I've often thought the Big Orange ought to put up one of those markers like they have out west to note the continental divide. Only this one would say: "Here the South Ends, May the Lord Be With You. (At Least as Far as Little Rock.)" On the other side, the marker would say: "Welcome to the South, Y'all." The welcome wouldn't be complete without that second-person plural. Not just geography and climate change when you enter Dixie, but the language.
So how come you find pockets of deep-dyed Southernness in unlikely places like the hills of eastern Tennessee or in the middle of Missouri? The then-little town of Columbia, Mo., where I went to school for a couple of idyllic years, was in Boone County, which at the time used to be called Little Dixie.
My explanation: Southerners on the periphery of the South have to be the most aware of their Southernness in order to hold on to their identity. The way you might find the most ardent nationalists of any stripe on the outskirts of the nation. See George Orwell's essay, "Notes on Nationalism."
Southernness, it turns out, is a moveable feast, for Southern is more than a geographical designation; it's a cultural one. Folks in Mississippi don't have to talk about being Southern; they just are, while the baneful tribe of professional Southerners seems to crop up most conspicuously in the outer reaches of Dixie.
There's also a Southern diaspora, which knows no bounds; you may run into representatives of it on New York's Upper East Side or in Paris' fashionable Sixteenth Arrondissement. Or in a simple little pension in Florence. Just listen for an accent that sounds like home and there the South will be, for the South extends far beyond the South,
The other Great Question of our time, or any American time, is: Where does the West begin? That's a column for another day. But one sure nominee would be Kansas City, Mo., though I've heard it said that Fort Worth is where the West begins while Dallas is where the East peters out.
As someone who's been lost more than once on a Dallas freeway, I can testify that Dallas certainly isn't the South. Indeed, those who claim the South fought the Civil War to keep Atlanta from happening may never have considered the possibilities of Dallas.
To be truly Southern, there must be something agrarian about a place even if it's a city. It must have at least a long-lost connection with an agricultural society to qualify.
Grits, black-eyed peas, hurry back, and all that.
If you live north of Houston, you’re a Yankee.
If you live north of Dallas, you’re a damn Yankee.
Nowhere. It shall rise again.
If you live South of Biloxi, you’re either treading water or drowning.
I’ve seen the battleflag flying as far north as Carbondale, IL.
The South ends in Florida about Lake Okeechobee. South of that is something else, can’t routinely get grits or sweet tea.
A lot of southern Illinois and Indiana is more southern than much of urban Georgia.
...and Texas is Texas. Texas is not part of any geographic region, it IS a geographic region.
...these days I’m just trying to figure out when and where America ended.
It's not dead, it's just learning a hard lesson.
A damn hard lesson.
I have no clue. But I’m sure you can’t get good panzarotti there.
Does it snow there with any accumulation? Do the residents of said place own snow shovels? If the answer is “yes,” it isn’t the south.
I am proud to say that I, and my daughters, are G.R.I.T.S.
Visit the southern 2 tiers of counties in Iowa, and they speak with a heavy southern accent; no kidding! I didn’t believe it myself until I visited there. Even in rural Northern Missouri they speak with a heavy southern accent.
There used to be an old joke, if you removed the southern 2 tiers of counties from Iowa, and added them on to Missouri, you’d increase the IQ levels of both states!
Sorry Southern Iowa. I love ya!
there are really two souths
there is the South......Oklahoma to Lower Missouri to Louisville to Lexington and even part of West VA and then Old Dominion and parts of Maryland even and then all parts south with major Yankee pockets nowadays
then there is Dixie...a whole nother subject and from where I am so lucky to come from...
basically east Texas from Dallas east and into the southern half of Arkansas and Western TN and even fingers into old cotton land in western Ky and then south below the Tennessee river (Nashville where I live now is NOT Dixie) and into northern Alabama, most of Georgia except metro Atlanta and into South Carolina, and tidewater NC and VA and then back down into northern Florida and fingers dipping down as far as Clewiston and Lake Okeechobee and even Davie and then back up across to Louisiana to Beaumont TX....anyhwere you can smell decaying earth or moss on trees or red clay hills or coffee or black water then you are there
there is no other region in America with as much distinctive collective character...no matter where I go in the world when i hear a Dixie native speak I know it...immediately
Capitals of Dixie are Charleston, Savannah, Macon, Mobile, Montgomery, Tallahasse, New Orleans..yes, Aiken....Birmingham is sorta just South and not Dixie...whereas Franklin south of Nashville where I live now is defintely Dixie
Memphis, Richmond and Jackson Mississippi are Dixie but are now so gilded with gone to seed it’s just too sad to wax about them the same anymore.
North Carolina has been invaded...it’s hard to tell anymore...maybe Winston?
We view the south as opposed to Dixie as tolerable just less genuine or if you will...lapsed.
My late father’s side of the family is in Allendale (tiny!) and St. Joe, Missouri. I once took a transfer to work in Centerville, Iowa and an older lady in my office knew more about my family than I’ll ever know. Weird.
Go to Hell.
Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Go directly to Hell.
And no, I'm not smiling.
Your mother entertains Yankees for nickels and dimes.
“though I’ve heard it said that Fort Worth is where the West begins while Dallas is where the East peters out. “
Seems to me I read about some scholarly type doing a study of “the South,” and as a rule of thumb he defined “the South” by the simple expedient of looking in the Yellow Pages of the local phone books. If a place had businesses with names that had the word “Dixie” in them (Dixie Diner, Dixie Cleaners, Dixie Auto Sales...), it was Southern. Supposedly it worked pretty well and the use of the word “Dixie” petered out right where you would have expected it to.
As it happens, I’m from Mt. Vernon, OH, home town of Daniel Decatur Emmett, who wrote the song “Dixie,” and I remember my Ninth Grade Biology teacher lived on Dixie Drive. There might be other uses of the word “Dixie” in that particular town to honor its claim to fame (I haven’t lived there in many a moon, so I haven’t kept up), but that would be an exception to the general principle that northern towns wouldn’t have much Dixie in them.
“Ive seen the battleflag flying as far north as Carbondale, IL.”
I’ve seen it painted on the top of a barn roof between Cincy and Columbus, OH.
The South Ain’t A Place!!!
It’s A State Of Mind!!!...;0)
The south ends at the border of all the blue counties that consistently vote democrat.