I was born and raised in Danville, Ark.—population 2,000—where the chickens outnumber people. I learned to “call them Hawgs” as soon as I could utter my first words. I knew how to drive a four-wheeler before I turned 10, and my friends and I went riding in the rain, sun and snow. I’ve played barefoot in the creek, donned my camo for hunting trips and baited fishing hooks with chicken livers. And, when I say words like “toe-let” (toilet) and “fell” (fail), my accent gets in the way.
But, let me be clear on this one: I am not a hick.
I’ve never beheaded a chicken. I don’t have a recliner as patio furniture. And I have certainly never kissed my cousin. In fact, I live on a golf course. I have never owned a pair of coveralls. And my father has only threatened one of my boyfriends with a shotgun once.
No, I am not a hick. But I do know my share, and they are some of the greatest people I have ever met. So let me defend my friends, my people in a way “The Wright Delight” so failed to do. Let me show you what makes the South so great.
First of all, everyone’s heard the phrase “Southern hospitality,” but have you really experienced it? In Danville, everyone waves to you when you drive by. Every cashier has a friendly smile. Every waitress is ready to serve you. And, when something tragic happens—like the death of a family member—you better believe dozens will be at your door with homemade casseroles and desserts in hand, ready to help in any way possible.
Secondly, the South is in the heart of the Bible belt. My teachers never once got in trouble for mentioning God in class. We pray before every single football and basketball game with no objections. My parents never thought twice about my brothers and me walking the streets of town because Danville is acknowledged as a “safe place to be.” A sense of trust and security just exist in a way I’ve never experienced in other non-Southern towns.
Finally, Southerners just know how to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Whether it is sweet iced tea, homemade ice cream, or fried catfish, we know how to eat and eat well.
Whether it’s long walks through the woods, a swim in the lake or a Friday night home game, we know how to entertain ourselves. Just gather up a bunch of friends and fire up the grill and we know how to have a good time. We truly know what it means to just slow down and be content with what we have.
Needless to say, I love my hometown and I love my friends and family who live there even more. So, if you are going to stereotype us as “hicks,” then you better get the whole stereotype right. We are so much more than accents and coveralls. We are incredibly friendly people who love Jesus and love life. Just remember that the next time you’re tempted to laugh at my Southern drawl. Dill? Deal.