Culture…how mine might be different from yours, but that’s ok so long as you don’t make fun of me! And I don’t make fun of you!
“Bucksnort and Hickman County! I mean no real people live there, do they? You just can’t mean any real people live in Bucksnort!”
The woman in front of me wasn’t from around here…not even from the South. I could tell that by her accent, she style, or lack there of, and her manner. She wore a straight brown bob with no make up, a brown skirt and blouse and was hold a plastic glass of pink wine.
We were in the Belmont/Hillsboro Theatre in Nashville, Tennessee, waiting for a bluegrass show featuring the Tim Rice and Peter Rowan quartet. People were talking and having a great time, but over and over this woman asked, “Real people don’t live in Bucksnort, do they?”
We were in Nashville celebrating 30 years of marriage. We had both met and married in Nashville, had lived in the city for a while, and then we had moved to, get this, Hickman County. Granted, we didn’t move to Bucksnort. It was too far away. But we did moved to Bon Aqua, and I’m quite sure the same woman hadn’t heard of it or if she had would have made fun of a place in Tennessee with the French name of Good Water!
Neither of us are “from” Tennessee. Raf actually came “from” Pennsylvania by way of New Jersey and Ohio, and I was/am “from” Texas. And we didn’t go to Tennessee and begin making fun of what Raf’s aunt called the “locals” (and that story is for a whole different segment of this writing). I don’t think is occurred to us that they should be made fun of.
As an aside, I just ended the last sentence in a preposition, which always reminds me of the haughty woman who, when asked by a Southerner, “Where you from”, replied, “I’m from a place where we don’t end our sentences in prepositions.” To which the Southern lady replied, “Oh, where you from, Bitch?”
If you move to an area, you should learn the local customs or culture and realize that you are the outsider, the learner, and not the only correct person in the region.
Actually Raf and I didn’t fit in very well in Bon Aqua, perhaps because we were different or perhaps because our religion, Methodist at the time, was not the religion of the county, Church of Christ.
At any rate, in short order we moved to the small town of Kingston Springs, Tennessee, in Cheatham County, where we were accepted and loved. BUT we strove to fit in, to not do or say things that were inappropriate to the area and the people. After all, it was their home, and we were only hoping to one day make it ours.
Eventually, too soon, Raf got a job offer he couldn’t refuse, and we returned to my home, Texas. And because he didn’t want to stand out from the crowd, he chose to use his proper name, Ralph, rather than the name he had used for years, Rafael. He was right, too, using an Hispanic name here at that time would not have been good.
Interestingly, I have lived in several small Texas towns, but I had never lived in a village before, and Bon Aqua and Kingston Springs were both villages, perhaps hamlets.
In Kingston Springs the folks knew what was happening more readily than we did. Even when it was happening in our own house.
After church one Sunday we went out to eat with several of the senior citizens. None of these people were under 75 at the time, and as we were driving down the road one of the ladies turned to me and said, “You know, hon, that boy that’s livin’ in your house is smokin’ marijuana, and I’m just ‘fraid he might get too high and burn down your place.”
I sat there with my mouth open. I had no idea our friend, who had needed a place to live and write his music, was smoking dope. About a week later, he let a pan of water boil dry on the stove, and when we came home the house was filled with smoke. We asked him to leave.
While in Kingston Springs, Raf and I were the counselors for the youth group at the Methodist church. During the summer there was a youth camp going on in Chattanooga, and one of the boys decided to attend. I was able to take him, and a young college student was going to pick him up at the end of the week. On Wednesday of that week she came to me in a panic. It seemed she would not be able, because of work, to pick the boy up. She had told no one, not even her parents, and asked me not to tell until she could find someone to pick him up. While she was there, the telephone rang, and the boy’s mother told me she knew his ride would not be able to pick him up and wanted to know what we needed to do. The girl had told no one, and, yet, the mother “knew”.
The culture of Tennessee is very different from Texas where I grew up and live today. Tennessee is much slower and more refined. Not as wild and wooly. And yet, even in Middle Tennessee, which is culturally very different from the East Tennessee mountain area, there is a feeling that the folks know what’s going on, much as the mountain folk seem to do.
I did a little checking on Bucksnort, and, although it doesn’t have a post office any more, it was only there for about ten years in the late 1800’s, there are people there. They are real. There is a culture there. It is real, as well. Most of the folks are in agriculture, and there is a trout farm in the community, as well as a café which serves the area it’s breakfast each morning.
Regarding the town name, Wikipedia tells us: “While some have speculated the community gained its name in relation to the large number of deer in the area, the most often told story about the name dates back to the 1880s, and the owner of a local mercantile named Buck, who sold moonshine on the side. Nearby residents would say they were going to "Bucks to get a snort", hence the name "Bucksnort".”
At the time we lived in Bon Aqua the county was known for its deer and its moonshine. And you didn’t dare drive down unpaved roads if you didn’t want a pickup truck pulling out behind you and staying with you until you got back on some pavement and out of the sight.
There’s a place call Grinder’s Switch in Hickman County, and I’ve seen it…the switch, that is. And there were folks named Grinder who operated the train switching station in the old days. Minnie Pearl, Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, was born in Hickman County in 1912, and she was a real person! She claimed Grinder’s Switch as her hometown. The house she lived in as an adult sits next to the governor’s mansion in Nashville. So that real Hickman County native made much of herself.
The census for Hickman County in 2000 was a little of 20,000, and I don’t believe the government counts unreal people!
So, you folks out there who have moved to a different part of the country, or the world, you need to know, you have to fit in with the people there. They don’t have to fit in with you. It really wasn’t better where you lived before, and even if it was, you don’t tell them about it. You have to learn their language or dialect, to become accustom to their culture. If you don’t, you won’t be happy, you won’t be accepted, and it just won’t be fun for anyone.