CULTURE..the customs, social institutions, and achievements of a particular people

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 cafĂ© 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.

Comments

Just Mom said…
I really enjoyed reading this.

I've moved several times since college, and I've always managed to find something great about our new home.

You're absolutely right when you say, "It really wasn’t better where you lived before, and even if it was, you don’t tell them about it."
Pam Aries said…
Gal.. I grew up in West Virginia! I went to grade school at"Jumping Branch ".. Named because there was a BIG CREEK there with a huge fallen Branch ...etc! I am talking the STICKS, baby! HEE HEE! Anyone who drinks PINK wine from a plastic glass has her own set of problems! HEE HAW! Where is Fannie Flagg when we need her???
I just wanted to stop by and say a very HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY WISH FOR YOU. connie from Texas
Autumn said…
I lived in Knoxville for almost 7 years and never did find a "niche". I suppose it was to many years in a military town. No matter how hard I tired I was always an "outsider" When people would ask me "where are you from" I would tell them Knoxville/Maryville,and they would look at me llke I had two heads and say Where are you REALLY from, to which I would reply Virginia Beach....They then looked at me as if the third head grew and said..Oh well that isn't the south..I would never argue, but quietly thought to myself that I was "southern". After all Richmond was the capital of the confederacy, and the last time I look I grew up South of there..
I know what you mean though about having to adjust to where you live. Most places have people that are set in there ways (as I learned those years in TN). I was glad to get back to VA, but have had lots of people tell me that they don't like it here because they don't feel like the people are friendly. I suppose like anything it is just what you get use to.
(PS...I love the area there, it is beautiful and I would love to go back and visit someday)
Anonymous said…
I am a native Hickmanite, having grown up in the county seat of Centerville. After several years living in Nashville, I moved back to the East Hickman area. The villages of Bon Aqua, Lyles and Wrigley kind of run together to comprise East Hickman... which I refer to as a "state of mind."

I am also a Methodist, but I elect to make the 40 mile drive into Nashville to be part of a congregation that is a good fit for me.

Anyway, thank you for "getting it"! There are lots of folks in this area that don't have many material "belongings", but they are very rich in other ways (family, community, nature, etc.). Most folks from other parts of the country (or state) just don't understand or appreciate that there can be more to life than material wealth, and that happiness and contentment comes in many forms.

I have alway had a special appreciation for people that move into this area and "fit in". I know it can't be easy. I am sorry our paths never crossed while you were a neighbor!

Tom
PEA said…
Such a wonderful post and I agree with you, when you move into a new town/village/city/country, you are the one who needs to adopt their way of life, not the other way around! xox
Morning Glory said…
How right you are!! This was delightful to read and I so totally agree with you about moving to a new place and learning to fit in.

Have a wonderful Mother's Day!
Tinker said…
People can be so rude without thinking...

Hope you have a happy Mother's Day, Sioux!
Terry said…
Dear Sioux.. I can't stay along but i just wanted to tell you that Felisol's father was taken to the hospital in a coma..Could you pray for him and the whole family?...Love Terry
Susie Q said…
Wonderful post Sioux! We have lived on the West and East coasts, in 4 places around the Gulf Coast, in TN, upstate NY, Texas, near St. Louis...well, all you say is so correct! : )
My Dad was born and raised in Jefferson County, TN. I have loads of relatives there. Aftre retiring, my folks moved back to TN, Crossville. They lived there for 27 years. My Dad has passed away and Mom just recently moved back here to Ohio.
I KNOW about Bucksnort and Grinders Switch and so many other interesting places and place names. And oh how I have seen so many of the folks like the lady you talked about! LOVED the sory about the haugty woman and the Southerner!

Glad you are home safely!
It was a grand trip!

Hugs,
Sue
Dawn said…
Very well said! I have lived all over, being a pastor's daughter. There have been 2 places we didn't fit in, but we made the best of it.

I hope you had a marvelous Mother's Day!
"Early Bird" said…
What a hoot!!
The last place I lived before I moved to Ohio was Hickman County Kentucky...
I'm also a very big Minnie Pearl fan...she was actually kin to me while my mother was married to my first step daddy...she was his cousin...I never met her though I would have loved it!
You are right about fitting in to the region where you live. I find it hard to do at times but after 2 and a half years it is starting to come some easier.
I have always liked this little Ohio town since the day I moved hear...I'm learning to play up my Southern accent and ways as that seems to amuse people here...teehee!!
:)
judie said…
How cute...Bucksnort! Snort... There are some really odd names in Pennsylvania, too...like Blue Balls, Intercourse...etc. I guess there are odd names everywhere.

I'm a little concerned about Pammie. Drinking pink wine from a plastic cup...now what's up with that! LOL

Glad you are home safe.
Kelli said…
Hi Sioux! I'm coming by to answer your question about my tomato plant. I haven't done anything special with it yet. When I bought it, there were already several tomatoes on it. I'm thinking I should add a little fertilizer this week!

Kelli