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Posted: November 27, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Pecan Pie for the Mind: The decline of Southern civilization

Our civilization here in the South is dying on the vine. I'm quite sure of it. Look around and see if you don't agree with my assessment of the sorry state of society. It's just gotten pitiful, and I want some answers: Where are our next quilts coming from, why can't we fix our own cars anymore, and how come our kids can't make a living collecting pop bottles by the side of the road? Tell me how we can ever be the same without these joys of southern life.

We have six or seven homemade quilts in our house right now. My two grandmothers were quilters, and their creations keep us warm at night. One quilt, which I don't use as much as admire, was made from an old 50 pound flour sack. Other quilts were made from scraps left over from dress making. That's another thing. Why don't we make our own clothes anymore? It's just not Southern to not know how to sew. Which one of us will own the last homemade quilt?

Car owners have lost out too. Once, we could take an engine out of a car, install new pistons, and be back up and running in a weekend. Oil and sparkplugs were so easy to change, we would do it just for fun. Now you can't even figure out how to open the car hood. Once you do open the hood, all you see is a plastic cover hiding all the mysterious parts that you aren't supposed to touch.

All this is pretty bad, but the worst of all is the demise of roadside revenue. As a kid, I could fund an entire week's worth of candy and baseball cards by collecting and returning discarded pop bottles for a few cents apiece. We had a great relationship between thirsty driver and enterprising youth. You drink, you toss, we collect, we cash. It was once a thing of beauty, but no longer.

How can we maintain our civilization if we can't change our own spark plugs, our kids can't dig spending money out of the weeds, and no one has any new quilts? Well, I'm still going to be thankful on this fine day. I've got my quilts, my old car repair magazines, and a few empty Coke bottles. It may be the end of an era, but I'm going out in style. Happy Thanksgiving!

David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers, can be reached at davmccoy@bellsouth.net.


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