Last week, I described what I’d "change" about the South. This week, I’ll list those things we should never change. You might have balked at my suggestion that dogs should wear clothes, but I’ll bet you’ll agree with me that town squares, boiled peanuts, and refined manners are rich blessings of the southern life.
The South wouldn’t be what it is without our quaint town squares. For decades, I’ve been a fan of little shops, drugstores, cafes, and old courthouses — those little enclaves that reset the clock by about 70 years. Some of my best memories come from days spent in discovery of a new, old city. Think of Conyers, Covington, Madison, Jackson, McDonough, and Marietta. Patronize your town square if you have one. If you don’t have one, get in the car and go for a drive in the country. I’m sure there’s an old courthouse nearby. Don’t worry if it’s not really a "square" town square. Ignore the geometry and just go exploring. You might even find a drugstore with a soda fountain if you’re lucky.
Boiled peanuts may not be unique to the South, but they sure are something we can’t do without. I remember driving in the backwoods of Rockdale County back in the late 1980s – when we had backwoods — and stumbling on a ramshackle little stand selling boiled peanuts. They were fantastic, those steaming little treats. That little stand is long gone, but I’ve found several new boiled peanut suppliers since then. Thank goodness, one of them is just down the street from my house. There’s something reassuring about seeing a big wad of steaming peanuts being scooped out of a big bubbling kettle.
The South is a polite place, most of the time. Those mythological creatures — the Southern Gentleman and the Southern Lady — are still around. We pull our cars over to the side of the road when a funeral procession goes by, we send "thank you" letters, and we still say "ma’am" and "sir." We’ll hold the door open for you, and we’ll try to act as nice and civilized as we can. We’ll even share our freshly boiled peanuts if you see us out on the town square. I hope these things about the South never change. As for unclothed dogs roaming the streets, I’m still hoping for a much needed change there.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers, can be reached at email@example.com.