or, “I Wouldn’t Run Over You, Darlin’!”
by Waitsel Smith
I was standing in the street in downtown Lenoir with my sister Linda on a Saturday night, when a gigantic black pickup truck pulled up beside us and got ready to park right where we were standing. As she scurried onto the sidewalk, Linda yelled, “He’s trying to park, get out of the street!”
The guy in the pickup leaned across his seat and called out, in the finest redneck accent I’ve ever heard, “I wouldn’t run over you, darlin’!”
I loved that. I turned to my sister and said, “Now that’s the way people should talk!” I love a good redneck accent. I love rednecks, period. Which is why I love the fact that I just moved back to my hometown of Lenoir, NC, redneck capital of the world, as far as I’m concerned.
I didn’t always feel this way about rednecks. When I was in high school, I was ashamed of my redneck heritage and asked to be sent away to boarding school; but my folks couldn’t afford it. So, I toughed it out.
In college, I took drama and voice (singing) lessons. Later, I lived in several midwest and northern cities. I finally got to the place with my accent that people back home who didn’t know me would ask where I was from. I just had a tiny little twang left that would sometimes come out when I was doing voice-over work.
Then, one day, I realized: rednecks are okay. Not just okay: they’re the heart and soul of this country. Of course, Jeff Foxworthy helped to change our perspective on rednecks, and not always in a good way. But historically, rednecks are pretty cool people.
Rednecks in the South came from Scotland and Ireland (Scots-Irish), and their twang is left over from those two countries’ accents. Bluegrass and country-western music evolved from Scottish and Irish celtic music. Hillbillies are nothing more than Highlanders who live in the mountains of North America. Rednecks come from good stock, have a great heritage and include cowboys, farmers, mountaineers, country singers, race car drivers and a slew of others.
My dad was always proud of being a country boy. I never understood that until recently. Now I want to be a country boy. I’ve lived in cities all across the United States and I’ve lived in the country, and I can tell you the country is better. Country folk are more down-to-earth and more in touch with the things that matter. Country folk aren’t responsible for air pollution, urban sprawl, drug addiction and neighborhood gangs. Most of our problems today were caused by city folk. And for all their restaurants, sporting events, shops and shows, city folk are not happy people. They are constantly struggling to survive and get ahead. Country folk just take life in stride.
My dad wished he had been born in the 1800s. I think what he really wanted was to be a cowboy. I just wish people would get back to what’s important: nature, healthy living, family, friends, community – the simple things that country folk know all too well.
Waitsel Smith, June 11, 2014
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