PlannerDan's Blog


Near Fort Worth, Texas, USA
September 22
Much of the same stuff applies. I'm a married guy--quite married, in fact. We are pushing our 44th year of bliss. In fact I am a grandpa; and wear that title proudly. Over the years I've learned a few things. And tend to share it--tactfully, I hope. I'm a professional, which only means I went to school and got all the degrees. It took years to do it, and has added a little to that experience thing. I'm fortunate to be doing something I love for a living. But, even then, the work place can become boring. However, those times are few and far between. I have two passions in life. I love to write. Sometimes I do that very well, sometimes not so much. But, I've realized you don't have to be good to write; you've just got to really want to. My second passion is my dog. I am a dog person. I'll try not to get mushy and obsessive about it. Pet owners can sometimes do that. I will write about my black Lab, Max; however, I promise to be restrained. I know how those crazy pet people are. Other than that, you will find out more about me from my entries. They likely will be sporadic, because I obviously have a life outside this virtual universe. But, I will try the best I can to make a worthy contribution to the site. Can't ask for more than that.


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AUGUST 18, 2011 10:17AM

Where the Hell is Dixie?

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          Just where the hell is Dixie? Well, it depends on who you ask. There are some folks who contend that Dixie represents the land area located south of the Mason-Dixon Line, which is the boundary line between the States of Pennsylvania and Maryland. The states north of that line were the ‘free’ states and those south were designated the ‘slave’ states. However, the Mason Dixon line did not extend further west than the State of Pennsylvania, and there is much more of Dixie than that. So it is obvious the boundaries of Dixie were somewhat loosely defined. In fact, different folks include different states in the body of Dixie.

         An interesting take on the origin of the term Dixie takes its source in the depths of Louisiana. Around the era of the Civil War, banks in Louisiana issued currency in ten dollar notes. These notes had the word ‘Dix’ printed on the back of the note, which is the French word for ‘ten.’ ‘Dixies’ were circulated widely in and around New Orleans, where the area became known as ‘Dixieland.’ It is believed by some, not including yours truly, the usage broadened its boundaries to include most of the Southern States.

         Regardless of what you accept as the origin of the term, Dixie became synonymous with the South. The most general understanding of the geographic location includes the states which seceded from the Union, forming the Confederate States of America. Those states included, in order of secession, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Some will include Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma (Indian Territory) as part of the South; however that is subject of vigorous debate.

         Regardless of who comprises the membership of the Southern States, Dixie represents something much more than a geographical boundary. There is a Spirit of Dixie. Those who were born in the South will always have that feeling of uniqueness. And, although the South once firmly embraced the vile and unjust practice of slavery, southerners of every shade wholeheartedly unite in the condemnation of that practice today. Unfortunately, we are left with the stigma of the sins of our fathers, regardless of the separation from that era which time has provided. Let me be clear and affirm there is no moral way that I or anyone else can rightfully justify or defend the position Dixie took regarding human rights. Many would say that slavery was never the central issue in the War Between the States; they would say the issue was States Rights. Perhaps that is so; however, one can never, ever separate the core foundation of the practice of slavery from the equation. Needless to say, a war was waged as a result of the South’s position; and Dixie lost.

         However, to me Dixie is a state of mind; it is a way of life, a something which permeates the soul. It is much like the draw of the sea to the seaman or the call of the wild to the outdoorsman. You can’t hold Dixie in your hand, but yet you can touch it, taste it, smell it, and hear it. On early mornings, as the Sun creeps over the horizon, I stand by the lake in our subdivision. I smell the freshness of the morning, hear the critters in the forest, and when I bend and clutch a fistful of soil I can feel the heartbeat of Texas, which is inseparable with Dixie. At the restaurant, I see eggs, bacon, sausage and grits on the breakfast menu. I order the grits and find they are prepared Southern style. Folks from the north don’t know how to eat grits. I’ve seen them put sugar and milk on them and eat them like oatmeal. What a waste of a good plate of grits. Nope, down here in the South, we cook ‘em to the consistency of mashed potatoes, put a little butter on them, salt them, and maybe sprinkle some bacon on them; some folks mix in their eggs.

         Down here in Dixie, pick-up trucks outnumber cars. That’s the way it ought to be. A fella never knows when he’s gonna need to haul something. And, yes, some of us hang our shotguns on the racks in the back window. Although, you don’t see that as much in the big cities as you do in the country. We take great pride in our pick-ups…and our dogs. You never want to kick my dog. You might as well kick my mother; because you’re gonna get the very same reaction from me. He may not be much to look at; he’ll never win some Westminster prize. But, he’s my dog and he’s family. Likewise, don’t walk up too fast to me and grab my hand; Max doesn’t like that. He can’t tell the difference in a vigorous greeting and an assault.

          When you’re born in Dixie it just becomes part of you. I suppose it’s like that in any other part of the country. I’ve heard folks say the same thing about Alaska, California, and New York. I guess the place you are raised in becomes imprinted on you. To me Dixie is where home is. But, it’s more than that. It’s a spirit colored by generations of hard working people, who lived off the earth and loved the land. It’s the shared history of past glories and trials. Some of Dixie is very ugly, some is quite attractive, and a bunch of it is just hard to explain. Dixie may be a place on the map to some people, but to those who are a product of Dixie, I suspect it’s with them all the time. We take Dixie with us. It’s a part of the way we speak, the way we act. It influences our outlook on life. So, if you want to know where Dixie is, well, it’s me. And, it’s every other man, woman, and child who comes from the South. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I know it when I see it.

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Elvis sang it well....anyone remember?
As Hank Williams Jr. sang, "If heaven ain't a lot like Dixie, I don't want to go."
As usual Dan, you put it very well indeed. There was a show about Dixie on the History channel last night which I recorded but haven't watched yet. I think I will do that this morning.
The difference in the grits selection at a southern Winn Dixie and any store north of Shreveport is remarkable. Around here, maybe 2 brands and 2 styles of grits compared to a shelf-load of more than I could name down South. In that aspect, you can judge what is or isn't Dixie just by doing some grocery shopping.
One thing that's very notable about Dixie is the strong sense of place felt by its sons and daughters. While slavery and segregation were certainly horrific, there is something to be said for that being rooted. And I would definitely count Maryland in Dixie some decades ago. Not sure if it still applies, though. (But, then Florida and the northern half of Virginia are a bit iffy, too.)

Never lived in Dixie (except non-Dixie-ish Florida) but do love me my grits, your way.