EVERY TIME I HEAD NORTH of the Mason Dixon for a reading and book signing, I’m always tickled at how non-Southern folk look at Southern folk like we’re a great curiosity—they get that eyebrow raised-wonder, like the first time you ever saw a horned toad.
Or first time you slowed down as you drove by The Snake Farm—and said, “What the hell?” And the answer is yes, your eyes do not deceive you, you have just driven your happy ass past a lovely little New Braunfels attraction that features, what else, pits and pits of deadly, poisonous snakes. And some other stuff that will sting, bite and otherwise rip your head off–all yours for the viewing for the paltry price of admission.
But here’s the thing–or as we like to say, The Thang–we know we’re a couple beads off bubble, and that’s okay with us—in fact, we take great pride in what other folks think is oddity—I hear up North they lock their crazy people in the attic—in the South, we prop them up on the sofa and invite the neighbors over for iced tea.
My daddy, Colonel Stephen T. Frazier traveled the world, but like most Southerners abroad, always had roots stuck deep in the fertile, red Delta dirt of the South, and Texas in particular. Every time we’d hear a terrific sayin, we’d call each other to share—I recently heard one from my new friend Tona Simnacher—She’s the meanest thing to shit between red high heels . . . and I thought, “Ah! I gotta call The Colonel!”
The Colonel shared a deep and abiding love of all things Southern, particularly Southern Literature, and we would spend long evenings on the porch pouring over the classic works of William Faulkner and Harper Lee and the newer kids on the block, like Larry McMurtry and Pat Conroy.
It’s not just grits and red-eye gravy that feed Southern eloquence—it’s the wet heat of summer that presses heavily on already fanciful minds.
Southern sayings are as colorful as the towns that bore them, from Possum Trot Kentucky to Hoot and Holler Texas, from Licklog Georgia to Turkey Scratch Arkansas.
After The Colonel died, I was going through his papers and came across a file he’d kept of some or our favorite sayings and traditions.
The Colonel always harbored the hope he’d make it back to Texas.
And he did.
He’s buried in the Houston National Veteran’s Cemetery.
And no matter where he lived, he walked, talked and lived like the Texan he was.
And I miss his baritone Southern drawl every day.
And this one’s for my Mama . . . who always says, “Well, bless your little pea-pickin heart!”
And means it.