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Springfield, Missouri, United States
Being Southern is more than where I am from, it is who I am. I love the South with its great beauty and wonderful deep-south traditions. I am Bev Allen, a true Southern Belle;. I am married to the love of my life Rick Allen. We lived and raised our two children, Chris Allen and Teresa Mosley (married to Randy) in the Great Southern states. Family is important and my grandson Lane, our most precious treasure. We love God and people and devoted our lives in His service. This blog is to share a little of what I enjoy and experienced, a little Southern Joy!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Orleans Jazz (Dixieland Music)

Jazz...the sound that put New Orleans on the map, musically speaking!! The Big Easy!  New Orleans jazz has a swinging, stomping, syncopated beat that makes you want to dance! Bands usually consists of horns (cornet, clarinet & trombone) accompany with rhythm (drums, bass & banjo and/or piano). Every night for decades the streets of New Orleans fill the city of Dixieland Jazz.

There are a whole list of Jazz entertainers that have made their marks in history, but the one that first comes to mind is Louis Armstrong (born in New Orleans) is one of Jazz renowned foundational musician. Armstrong developed his cornet seriously playing in a band in New Orleans.

Sounds of Jazz Bands will line the streets in New Orleans during Mardi Gras street parades playing songs like “When the Saints Come Marching In.”  

And you haven’t seen anything yet until you experience a Jazz funeral procession, is like no other. This tradition arises from African spiritual practices, but over the years has gradually started being practiced across ethnic and religious boundaries. 
When a respected fellow musician or prominent member of the community dies, the organizers of the funeral will arrange for hiring a band as part of the services. A typical jazz funeral begins with a march by the family, friends, and a jazz band from the home, funeral home or church to the cemetery.

Right now my favorite Jazz singer is 2010 America Got Talent Winner, Michael Grimm.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Getting That Big Buck!

In the South many men and boys take part in a great activity during the fall and winter months by deer hunting, in hopes of getting THAT BIG BUCK!  This sport makes a great bonding experience for a father and son and/or daughter. They will take great pains in planning and gathering together their guns, orange vests, large knives, and all gear that they will need to enter the deep woods of many of our Southern States. Although deer hunting is done all over the world, the best places is in the southern states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. They will strap on their gear, grab those rifles and enter the wood waiting for a great white tail deer to step into view, it gets their adrenaline going. The anticipation that comes from waiting for that perfect shot can so exciting. It takes great discipline to be a skilled hunter.

You ask me how do I know about this, well, my Dad was one of those great hunters.  Just as soon as the leaves would start changing colors and the cool Fall weather settled in…..off to the woods. It was my Dad who took his nephews out for their first deer hunt. And when I was old enough to hold a shotgun, yes, girl or not…..I was with him. We would get up early before the sun would come up and be walking in woods where he had previously in the year, saw that big buck. My Dad, carrying a German rife with a scope that would seem…..like you could see forever… and me with my trusty Browning Sweet 16 shotgun would for hours walk and absolutely NO talking.  When I think about it….I had to be right on a deer to hit one.  I enjoyed those special bonding times I had with him. Those memories I would not trade for anything. It wasn't that we just loved deer meat, it was the trill of the hunt. The art of sneaking up on a 12 point (points of the antlers) and knowing you had him. We didn't always bring one home but the hours we spent together without saying a word were priceless.

There are two ways to hunt deer. Many build what is called deer stands where they wait patiently for the deer to come into view. But not my Dad, he was a walker. That is you walk until you saw one. There is an art to “stalking deer hunting”, with a wrong step a hunt can be over. A large crack of a misstep on a stick or the loud crunch of a pile of dry leaves and a hunter's position can be given away to his quarry. Many whitetail deer have been known to run off INSTANTLY.

Deer hunting is such a bit thing, that public school districts in the South will declare the first day of opening season a FREE day. It's Fall now, so happy hunting!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cotton Pickin'

More than many occasions, friends have busted into laughter with my general slang term....cotton-pickin". You might ask, what in the world does that mean?  It is a term used among many Southern as something is troublesome or disapproval. This usually occurs when I am driving, "that cotton-pickin driver" or trying to open a jar, "I wish that cotton-pickin' jar would open." You can see how this might amuse someone from another region of the country. But I really do know about cotton-pickin'. 

Pickin' Cotton is hard work. Cotton still remains to be a key crop in Southern economy. If you travel in the Southern Delta states during late summer, you would be amazed at first glance what looks like a blanket of snow.  Actually it would be rows and rows of cotton ready to be pick and taken to the cotton gin for processing. Now cotton picking is done with huge machinery, that speed time and efficiency.  But I can still remember workers lining the fields to pick these puffy cotton boils. This job once done by black slaves in early American history, but evolved into what we Southern called "sharecropping" in which black farmers and landless white farmers worked the huge Southern Cotton plantations. Cotton plantations required a vast labor force to hand-pick cotton. 

Now to pick cotton you must have a cotton strap around your shoulder and it need to be at least 20 feet long. You process in in a bent over posture to pluck the cotton that has blossomed out, as many a each hand can carry, and you toss it into the cotton sack. You have to wear gloves so that the dried bristles off the plant do not cut your fingers and wrists. If you are good at it, you could pick up to 500 pounds of cotton in a twelve-hour workday, from sun-up to sun down, taking off only an hour for a big lunch. You then load these huge sacks onto a wagon that would take it to the gin to be processed. 

My family was one such family. My grandparents were sharecroppers in the Arkansas Delta. They would work a land in a certain area in the day and build and have church at night.  I remember listening to my grandmother tell stories how my dad as a kid with his cousins pickin' cotton, and also getting into trouble because they would get bored. Many of hard working fathers and mothers with children would move slowly down these cotton rows, spending long hours to earn a small living. But for the most part, happy and content for this was their way of life. 
When I was was 5 years old, my parents bought a farm on the river-bed land of the Arkansas River. Our house for many years sat right in the middle of cotton fields. I still in my heart see those rows and rows of cotton. 

O, I wish I was in the land of cotton
Old times there are not forgotten
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
(lyrics, Dixie Land)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Southern Drawl'

You only have to be around me a few minutes to know I am from the South. Usually the first question I person will ask me is, not my name but “Where are you from?” I have a distinguishing accent, known as a Southern Drawl.  It is evident that a historic difference between the North and South is speech.  It is a regional dialect, stronger in some Southern states like Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, & Louisiana & Tennessee. Two words are a dead give away, “y’all” and “fixin’ to” which is probably part of my daily communication.
Two well recognized women, Paula Deen & Dolly Parton (which are some of my favorites) also have strong Southern accents.  A few years back, a very popular TV series, Designing Women were very charming Southern Ladies, my favorite being Ms. Julia Sugarbaker. You ask, what is a drawl? It is an accent of speech characterized by slow speech, with prolonged vowels. For me, it is adding more syllables to a word.  Like …(even that word, which is one syllable, becomes…L…I…Ke…)  I can’t help it….that’s me. Just because you may have a strong Southern drawl, doesn’t mean you are less educated which many times have been mistakenly taken. There are many great educators, doctors and many others of profound vocations with Southern drawls. It is just a form of speech. So, to round out this little thought, I will simple say, “Hope you enjoyed, Ya’ll come back now!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Georgia Peaches

In the South when you think of Georgia, the first thing that comes to mind is…..Georgia Peaches. This delicious sweet fruit has a yellow and orange fuzzy skin and a sweet delicate inside meat that holds a single, large seed, making it known as a stone fruit. As a kid my dad planted free-stone peaches this simply meant when you open the peaches up the stone or pit pulled easily away from the fruit of the peach. Georgia has over 40 varieties of peaches. Last year this state produced over 85 million pounds of peaches. There is absolutely no way to describe the feeling you get when after you pick peaches all day sitting down and griping one of those beauties, busting it open, still warm from the sun and eating it right there in the orchard. Letting the sweet juices run down the side of mouth and down your arms as you bite into it.

There are so many ways to indulge in these Georgia peaches. peach ice cream, fried peach pies, peach pastries, peaches topped with a heavy cream, and my favorite peach cobbler. Just for you…..I am posting a quick and easy peach cobbler recipe you just can’t resist.
2 cups sliced fresh Georgia peaches
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 stick of butter
½ tsp vanilla
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together  slowly with a beater: 1 cup self- rising flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk and vanilla  in a mixing bowl.
Pour batter mixture in a floured or spray coated deep bakeware and top with fresh peaches ( I use a large can of Georgia slice peaches). Bake 45 to 50 minutes in the pre-heated oven until golden brown. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream….it an totally awesome treat.