Big Dan’s words of wisdom

Published 4:37 am Tuesday, July 26, 2011

With 36 years in this business, all spent at North Carolina-based newspapers, I consider myself an authority on Southern living.

Over the years, I’ve penned columns dealing with life in the south – “purtnear” dealing with everything between barbecue (pork, not a grill) and the three R’s (rasslin, racing and rednecks).

I was digging through some old files this week and ran across some words of wisdom shared back in 2004 by an old friend, Danny Vinson of Knightdale. Danny is the brother of my late brother-in-law, Rock Vinson.

“Big Dan” passed along some pretty funny stuff about living in the south that is worth publishing.  I’m sure ya’ll would love a break from my insane ramblings, so the following is Big Dan’s e-mail entitled – “If you don’t like this you ain’t from ‘round here!”

Tips about the south: If you are going to live or visit in the South you will need a set of these rules:

That farm boy you see at the gas station did more work before breakfast than you do all week at the gym.

It’s called a “gravel road.” No matter how slow you drive, you’re going to get dust on your Navigator. Either drive the road or get out of the way.

We all started hunting and fishing when we were seven years old. Yeah, we saw Bambi. We got over it.

There’s no “Vegetarian Special” on the menu in the South.  Order steak. Order it rare.  Or, you can order the Chef Salad and pick off the two pounds of ham and turkey.

Tea … yeah, we have tea.  It comes in a glass over ice and is sweet. You want it hot…sit it in the sun.  You want it unsweetened … add a lot of water.

So you have a $60,000 car. We’re real impressed. We have a quarter of a million-dollar combine that we only use two weeks a year.

We eat dinner together with our families. We pray before we eat (yeah, even breakfast).  We go to church on Wednesdays and Sundays and we go to high school football games on Friday nights.  We still address our seniors with “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am.”

Greens … yeah, we have greens, but you don’t putt on them. You boil them with salty fatback, bacon or a ham hock.

Yeah, we eat catfish, bass, bream (pronounced brim) and carp. You really want sushi and caviar? It’s available at the bait shop.

They are pigs and, yes, that’s what they smell like. Get over it.

Grits are corn. You put butter, salt, and maybe even some pepper on them. If you want to put milk and sugar on them, then you want Cream of Wheat.

The “Opener” refers to the first day of deer season or dove season.  Both are holidays. You can get pancakes, cane syrup and sausage before daylight at the church on either day.

That Highway Patrol Officer that just pulled you over for driving like an idiot … his name is “Sir,” no matter how young he is.

We have lots of pine trees. They have sap. It drips from them. You park your Navigator under them and they’ll leave a logo on your hood.

For our northern visitors, we don’t have an accent…you do!!

There are three major spectator sports in the South: Football, NASCAR and stormy weather.

In the South we pull the car over when a funeral procession goes by. It’s called showing respect.

If you don’t like any of these items, please be reminded that we have a great highway system here in North Carolina. I-95 runs north and I-40 runs west. Take your pick!

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal