A drive south

I didn’t take any photographs at the farm this year, but I’ve included a few from last year in this post.

My granddaughter Joy took many photos with the camera I gave her sister a few years ago. I like the camera I gave Hannah, so when I got home I ordered a new camera for me…the extent of my shopping on Black Friday. And, I did it online via Amazon. The photos in this post are from my old camera.

The most important thing to understand about Virginia is that it is an old state, settled over 400 years ago by Europeans and immediately following the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 (hence its name….for the Virgin Queen).

Whatever beauty existed in the lowlands after growing tobacco for 200 years was smashed during the Civil War, although the mountain areas were refurbished in the twentieth century through various government programs like the CCC and TVA. The Appalachian Regional Commission set up in the 1960s pumped much money into local enterprise.  Today, the shocking thing about the drive south is the farmland turned into housing developments.


The drive to Connie’s farm gets harder every year, and we pass through much “built up area” on the way which means you either take the Interstate highways or endure miles of traffic lights and local traffic. We got an early start, leaving the house by six AM on Thanksgiving morning, so the drive down was relatively peaceful. We made fewer stops this time as our old dog was no longer with us and the young dogs require many fewer stops. 

Civil War battlefields provide the only green spaces before you get out of the Washington metro area and its outer suburbs. And, there are many battlefields as most of the battles of the Civil War were fought in the northern part of Virginia.

I grew up in the devastated south, and like many was happy to see the South rise again, thanks to industrial development.  When I first saw Virginia a mere 60 or so years ago, it still lay in ruins from the Civil War.

There was no Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of the south following the Civil War, and the wreckage from the tragic war left many folks bitter for a long time. The extreme poverty after the war helps explain Jim Crow. I worked with a Black woman a few years back who told me when she was growing up in the South she thought only Blacks were hungry she hated the whites for it when she was a child.  She told me when she got older, she realized whites were suffering too.

While the North suffered a Depression from the crash of 1929 until WWII, the South suffered a Depression that lasted from Appomatox Court House until the military buildup for WWII and the Cold War pumped billions of dollars into the southern economy. 

Unfortunately, until the economic conditions changed, it was easy for Blacks to blame Whites for their poverty and vice versa. Today, the great fear among many Southerners dependent on jobs tied to the military is that budget cuts to defense spending will affect the South disproportionately.  


Katie, one of Joy’s classmates, as well as Joy’s boyfriend Joshua, joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. At one point, someone referred to a red neck, and Katie told us that was a rude expression.  She said, “Country boy” was the correct expression when referring to a rural lad. Folks in the remaining rural areas often refer to themselves as country folk and they hate it when Yankees call them rednecks. They might be ignorant at times and afraid of change owing to their ignorance, but they deserve the same respect shown to city folk who can also be downright ignorant at times.


Because I grew up in the rural South, I acquired many terms and phrases peculiar to rural folk.  The use of the word folk is one of them. Folk is an interesting word coming from the old Anglo-Saxon word volk.  Upscale people prefer the use of the word people, from the Greek word for citizen of a city-state or polis.

As a Demographer, I like the word demos which is the root of the word for demonstrate….what city folk do.  Notice that rural folks must come to cities to demonstrate, like the year farmers protested cuts to the farm bill by driving tractors to Washington and plowing up the Mall…which has never fully recovered.

And speaking of farm bills, how many know that about 80% of the Agricultural subsidies are for food stamps? Folk must eat after all.  







13 thoughts on “A drive south

  1. My great-grandmother was born just at the end of the Civil War so my grandmother was full of stories and bitterness handed down from her Mother, she often said the South survived on grits and greens and if you were lucky alittle hog. The worst insult according to my grandmother was to be called “White Trash”. In my child’s mind’s eye I pictured trash that was all colored white.


  2. Informative discussion about the South. If our government folks are smart (that would be a lot to ask) they will go slow about cutting military expenditures. Reductions are desirable in the long run, but great economic damage can be done by abrupt changes. Some wizard once said . .. “moderation in all things.” That sort of wisdom should apply to tax increases and budget cuts. Phasing painful change in is the trick. We can only hope.


  3. You have so much knowledge, Dianne. Thank you for sharing it. You would think most people are well aware that calling someone a ‘redneck’ is not a nice thing. Then again I remember someone telling me that they knew one reason I was probably hired was because… at which point she pulled the sides of her eyes up. I was really shocked. She thought she was being funny. She thought she was my friend.


  4. This was interesting and informative. I am from the Deep South and the families of both my parents were subsistence farmers who worked hard to keep hunger at bay. Gardening, “putting up vegetables,” butchering and smoking the hog they raised that year, hunting and fishing and sharing produce among neighbors was an important part of life. And siblings helped siblings and extended family as sickness or widowhood arose. Help might be lodging, meals, clothing, and education in both families, rarely cash cause there was little of that.


  5. Interesting … never thought about how the North suffered the Depression, but “the South suffered a Depression that lasted from Appomatox Court House until the military buildup for WWII.” And so I promise, I’ll never say “Redneck” again.

    Blogging question: I lost the “Recent Comments” section on my site. Now I can’t get it back. Do you know if anything is going on with blogger regarding this? Thx!


  6. You are a fountain of good information! I know next to nothing about the South, except that my Japanese-American teacher was permitted to sit up front on the bus while her deeply tanned Japanese-American husband (a football coach) was told to sit in the back. Sheesh. My youngest sister seems to enjoy her townhouse in Virginia. She said she could never afford something similar in Hawaii.


    • Depending on where you live in the metro area the housing is more or less expensive…just like Hawaii.

      Our school photographer was of Asian descent, but I have no idea beyond that. It never came up in conversation. As for the color line, that was more of a problem whereas ethnicity was dependent on where you stood in WWII.


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