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Southern Raisin': Don't get too uppity

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We have heard our parents tell us many times, “I want to make sure that you young’uns don’t have it as rough growing up as me and your Mammy.”  

“Yes suhhh, we want you to have it a lot better than we did.”  

“Get you a good education, a good job, and not slave like we did.”  

Sounds good!  

“Always remember where you came from when ya’ tryin’ to get where ya’ goin’.”

But as soon as you get a little money, a newer car and a down payment on a fairly nice house, it all flies apart. The noted philosophers still sittin’ on the front of Mr. Ben’s store taking all this in with their comments.  “I might have known, the boy is trying to get above his raisin’.”  

You can’t win.  Makes you feel guilty about spending money or having too much.  Plumb out of place like a tuxedo on a Duroc sow.

Our parents had corns on their feet, calluses on their hands and a sore aching back from hard work.  Not much fun, but I wonder if it will make you appreciate an easier life? We will never, ever know the wisdom our brilliant forefathers had stored in their noggin.

Study on it.  Money, a good job and influential friends will never make a man.  His upbringing, moral standards and accomplishments are yo’ measuring sticks.

We were reminded from time to time by our parents with, “We don’t want you in wars, depressions or soup lines.”  Our parents didn’t worry about five o’clock traffic, road rage, car jacking, eating out of a plastic plate while using plastic-wrapped forks.  Why?  Plastic hadn’t been invented!  Now at fancy restaurants employees mop under yo’ feet with ammonia burning your nose as you try to eat. There were no recorded messages; we didn’t have a phone anyway.  Don’t forget, fillin’ stations pumped yo’ gas, checked the oil, aired yo’ tires and wiped the windshield.  Self service actually means “no service.” 

Parents didn’t have to worry about liberation, moral majority, right movements, missiles, fiber optic or bottled drinking water.  Today boys dress and act like girls, girls dress and act like boys. Where does that put Boy George?  Don’t you know his Momma and Daddy are real proud of him?

See, I was raised in the old world and live in a new one. Back then, women cooked, washed clothes, cleaned house, sewed and raised a family.  Today women wear coats and ties and Sister Gloria is still pounding the podium.  Maybe all this is fine, but I’m confused.  Am I a misfit in today’s society?  Looks like it.

No matter what you accumulate in your lifetime, I believe there are some things you should do to never get above yo’ raisin’.  

Few ’zamples: Bow your head during prayer, salute the flag, say grace at yo’ meals, pull over when the black hearse comes by out of respect. The next one coming down the road might have you in it.  Open the door for the ladies; believe it or not, some might still appreciate it.  Respect ‘yore’ elders.  Don’t forget if you live long enough you will be a senior citizen some day.  That other alternative is not too attractive.  At least, not just yet. Sometimes folks get educated above their capacity and they just wander around lost kicking dirt clods.

Come to think about it, Nash Ramblers and Studebakers weren’t too pretty, but it sho’ was better than hoofing.  Love thy neighbor, and a stranger is a friend that you haven’t met.  Even the boys that have all the toys will be like Hank when he sang, “No matter how I struggle and strive, I’ll never get out of this world alive”

I love my God.  I love my country.  I love the Great South.  When things get real bad, just go back and think about your “roots.”  Where you came from and where you’re going.  Elvis sang the hymns, but the preacha’ will bring the message.  Please don’t forget yo’ blessed southern redneck heritage ... Glory ... Southern Raisin’.

Otis Griffin is the author of the book “Southern Raisin”. He was born in  Charleston, Tenn., and attended Rosemark Grammar School and Bolton High School.

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