Learning To Speak Southern

When I first moved to the South I couldn’t understand a lot of what was being said in any conversation. Southern folks, I discovered, have a language all their own. As I talked about my difficulty a close friend handed me a paperback book titled, “How To Speak Southern”. It was a type of dictionary that translated what I was hearing into English I could understand. A “drill motor” translated an electric drill, a “hose pipe” became a garden hose” and a “pulley bone” turned out to be the wishbone in a chicken or turkey. It took a good six months to pick up the local jargon. I had help in the form of my best friend, Marion Malcom.

Marion is 100% Southern, a good old boy who doesn’t know how to speak any other language. I spent Wednesday with Marion doing his favorite thing, eating. He picked me up for lunch at The Red Shed in Graniteville, SC, a town I know well as I worked there for 13 years. I also lived in Graniteville less than a quarter of a mile from The Red Shed. We met up with his newlywed wife, Mae, who had arrived earlier and gotten us a table. I had a second surprise when a short little lady who turned out to be Vicky, my waitress at the now defunct Hard Hat Cafe, my hangout for years. “Two eggs over easy, bacon with toast uncut”. Vicky heard that at least 6 days a week for years as I don’t change my favorite food often. Vicky and I posed for a picture that can be seen below.

I ordered a BLT with chips and an unsweetened ice tea. You must specify unsweetened because in the South “Sweet Tea” is the default drink of choice. Notice the Styrofoam cup of tea below. It’s marked unsweetened in Southern vernacular. LOL I finished off my lunch with a special dessert, buttermilk pie. I had never eaten this local delicacy before yesterday. It was incredible.

After lunch I was given the grand tour of the long closed textile mills where I used to work. Marion and I roamed the abandoned halls of the maintenance building that used to be my base of operations in the Instrument Shop. It was creepy stumbling around the gutted building, with just a flashlight for light. Textiles in the South is dead, just as the New England textile industry died before the South took over 100 years or more ago.

Later that evening Marion picked me up a second time to go to his church where a dinner and bible study were being held. I’d been to this church once before many years ago. It is huge compared to most in the area. I enjoyed the conversations as Marion introduced me as “The Yankee from Boston”. That started some interesting conversations.

So here are a few of the pictures I took during a wonderful day with my good friend, Marion.

“Ain’t” translated to Ain’t got no sugar”! LOL


Vicky & Bob – Vicky was our waitress and an old friend.


Marion chatting with and old friend.


Marion, Mae & Bob


A Southern Cottage 🙂



9 thoughts on “Learning To Speak Southern

    • Today is my last day here. Just had a request from a photography teacher in college to speak to her class Monday. Had to turn her down because I leave Friday morning early. You snooze you lose.

    • I am home safe and sound. I drove the 1100 mile return trip hetting just 4 hours rest at a dump of a motel last night. I was anxious to return, arriving Saturday morning at 2:00 a.m. to a light drizzling rain locally. I grabbed my 3 bags to bring them inside so they wouldn’t mold from the moisture in the car. All is well.

  1. So happy you are home safe and sound. I am up in the lake regions of NH visiting my sister. We try to get together once a year….nice to have a sister isn’t it!

    • Indeed it is nice to have a sister. I actually have another sister and a younger brother. Neither of them talk to me or my sister Barb. We’re the black sheep of the family.

      I had a wonderful visit that ended too soon. I had to run away to get home or Barb would have me working hard on her deteriorating house. Steve, her new husband, hopes to join Barb permanently by Christmas. He can take over the chores. Barb comes across as so helpless but she’s just over committed to too many people. She raised her grandchildren who are very nice young adults. Barb paid for everything. Their deadbeat mother didn’t even try to get a job for the first 8 years of her kid’s lives. She just mooched off her parents. That explains the two mortgages Joe left Barb when he suddenly died. It’s quite a sad story overall but my sister has a strong personality and will to live. – Bob

  2. Your sister sounds like a remarkable, strong woman….glad she had out here for a week to help her out. Now rest a little, Bob and enjoy the beautiful new England fall weather!

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