Why do Southerners act the way they do, talk the way they do, treat hikers SO KINDLY - and do things so slowly? Perhaps not even the most learned scholars of Southern culture can answer these questions with certainty , but the fact remains that Southerners are known for their hospitable treatment of visitors and friends, their slow pace of life, their manner of talking, and their delicious style of cooking. Although few can explain the Southern hospitality phenomena, few would deny its existence. It is common in areas such as HIawassee, Georgia (location of the Top of Georgia Hiking Center) to hear a visitor from another state or country remark that Southern hospitality is truly alive and well today.
For example, after the 1996 Olympic Games were held in Atlanta, Georgia, even after media reports of traffic congestion and scheduling problems, visitors to Atlanta could be overheard marveling at hospitable acts from Native Georgians rather than complaining about the crowds or the heat. One man was overheard recounting the tale of an Atlanta resident loaning his cellular phone to someone in the crowded desperate need to contact the rest of his party. Another was heard boasting of a young woman allowing a family with small children to board the already crowded MARTA( Atlanta mass transit) train ahead of her. Although these examples of Southern hospitality boast a modern age twist of mobile phones and mass transit systems, Southern hospitality is not a myth perpetrated by the Hollywood version of life in the South- it is a reality and a way of life for most Southerners.
Some speculate that this way of life (and it is a way of life, not merely an attitude to exhibit on special occasions or for special company) is a function of the Southern colonies traditionally being more rural and agricultural. In rural societies people had to travel quite a distance to visit with one another and stayed for a while once they arrived at their destination.
Others speculate that the impeccable manners of Southern inhabitants were simply passed down from the original settlers of the area, chiefly the English and the French, two cultures known for their code of manners. English colonists began the establishment of Jamestown in 1607, which eventually came to be called Charleston. Not long after this, the Low Country was Settled by immigrants from Barbados and the French Huguenots.
The hospitality and manners of the Old South are alive and well in the modern day southern Appalachian mountains. For example, studies have shown that most Southern parents teach their children to address adults as “Ma am” and Sir.” In addition, studies have also shown that helpful behaviors are more frequent in the South.
Most Southerners and visitors to the southern Appalachian mountains, however, do not need a poll or an empirical study to tell them that hospitality and helpfulness are a natural part of the Southern experience. The comments overheard from those visiting from other regions testify to the surprising fact that friendliness and openness pervade the behavior of Southerners - whether it is the act of holding the door open for someone, taking food to the family of one who is sick or in the hospital, or the modern day kindness of lending someone your cellular phone. To experience this kindness is to experience the South.
A characteristically southern Appalachian mountains trait that goes hand-in hand with hospitality is the trademark slower pace for which the South is known. To experience the South is to experience a pace of life which is less frenetic, patterns of speech which are more melodic, and attitudes which are more relaxed. This slow pace seems to lend itself to the attitude of hospitality : if you are not always in a hurry, you are more likely to offer someone a cold drink, to invite someone to visit awhile, or to pick up someone’s dropped pencil and return it.
Although the pace of life in the South may indeed be slower, Southerners would no doubt emphasize that this slower pace does not mean that they do not work as hard as those in other regions. Harper Lee, author of TO Kill A Mocking Bird, explained away the perception that because Southerners do not move as quickly that they do not work as hard by stating, “We work hard, of course, but we do it in a different way. We work hard in order not to work. Any time spent on business is more or less wasted, but you have to do it in order to be able to hunt and fish and gossip.”.
Most everyone would agree that Southerners have speech patterns and vocabulary peculiar to the south. Not only do Southerners use different words, but they pronounce the same words differently. For example , Southerners frequently omit the r sound when it follows a vowel, so pardon becomes “pahden” and butter becomes “buddah”. Mark twain remarked that “the educated Southerner has on use for an r except at the beginning of a word.
SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN HOSPITALITY is a priceless experience that almost all AT hikers (thru / section / day) remember. Most of us are only recently "adopted" southerners here at the TOP OF GEORGIA HIKING CENTER - but If you haven't tasted this type of treatment - we provide a fair facsimile - AND - it certainly oozes out of our local area :) ! Come by the Top of Georgia Hiking Center and experience a taste of it
Posted on 7/18/2016 at 8:00:00 PM