Thursday, September 20, 2012

"In Defense of the Common Redneck"

Whew! I can't tell you what a relief it is to get back to a subject I really know something about. I was in kind of deep water on my last post so now I feel a little like Brer Rabbit after he had got hissef throwd back into the brier patch. Man, it feels mighty good to be home!

Now maybe you didn't realize it, but there are actually some Christian rednecks around. In fact there are a few (me and Jeremy anyway) Mennonite Christian rednecks in southern Campbell County. If you go north towards Charlottesville and east towards Richmond or Va. Beach people get more high-falutin and citified. If you to west towards Floyd County (I've got relatives there) you run into just plain old hillbillys. There's some similarities but they ain't necesarily the same.
 My good friend Jeremy (sorry Jordan, couldn't get you out of the way) and his favorite t-shirt. At least I guess it is because he wore it in the picture that his family sent out at Christmas time. How to hunt like a redneck. Shine, shoot, and run!

How can you tell if you're in redneck country? Let me  give you a few clues. One surefire way to know you're passing thru redneck country is if all the road signs are shot full of holes. I've never really figured this one out, but rednecks do have a strong hankering for shooting things and maybe when hunting season isn't in they just have to cut loose at something.

Another obvious clue is how much curl is on the bill of a guy's baseball style cap. The more curl, the more redneck. I personally wear mine at about half-curl which would be sort of moderately redneckish.

At the peak of my career. Myron and I were singing "Now the way to cook a possum is to bake him nice and sweet, put him in a fryin' pan with taters roun' his feet"
And the bib overalls. Tuck Poindexter was one of my favorite locals. Tuck was a big man with a big voice. I'm not sure I ever saw him in anything else except bib overalls. He kept his head shaved like a pealed onion, had a walrus mustache, had one arm missing; sometimes he wore his hook and sometimes he didn't. In the summer his favorite wardrobe was the bib overalls all by themselves with no shirt.  He had a cattle truck and did our cattle hauling for many years. Tuck had a closer sense of "space" between people than most.When having a conversation you would feel a little too close so you would back up a step every so often. Then of course he would take a step forward. If you were in a 20 minute conversation you might be 10 or 15 feet back from where you started from at the beginning.

And listen to the jokes. In Lancaster or Goshen they have Amish jokes. Around here it's the redneck ones. Like "you know you're a redneck if your front porch falls off and more than five hounds get killed". One of my favorites actually mentions the Amish as well. How to tell if your Amish neighbor is a redneck?? If he has his horse up on blocks.

There really is something about the relationship between a redneck and his hounds. Years ago  Whitehall Plantation  was bought by Mr. James Britt from Suffolk, VA. Now they hunted deer with hounds back in Suffolk as well, but they would surround a tract of land and use the hounds more like drivers.

Here the redneck hunt clubs (even though I claim to be a redneck, I don't like this style of hunting) run big Walker hounds and turn their dogs loose on one road and run the deer hoping they will cross another road somewhere. And sometimes they run the deer for miles. And while the dogs are trailing the deer, the "hunters" are roaring up and down the roads in their 4wheel drive pickups keeping each other informed on the particulars of the chase by cb radio. Billy Joe Poindexter told me once how some of the guys in the hunt club determined if they had a good hunting day. If you burned a tank of gas and shot up a box of shells, that was a good day. It didn't really have that much to do with killing a deer, he said.

What really irked Mr. Britt was that they hunted his land without his permission. The dogs ran thru his property and they would just pick the deer off when they crossed the road; they didn't even need to get on his land themselves. So he started shooting a hound every now and then when he thought he could get away with it.

Somehow this was found out and he was hauled into court. He told me afterwards that he found out one thing, if you want to do something to these guys, shoot their wife maybe but definitely don't shoot their hounds.

You know you're in redneck country if Mud Bogging is one of the main sports. Never heard of it?  There is a big trench dug out and filled with dirt and water to make mud. Then you try to get thru it with your pickup." I've never actually been to one and probably better not start. When I was young and was off-roading and came to a mud hole, I would feel this irresistable  urge to see if I could make it thru to the other side. And I didn't have a 4wheel drive truck either, so the technique was to back up and get the most speed possible so the speed would carry you at least part way thru on pure inertia. If you did get bogged down you had to use the old rock it back and forth trick. You weren't truly stuck as long as you were still gaining a couple of inches on each forward run.

Mike Cox is a friend of my cousin Donnie and was also the sheriff of neighboring Amherst County some years back. He told me how it was when he got elected. He was running against an incumbent  sheriff who didn't take his challenge all that seriously. The incumbent made the statement, "Oh, the only ones who will vote for Mike will be the redneck loggers." Well, said Mike, what the old boy didn't realize was that most of Amherst County people were redneck loggers!

Now rednecks aren't always model citizens. Reminds me of the words of an old country song I remember from years ago. It goes, "Makin' their way, the only way they know how;  that's just a little bit more than the law will allow." They might be a good neighbor on one hand and make a little moonshine on the other.

But there are some things about them you've just got to admire.(here are a few nuggets I got from a redneck website) They have no respect for man made timelines. They live one day at a time. A true redneck may put his car up on blocks for a decade before restoration begins. True-blue rednecks feel really sorry for the poor people who work themselves to the bone for 8 years in college only to become corporate slaves.

Where did the term "redneck" come from anyway? In the 1640's there were Presbyterians in (I think) Scotland (or was it Ireland) who refused to accept the Church of England as their official state church. They signed a covenant opposing it, some of them signing with their own blood. This lead to them being called "Covenanters". They also would wear red cloths around their necks to publicly identify themselves with the movement. This gave them the nickname "rednecks", which followed them to the New World.

Rednecks. You gotta love 'em in spite of themselves.

 And I think when I go to work tomorrow morning and before I put on my faithful Hackett's Chain Saw Sales camouflage cap I'll give that bill just a little bit more curl for good measure.

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