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Sweet Mama's Words of Wisdom
by Jackie Gilbreath

While growing up in Jasper, Alabama, my brother and I often got the "wants" for things -- "I want a motorcycle"..."I want a Gucci bag"..."I want to pierce my ears"-- to which my Sweet Mama would come back with her famous reply, "People in hell want ice water." Except her comment usually started with, "Well--"

I'm not sure why but almost everything from Sweet Mama starts off with "Well--"

If we ever noticed folks working on their house or yard and the average passer-by could tell from looking that the only thing that would really help would be the insurance check that would come after the fire totally destroyed the place, Sweet Mama would shake her head and say, "Well... further proof that you simply cannot make chicken salad out of chicken shit."

My brother modified that last one a bit and often uses, "You can't polish a turd."

I also love how my grandparents in Sumter, South Carolina, always listen "at" things instead of listening "to" things.

My favorite Southern comedian, Aaron Wilburn, has some great quotes about Southern folks and their "ponderings"-- like if Jimmy cracked corn and no one cared, why did they write a song about it? And if the No. 2 pencil is the most popular pencil in the world, why isn't it No. 1? And who was the first person to look at a cow and say: "Hmmmm, I think I'll squeeze those dangly-down things and drink whatever comes out."

One of my favorite Southern writers, Celia Rivenbark, says, "Bless his heart, if they put his brain on the head of a pin it would roll around like a BB on a 6-lane highway."

Colorful - yes! Boring - never! I can't imagine life anywhere else but the colorful South! So I, for one, will keep cutting the light off, mashing the buttons in the elevator, and carrying my friends out to eat in the Heart of Dixie for as long as I live! My Sweet Mama would approve.


Here are more South Mouth stories at USADS:
The Ants
Southern Weights and Measurements
Writing Southren
Salute to South Mouth
Speaking Southern


Jackie Gilbreath, an Alabama gal, writes:
I have never been "published," but I am considered the Queen of Fluff at my bank. Those boring ol' reports they want me to send out with nothing but a bunch of figures and percentages on them are just screaming to be fluffed up a bit, you know, so they'll be more reader friendly. I graduated from the University of North Alabama in 1992 with a degree in Communications (translated: STILL didn't know what I wanted to do, but it wasn't teaching or nursing, so "Communications" sounded great.)

I write stories and have also written poetry over the years; I am a single mother with two little boys and I want to record things for them.

I do watch NASCAR occasionally. I love Alabama football (my dogs are Bryant and Brody). I teach 5th grade Sunday School at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church. I love my Sweet Mama and my "Deddy" and, most of the time, even my brother. There's not much more to tell -- I am a big fan of the new Famous Bowl at KFC and cheap shiny jewelry, shoes and purses! Guess that about does it...


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