I Wish I Was In The Land Of Cotton

...He told me about marching from Selma to Montgomery as a young man. About Doctor King. About getting arrested during the riots.

I don’t know his real name, but his friends call him Bubba. He has skin darker than walnut, and a white fuzzy beard.

I met him once. He raises bluetick hounds on a farm with his son, selling them to gun-dog lovers everywhere.

In the short time we talked, he told me about marching from Selma to Montgomery as a young man. About Doctor King. About getting arrested during the riots.

Nice man.

Then, there’s the elderly woman I met outside Opp who raised sixteen kids. Sixteen. Her hair, still as red as copper.

She lived in a twelve-by-twelve shed her son made into an apartment—complete with flat-screen television and AC.

Her son told me, “In a big family, we used’a compete for Mama’s attention. Man, I feel so lucky she lives with me.”

Don—an old man who weighs a buck ten. Maybe less. He runs a mechanic shop out of a barn in North Florida. Auto collectors come from all over for him work on rare vehicles.

“Started this business after I got outta prison,” he said. “Was in the pen four years.”

I asked why they locked him up.

“Mary Jane,” he answered.

Lydia. She is Birmingham’s June Cleaver—Scarlett O’Hara accent. Her nineteen-year-old daughter contracted a rare disease while on a mission trip in Africa. She died suddenly.

Lydia is flying out this week to retrieve her daughter’s body.

“When you have a daughter,” she said. “You imagine your little girl will get married some day. You never think this will happen.”

John, from North Georgia. He’s a man who shoots dove and deer on weekends. Once, he was a high-powered attorney. Today, he works part time at Home Depot so he has time to care for his wife with MS.

John said, “Having so much time with my wife is a privilege. Mostly, we watch a lotta Netflix.”

Why am I telling you this? Because.

I overhead someone in a restaurant today. Three someones. Men in business suits, sitting in the booth behind me. One made a derogatory remark about Southerners.

I won’t tell you what he said because this world has enough foul remarks.

No sooner had he said it, than his pal pointed at a heavyset fella wearing a camouflage hat.

“Look guys,” he whispered. “There’s Johnny redneck now.”

They had a nice laugh.

Look, I’m not upset—even if this fella does have his head shoved halfway up his molasses jar. But it hurts my feelings. Because he’s got this place all wrong. He’s got everything wrong.

I guess that’s why I’m writing this. Because I wish he could meet a few folks that make up a place where old times are not forgotten.

Starting with Bubba.


  1. Gayle Dawkins - December 9, 2016 11:00 am


    • Mahalia - December 23, 2016 7:31 pm

      Woot, I will ceriatnly put this to good use!

  2. Kim - December 10, 2016 1:14 am

    Sure I’m a little prejudice about the south,,,I mean being born in Andalusia and all it just comes natural. I remember in the sixth grade I cried when I heard we would be moving to Atlanta,,because I thought General Sherman had burnt it all. This was 1974,,,, nobody told me they had built it back… But what is it about Yankees that just always want to be putting others down ????,,,,,,I know this is stereotyping ,,,,and I shouldn’t do it,,,,but it has been my life experience….maybe it’s Gomer and Goober Pyles fault…but if you talk slow,,have manners, , and prefer R.C cola instead of Pepis or Coke you are deemed a rube and less intelligent…

  3. Martha M Wilson - January 2, 2017 3:38 pm

    I have found that there are good and not-so-good people everywhere. I grew up with an Alabama Daddy and a NC Mama, and for a long time I thought DamnYankee was one word. Now I have friends on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, and beyond. Trying to shove people into categories is like trying to catch sunshine in a jar. Don’t let what other minds conjure up influence your reality.

    Thanks, Sean, for bringing perspective into life. Hope you have a great New Year and that you continue to open eyes with your gift for writing, and your heart that understands people.

  4. Rose - January 11, 2017 9:56 pm

    I have lived in the Indiana far longer than I lived in Tennessee, but Tennessee will always be my home…if you want you can read about how I feel about it at here.

    Anyway, every now and then I hear those kinds of comments about the south and I think I know how you feel. I would say what my husband says but it is not fit for polite company…keep in mind that he was a plumber/steamfitter at a prison for 25 years. And it is not his normal way of talking…but he has one line he tells me when I end up dealing with someone not so nice. It was along the lines of ‘they are just one more _______ in a long line of ________.’ He is not from the south though we lived there for a couple years and he loved it.

  5. Tara - March 20, 2017 12:05 pm

    Peoples are so quick to judge. Live and let live. Love your stories. Keep up the good work

  6. Bill Smyser - March 20, 2017 2:13 pm

    As my father told me: Yankees are like hemorrhoids. If they come down then go back up there isn’t a problem but if they come down and stay down they are a real pain in the butt.

    • Catherine - March 20, 2017 6:58 pm

      You got that right Mr. Smyser

  7. Beth Spivey - March 21, 2017 2:49 am

    I live in the 45, own a 270, 12 gauge, 22, 38 special snub nose revolver, a dog named Red and drive a 4020. Life is heaven for me in Alabama.


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