by Cathy C. Hall That Southerners are polite is a well-known fact. Not so well known, perhaps, is that we’ll take politeness to extremes, just to prove the point. Hilton Head, South Carolina, is just across the Herman Talmadge Bridge, spanning the Savannah River. Today, Hilton Head is known as a resort area, golf courses and outlet stores covering almost every square mile that’s not beach. But the summer before I started high school, when my family rented a cottage there, Hilton Head was not nearly as developed. One lone plaza, with a grocery store and an ice cream shop, were all that the island had to offer on the social scene. So it was not too surprising to run into folks there. But to find folks we actually knew? No one expected that. There we were at the ice cream shop, me, my three brothers, and Mom and Dad, filling up on double scoop cones. In walked a young teenager that my oldest brother recognized as a schoolmate. The schoolmate’s family followed close behind. So, we all chatted awhile, the parents discussing about where we were renting in relation to where they were renting. No one was really paying much attention. It

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Kids across the South are making lemonade to help wildlife affected by the oil spill. by Erin Z. Bass It's a story as old as time: a brother and sister decide to open a summertime lemonade stand. But this time their motive involved much more than boredom or earning a buck for the ice cream truck. In Alexandria, Louisiana, 8-year-old Mark Terrillion and his 6-year-old sister, Lizette, wanted to help the pelicans affected by the oil spill and set up shop in front of their aunt's gift shop, Southern Chic, on a Wednesday morning. In addition to lemonade, the kids also sold baked goods and t-shirts printed with lemons and the saying, "LemonAid for the Gulf." The stand was a hit, with shirts going fast and other kids coming with their piggy banks to donate. More shirts were printed the next day, and by Friday, the kids had raised over $2,000. Since appearing on CNN with Anderson Cooper, Mark and Lizette have inspired kids all over the South to get on board and open their own stands. Outside of Alexandria, the city of Pineville was first with a stand in front of Fleur de Lis Boutique on Father's Day weekend. Acworth, Georgia, followed

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The town of Emerson in South Arkansas celebrates the PurpleHull Pea in June. by Kat Robinson of Tie Dye Travels Emerson’s PurpleHull Pea Festival isn’t just about food and community, it has a lot to do with motorpower and sheer chutzpah. I got down there last June, leaving the house at oh-dark-thirty to drive on down through Sheridan and Fordyce and Camden and Magnolia to get there around 10 that Saturday morning. Right on the highway in Emerson it didn’t look like much, but after I turned and headed west toward the high school, traffic picked up. I parked on the other side of the gymnasium and walked to the church where the Great PurpleHull Pea and Cornbread Cook-off was being held. While the judging had just about concluded, I had come at a great time for sampling. As the winners were announced and trophies handed out, I eyed easily a dozen different cornbreads, varying in color from white to brown to brilliant yellow, each with its own shape in a dish or piled on a plate. Nearly a dozen dishes of traditional PurpleHull Peas were out on the end, and on the other end less traditional dishes, like PurpleHull Pea Chili,

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by Ross Cavins A typical Summer Sunday in my childhood … Seventy degrees and sunny, a puffy white cloud here and there. Afternoon softball games with relatives in the oversized front yard. Children and grown-ups play without perspiring, The aroma of honeysuckles strong and sweet in the warm air. Fun is everywhere; The newly cut thick green carpet of centipede grass spongy beneath our feet, The freshly oiled leather gloves soft in our hands, The crack of the bat and a friendly scream to run, A bright laughter dancing in everyone's eyes, Sweet tea with ice cubes and tart lemon wedges sweating in old jelly jar glasses. Afterwards, the charcoal is doused with lighter fluid from a squeezy metal can, Salad is tossed with store-bought iceberg lettuce, garden-grown juicy tomatoes, Julienne carrot strips, hot-tasting radishes, slivers of green and red bell peppers, Slices of vine-ripened cucumbers. Hamburger patties are lumpy, hand-made with Worcestershire sauce and ketchup and Onion soup mix and minced garlic. Placed on the grill when it's hot enough to sizzle, Grease-fed orange flames engulfing them with hisses of smoky flavor. The ice cream maker is plugged in and filled with milk and sugar and Vanilla extract and mashed bananas, surrounded by rock salt and ice and Running like a sputtering outboard motor. Buns are toasted with pats of real butter

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by Erin Z. Bass Last month we reported that author Kathryn Stockett's Southern favorite, The Help, was hitting the big screen. Well, now it's time for Mississippi locals to get their chance too. This Saturday, June 19, moviemakers are holding an open casting call in Greenwood, Mississippi, where filming will begin in mid-July. Men and women of all ages are needed as extras in non-speaking parts, and producers are also looking for 3-year-old identical twin girls to play the part of Mae Mobley. According to the Mississippi Film Office, "Talkative children are great as this is a speaking role and the children will have lines in the film. Twins need to be identical as they will be playing one child." No experience is necessary for any of the roles. A second casting call will also be held in Jackson on June 26. Everyone attending must bring a recent snapshot no larger than 4x6 (not returnable) and a pen. If you can't attend, you can still fill out "The Help Extras" form on the film office's website. To find out more about the movie, read our original story, "Help Hits Big Screen." Casting Call Dates & Locations Saturday, June 19 Leflore County Civic Center 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 200 Hwy. 7

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by Erin Z. Bass Last week, Lafayette/New Orleans artist George Rodrigue, best known for his paintings of the now iconic "Blue Dog," released his latest print, "The Emerald Coast." It depicts the blue waters, white sand beaches and a row of striped umbrellas that is instantly recognizable to Southerners as Destin, Fort Walton and the surrounding areas of Florida. Blue Dog of course lounges under an umbrella. Rodrigue's wife, Wendy, says George began working on the Emerald Coast way before the oil spill, so the print is not associated with it, but fans on his Facebook page see the print as an opportunity to purchase a beautiful depiction of our coastline. "We all should buy one so we will remember what the coast looked like before the oil," says one fan. Wendy does say that George considered an oil-spill related piece and stayed up nights creating some (one is pictured below.) She explains on her blog why we won't see any of those for sale. "In the past month, the shrimp industry, a coastal parish government, environmental organizations, and even the oil industry approached him for a print benefiting their cause. This is a political monster he cannot address, and his efforts

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by Martha Lyons The sweat trickles between my shoulder blades and down my back. It is hot as hell in this room. Papa died two days ago. We are all waiting in a small white clapboard church In a small north Louisiana town To say our final goodbyes. The air is almost visible with humidity. There is a sound – the whoosh of paper fans. I catch a whiff of Shalimar. Finally the speaking is over and it is time for the last viewing. I leave through the front door. I do not want to see. The empty grave is waiting for its owner. Martha Lyons was born and raised in Winnsboro, Louisiana, and received her BA in English from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She was halfway through a master’s degree in literature when her husband (now ex) took her away to Orange County, California. She took up writing again through classes at a junior college there and "was lucky enough to have Michelle Mitchell-Foust as my professor, and she gave me the courage to write," says Martha. Poems like this one and another, titled "Mockingbird Summer," which we'll run later in the season, help her stay in touch with her Southern roots and feel closer to home. 

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We all remember things our parents, grandparents or neighbors used to say. Funny turns of phrase that made you stop a moment and wonder what in the world they were talking about. Well, the two ladies of SweeTea T-Shirts in North Carolina are helping to ensure those sayings, whether it be "If the good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise" or "Who's pluckin' this chicken

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kby Erin Z. Bass Alabama's biggest literary claim to fame may be To Kill A Mockingbird, but the state has another, lesser known one that made just as big an impact on the world. Tuscumbia, located in the northwest corner of the state, was the home of Helen Keller, the blind and deaf little girl who continues to touch the hearts of young children with her story and biography. I was reminded of this recently while reading Jill McCorkle's book, Ferris Beach, one of the picks in our Summer Reading List. It's about only child Kate Burns who is fascinated with the story of Helen Keller. At age 8, she's checked out the biography so many times at her local library that the librarian tells her she can't check it out again that year, and has also made a game of acting out both the parts of Helen and her teacher Anne Sullivan alone in her room. Kate's mother can hear her up there, bumping into and tripping over things, and doesn't think the game is healthy, but I think that after hearing Helen Keller's story, most children wonder what it would be like to be blind and shut their eyes for

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by Erin Z. Bass As I was eating lunch today and listening to the local public radio station, KRVS 88.7, I heard a mention of "Deep South," and my ears perked up. It turned out to be the name of Mississippi native and Lafayette, Louisiana, slide guitar legend Sonny Landreth's song the station was about to play. I'd never heard the song before and after I finished eating, looked up the lyrics. The last song on Landreth's 2000 Sugar Hill release, Levee Town, which also includes "The U.S.S. Zydecoldsmobile" and "Soul Salvation," "Deep South" talks about pirate Jean Lafitte's buried treasure and the spell of the "sweet keep" of the Deep South. On his website, Landreth explains what what the "sweet keep" is and why he placed "Deep South" as the last track on the album: “The 'sweet keep' is a protection, something or someone looking out for you. Like the last songs on both 'Outward Bound' and 'South of I-10,' I wanted the last track for this album to offer an affirmation. To 'follow your bliss,' as Joseph Campbell used to say, is to feel the magic that surrounds us with every moment, to put the static of everyday routine on pause

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