Cool off in some of the South's beloved public pools.
by Erin Z. Bass As heat advisories across the South continue today, with temperatures over 100 degrees in several places, Deep South suggests a surefire way to cool off. Head out to your local community pool and dive in! Community pools have long been a respite from the heat in summertime, and I remember spending many a day at the "Town Club" pool while growing up. Most cities have at least one, but some, like Austin, Texas, have many to choose from. Austin's Parks and Recreation Department's Aquatic Division operates 43 public pool facilities, including Deep Eddy, the city's much-beloved public pool.
The oldest swimming pool in Texas, Deep Eddy began as a swimming hole in the Colorado River. The concrete pool was built in 1915 and became the centerpiece of a resort that included a bathing beach, zip line and diving platform. Now owned by the city, Deep Eddy continues to be a favorite Austin swimming hole today, fed with clear, cold water from a hand-dug well. Proof of Deep Eddy's status in the state? The pool has a sweet tea vodka and record label named after it. (For more photos of
by Erin Z. Bass
Some Gulf waters may still be closed to fishing, but in Cypremort Point, Louisiana, the blue crabs in the bay are biting. We caught over two dozen this past Saturday with nets hung from the wharf and turkey necks as bait. This usually means a crab boil is in our future after sunset, but this time, a camp guest proposed a new idea. My brother's girlfriend's dad (take a second to process that) offered to put the crabs on the barbecue. We took him up on the idea and may not want to eat boiled crabs again. With the backs off, gradoux cleaned out and the shells basted with Cajun seasoning, the crabs soak up some smoky flavor from the pit and peeling them to get to the meat inside is worth every minute. (Scroll down to get the recipe.) Barbecued Crabs
1-2 dozen fresh, live crabs
Cajun seasoning blended with butter or oil or favorite brand of Cajun basting sauce
Place crabs on ice to shock so that backs can be removed. Using a knife, remove the underside of the crab and clean out gills and guts. Baste with sauce, then place back side down on a hot pit. After
Summer Reading List
The best beach reads, mysteries, chick lit & new releases from down South. A Soft Place to Land
Susan Rebecca White
Billed as the next book club pick by author of The Help Kathryn Stockett, Susan Rebecca White’s follow up to Bound South spans nearly two decades in the lives of Atlanta sisters Ruthie and Julia. After their parents die in a place crash on their way to see the Grand Canyon, the girls must deal with the emotions of resentment, anger and jealousy while healing from the loss, searching for love and beginning their careers. Their journey will take them from their familiar home in Atlanta to bohemian San Francisco, a mountain town in Virginia, the campus of Berkeley and lofts in Brooklyn, until another shocking accident changes everything once again. Backseat Saints
If you read Joshilyn Jackson’s gods in Alabama, you’ll remember the character of Rose Mae Lolley. She was supposed to be just a minor girlfriend, but ended up taking on a life of her own and is now the star of Backseat Saints, which comes out this month. Rose Mae, now Ro Grandee, is a Texas housewife with a husband who’s as abusive as her father. But
by Erin Z. Bass
Nothing says Deep South quite like a pink flamingo in the front yard, but now even the fanciest of homes can feel good about their outdoor ornaments. Danielle Bacque of Pink Flamingos in South Louisiana has literally turned the plastic birds into works of art with a little paint and embellishment. Without a scrap of pink in sight, her birds are decorated to resemble chili peppers, ladybugs, rhinestone cowgirls, Mardi Gras, watermelons, alligators and more. She's even taken inspiration from the masters, with the Van Gogh Sunflower, Pollock and Monet's Water Color flamingos. And OK, we lied, there is a "Pretty in Pink" bird adorned with feathers.
Bacque got the idea for her funky birds from a fundraiser she headed up as director of the Memory Walk for the Alzheimer's Association. Flocks of flamingos would be placed around town at businesses, who were said to have been "flocked" and asked for a donation to remove them. They could then choose the next place the birds would travel, keeping them on the move for the cause. Bacque no longer works with the organization, but does offer flamingo fundraiser packages on the Funky Flamingos website.
She also takes requests for designs
by Erin Z. Bass
The current issue of Bon Appetit magazine lists the best new cocktail bars across the country, and Southern cities New Orleans, Nashville and Houston get a mention as taking part in the cocktail revolution. Defined by BA as "nattily dressed bartenders, pre-Prohibition-era settings, and fresh ingredients," this is not just a fleeting trend. "It's never been easier to get a well-prepared Manhattan, Old-Fashioned, or other classic in just about every American city," writer Andrew Knowlton concludes.
In Nashville, the Patterson House is a bit swankier than a lot of the city's honky tonk bars. Reviews on Yelp all point to the Bacon Old-Fashioned as the drink of choice, but this bar also serves up Pimms Cups, whiskey-based Carpetbaggers and Tequila Mockingbirds on Music Row. Anvil Bar & Refuge on Westheimer in Houston is noted for its creativity and classics. Ginger beer and bitters are made in-house, and there's a list of "100 Drinks Everyone Should Try at Least Once." You can bet the Sazerac, Manhattan, Gin Sour and Singapore Sling are on it.
Cure in New Orleans is described as an "uptown watering hole a bit more sophisticated than most bars in the Crescent City." With a cocktail menu
by Gary Bloom
The last time I saw him he
Was at the Jazz Fest in New Orleans
A hot spring day at the Fair Grounds
A black piano in a muddy field
With Jerry Lee Lewis pounding the keys
Like his life depended on it.
A bottle of beer was up there
On the piano, like a candelabra
Between songs he would
Take a swig or two
Do a little dance
And get back to work,
The beer a metaphor
For hard living and wild women,
The piano on its last legs
Getting pounded to death.
by Gary Bloom
After twenty years of driving
The same road to the same job
I wonder what it would be like
To keep going on I10
West, all the way to California.
What would it have been like
To have lived out there, say
San Diego. Would I have
Married a Mexican girl?
Would I have kids?
What would it have
Been like if just
Once I missed exit 53
And kept going on I10
Through New Orleans, through
The Texas hill country
And the Arizona desert
All the way to the blue Pacific.
What would that have been like?
Airmen At The Mall
by Gary Bloom They walk in pairs
One wingman, the other
Leading the way.
They are fresh out of Keesler
And look to be about twelve.
In their bus driver blue uniforms
They could be headed
For the Catholic high school.
by Ruth J. Hartman Last June, I traveled with my parents to a family reunion in Mississippi. My husband couldn’t get off work, so I rode the two-day trip from Indiana in my parents’ backseat.
The condo we stayed in was nice, but crowded. There was only one bedroom so I bunked on a scratchy, lumpy couch. It just happened to be six inches too short for anyone taller than a gnome to stretch out on.
Always a light sleeper, I tried to get at least fourteen minutes of shuteye before the next day’s onslaught of loud and affectionate relatives. But I kept hearing a bird that would not quit singing. The silly feathered thing sang all night long right outside the living room window. Were it not for the six inches of plastered wall between us, it would have literally been sitting on my head.
After several hours of lying on the too-short, scratchy couch, listening to the obnoxious bird twitter and chirp, I realized he was singing several different songs. With nothing else to do, I kept track. I counted twenty-one different melodies in his repertoire. He would only stop for a few minutes at a time. I assumed he was taking
by Martha Lyons
It’s a Sunday afternoon
And I’m watching To Kill a Mockingbird again.
I’ve read the book and
Seen the movie
I don’t know how many times.
It takes me home
To a small southern town,
Deep in summer.
The air hot and humid,
Heavy with the sweet scent of honeysuckle.
Children can play outside
In the mysterious summer night.
Inside, the windows are open and
Curtains sway gently,
Blown by a lazy fan.
Is not lost on a child, who dreams
Of popsicles and bike rides,
And playing marbles in the dust
Under an old maple tree.
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 "Southern Funeral," also published in our "Poetry" section, help her stay in touch with her Southern roots and feel closer to home.
by Erin Z. Bass
Like most of us Southerners, I read the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" in school and probably watched the movie then too. Growing up in a small town where everybody on our street knew each other, I could relate to the Boo Radley house (it was right across the street from my own and occupied much of my time standing at the kitchen window with binoculars trying to find out what went on inside) as well as to Mrs. Dubose (she lived two houses down and didn't appreciate my sister and I picking her roses). What I didn't find out until much later is that the town of Maycomb actually exists. It's Monroeville, Alabama, the home of Harper Lee, courthouse featured in the book and an annual theatrical production of the now classic story.
As "To Kill a Mockingbird" celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Monroeville is preparing for thousands of "Mockingbird" fans to descend upon the town starting today and lasting through the weekend. The Monroe County Heritage Museum kicks off the celebration with a panel discussion by residents who remember the novel’s publication and how it transformed their sleepy little town. Thursday's schedule also includes the
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