In my earlier attempts to be a columnist for the local newspapers, I called myself a RED NECK WRITER, making an attempt to mimic Lewis Grizzard. When it became obvious that my efforts were a total failure as only family members and shut-ins were reading the ramblings, my 4 daughters told me enough was enough and that I needed to write columns that were worth perusing (whatever that means).
This week I ran across a book entitled Red Ain’t Dead, which is a summary of comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s descriptions of Red Necks. I could not resist reviewing some of the 150 hilarious depictions of Red Necks by Jeff.
In reality, the part of our society labeled as Red Necks were named after hard working farmers and their field help. There was no sitting in the shade as the job in the cotton fields required 12 hour days of hard labor. Hence, a lot of them, even with broad brim hats, had red sun burned skin on the back of their necks. Even if you were the actual farm owner, your livelihood depended mostly on the bales of cotton harvested in early fall. If you had a crop failure due to the boll weevil or extended drought, the farmers and laborers had no income and had to survive impoverished conditions.
In my opinion, these people are to be admired. They had no subsidies and had to resort to whatever means available to survive. Hence Red Neck styles developed out of necessity–using the same bath water, using Sears & Roebuck catalog for toilet paper, using slop jars as there was no indoor toilet and using fertilizer sacks for clothes. It was true for both white and black families except I guess you can’t label the black people as Red Necks. As I sit here and think about the sufferings these people went through, I get a little teary eyed.
What is somewhat hypocritical about the Red Neck thing with Jeff is that he has limited exposure to any of these people. Jeff was born and raised in Atlanta and went to public schools there. He enrolled in Georgia Tech but dropped out to pursue a career as a comedian. He is quite successful as his reported net income in 2017 is 103 million dollars. His show on TV (Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?) attracted a large number of viewers throughout the country.
But these days it seems that the history of these hard working folks has faded but their styles have become fodder for humor. And even knowing the background, I can’t help but laugh at some of his depictions for I definitely experienced many of them in my early years. For example–
You might be a Red Neck if:
1. Your car wakes up people as you drive the neighborhood – One of the older brats in our neighborhood has a car that sounds like it is racing in the Daytona 500.
2. You honk your horn when pulling out of the drive way to keep from killing chickens – My grandpa did that.
3. You have a tire swing at your house – As of now, Jason Robinson has several in his front yard.
4. Your new sofa was on a curb in another part of town yesterday – Please do not tell my wife where I found it.
5. You offer to give the shirt of your back to some needy person and they do not want it – Umm, you are going to sweat if you push a lawn mower in July, but all you have to do is wash it.
6. If your belt buckle is bigger than your rear view mirror — I have been trying tell James Walter Allen about that ugly red tide belt buckle.
7. There are antlers nailed to the outside of your house – Rabbit Adams has them nailed to his house but they are located out of sight on his back porch.
8. You came back from the dump with more than you took – We Penny Pinchers do that all the time. If you do not believe it, ask Bobby Jennings.
9. Taking your wife on a cruise means circling the Dairy Queen – Jim Lindsey and I do that all the time with our spouses.
10. Today’s lunch was too late crossing the highway yesterday – If it is venison, it seems like a good idea. Take the animal down to the butcher shop and have him prepare it for your freezer.
11. You walk into the restaurant with a tooth pick in your mouth. That is sensible as fast food places do not furnish tooth picks.
Admittedly, most of today’s Red Necks chose this lifestyle. But in earlier years it was a matter of survival. I would not like to see rural small farms having to survive such conditions again. Many of the small farmers lost their farms to creditors who financed their seed and fertilizer.