Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I never thought of myself as Southern, not even as a boy growing up in the house where my mother and uncles grew up on what was in their youth a small, not very successful farm in Irmo, South Carolina. Well, not in Irmo. Out toward Lake Murray back before the countryside was engulfed by suburbs. My grandfather, Mr. Dave Haltiwanger, was a schoolteacher who took over the family farm when his father died because it was his responsibility to do so. My grandmother, Mrs. Sue, some ten years younger, had been his pupil. They married soon after she graduated high school. My uncle once told me that my grandfather was not much of a farmer, woefully ill-suited to the lot that fell his way. My grandmother could saw a board or hammer a nail straighter than he ever could. I was named after my grandfather and people often remarked on my resemblance to him. Like my namesake I am not a man of practical bent and skills. While I no more think myself Southern now than I did then, I figure I shelled enough butterbeans, husked enough corn, and stepped in enough cow manure as a kid to stake some claim to Southern legitimacy if it comes to that. Even today, so many years passed and so much gone, I still think of it as home and get a little weepy when I see Granny bent over in the garden, her flowerbeds, the hog pasture, the bottoms, the pine trees my brother put out for a 4-H project, the little elementary school where four of my teachers had taught my mother, the little Lutheran church on the hill where those who mean so much to me now lie.