Mail Call: May/June 2007

article image Diederich

The Grammar Of Y’All

The humorous and enjoyable vignette about racing lizards by Gerald McGlothin in the March/April issue of GRIT
seemed to imply that Southerners say “you all” when speaking about or to one person. A Southerner in those incidences is not thinking one person even though there might be just one person in sight. When “you all” or “y’all” is used, it is meant to include the person’s entire family (or sometimes his business, club, organization, etc.). To us, it is a polite way of being inclusive of those represented but not present. Probably the use started when communities were smaller, and one’s family members were known to everyone and were asked about, sometimes in this nonintrusive way. “You all” makes sure no one is left out.

I am 76 years old, I have lived in the South nearly all of my life, and I have never heard any authentic Southerner say “you all” when they meant only one person.

An example: A Southerner looking at one person asks, “How are you all?”

A true Southerner answers in the plural (or implies the plural), “We are fine.”

If the answer had been, “I am fine,” the first Southerner probably would have thought or said, “Oh, who is sick?”

— Anne Sowell, Hendersonville, Tennessee

Amen, Anne, and a wonderful analysis. See “Editor’s Note,” for some more thoughts on this subject. – Editors

Multitool Troubles

I don’t want to blame you for starting trouble in my marriage, but you are not helping. I’m sitting in a community-owned food cooperative during a blizzardy day in Viroqua, Wisconsin, trying to meet a deadline before heading out to do a speaking gig. They have a little coffee shop in here so the predominant fragrances are my steaming cup of Fair Trade Peruvian and strong traces of patchouli – two of my favorite things. Anyway, they stock GRIT at the checkout, and when I saw that the index included an article on multitools, I just had to spring for it.

Now, the marriage issue. I am addicted to multitools. My wife just rolls her eyes. I dream of the day I splurge for the big one. But there are two problems. No. 1, I simply lose everything. I am the King of Absent-Minded Peoples (and do not wear a belt … thus the tool with the clip attachment caught my eye). So I only allow myself to buy little cheapie knockoff versions. Naturally, if I added up all the cheapie ones I’ve lost, I could finance a high-end one. Problem No. 2: When provided with information and options, I lock up. So imagine me trying to select the perfect multi-tool. Absolute wild-eyed paralysis.

But now your article’s got me all revved up. So my poor wife is going to have to hear about it again …

I will say now that we’re on the farm, I’ve actually used my cheapie multitools several times. I just puff out my chest and get so proud when I produce it to good effect. Again, my wife just rolls her eyes. She is driven to do a lot of that.

I’m three days from home, perhaps this will all wear off in the interim.

Although now I also want a mule for dragging the firewood sled …

Mike Perry
New Auburn, Wisconsin

Thanks for writing, Mike (author of Never Stand Behind a Sneezing Cow, Truck: A Love Story, and Population: 485). We hope your wife learns to enjoy GRIT – and that you get your mule. – Editors

Make Culverts Safer

Regarding “Culvert Crossings” in your March/April 2007 issue, I would like to suggest that adding an anti-vortex device on the inflow of the culvert will allow it to carry full capacity. Without this device, the culvert will suck air and carry only about one-half to two-thirds of what it is capable of carrying. The device can be created by cutting a slope on the end of the culvert equal to one-half of its diameter and putting the long slope on top upstream. Or a plate the same diameter of the culvert can be bolted horizontally to the top of the upstream end. This is also safer for humans and animals because it reduces the suction power created by the swirling water and air entering the culvert.

Dempsey T. Sharp
Nelsonville, Ohio

GRIT Kept Me Out of Trouble

In 1950, when I was 10, my mother had about had it with my getting into trouble. She always bought the GRIT and had seen the applications to be a carrier. To deliver you needed to be 12 years old, but since my mother filled out the form, I was 12. And I was out from under foot a little while each week.

Selling GRIT turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to me. I got to go all over town and not get in trouble for doing so. I was able to buy my own bicycle at the local Western Auto for $1 down and $1 a week.

I carried GRIT through most of 1954. That 4 cents a paper never made me rich, but I didn’t know it at the time.

I love the new GRIT.

Marvin D. Atkin
Hamersville, Ohio

Direction Correction

I farmed for many years on the Iowa prairies where I was born and raised, where the sections are square and the roads are straight. Transferring to Virginia was an adjustment with its rolling, wooded hills and curving roads!

I enjoyed the March/April GRIT, featuring the Winchester Feed & Seed Store and pawpaw production at Berryville, Virginia. The articles brought back good memories of our stay in Virginia.

But, I wondered if I left my sense of direction back in the Midwest! The first sentence in the Feed & Seed story states, “As a visitor approaches downtown Winchester, Virginia, east of the congressional hub of Washington, D.C. …” Winchester is a good distance west of D.C. as I recall!

Alvin Dykstra
Worthington, Minnesota

Whoops! Good catch, Alvin. Hope we didn’t get anyone lost. – Editors

City Girl Plots Escape to Country

I am so pleased to have discovered your magazine! I had not known about GRIT while growing up here in my big city. Now that you have changed to a magazine format, I am seeing you on many newsstands. As a city girl still plotting my escape to the country, I am always searching for resources and wisdom that will help me with my future plans. GRIT will definitely be among those resources!

I am looking forward to future issues!

Gayle Brown
San Jose, California

Wren Couture

I’ve been standing at the kitchen sink – not to wash dishes, but to watch a sweet little brown wren busy building her nest just outside my window.

Last summer I had a fiber-lined hanging basket there filled with viney things like petunias, etc. Last fall I pulled the petunias out and left the rest of the foliage all winter – one green and white vine never did die back, but the asparagus fern did – so there’s brown dead and green living still in the basket.

The little wren showed up last week – darting in and out for several days. I got on my stepstool, looked over into the basket and saw that she had wallowed out a depression in the dirt and is now bringing in stuff to line it with. And it looks like she is building sort of a top to the nest so it will be an enclosed affair.

Whatever style she builds, it will be the best-looking one on the block, because I took bits and pieces of lace, yarn, some shiny thread, and cut some strings off an old mop, and put them all in a flat basket, which I put on the porch. She gets in there and digs around until she finds just the right piece for her decor. She is so adorable, in her little camouflaged nest all gussied up with lace and yarn.

Lindsay Webb
Longview, Texas

What a delightful story! Thank you for working with our feathered friends for mutual aid and enjoyment. For a photo that will make you happy it’s springtime, see Last Thoughts. – Editors

Share your thoughts

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