Folklore Project: A Collection of Personal Essays from the American South

Scarsdale, New York

The Lunch Menu For Today

By Sharon G. Forman

Ask any Southern kid about elementary school, and at some point, a lunch-lady story will come up. Today’s story is from a suburban New York rabbi who grew up in Virginia and learned that nourishment of all kinds can come from a Southern school lunchroom, even if you keep kosher.

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Liberty, South Carolina

The Nightmare of Sunday Shoes

By Chris Carbaugh

Few things strike more fear in the hearts of children than the prospect of breaking in a new pair of stiff “Sunday shoes.” Chris Carbaugh today remembers a childhood shoe-shopping story — and recalls that making do with what you have sometimes brings much greater joy than scoring something new.

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Sydney, Australia

My Last Fight

By George Lancaster

George Lancaster, a Southerner by birth and now a longtime resident of Australia, recalls his first and only schoolboy fight in a newly integrated public school in Decatur, Georgia — and what that fight taught him, forever, about race and about friendship.

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Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Southern Accents and That Nashville Sound

By Shelley Johannson

Shelley Johannson, a Tennessee native now off in Pennsylvania, returns to our Folklore Project with a trenchant look at how her Southern accent has been perceived outside our region — and dives into the forces that drive those perceptions. “Accents,” Shelley writes, "are much more interesting to listen to than so-called Standard American English."

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Los Angeles, California

Skills No Longer Needed in Contemporary Life

By Mary Burge

Mary Burge, a Mississippian who has lived all over America, comes into tapes of interviews with her ancestors and ponders, What is the value of the Southern accent itself?

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Chicago, Illinois

My Home Is Not Below the Mason-Dixon Line

By Anne-Marie Akin

The Mason-Dixon Line is not, in truth, all that long. But for Southerners who live above it, it extends westward in the mind, and when we cross it, we know and feel that things are different.

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Currently Exploring Europe

On the Subject of Southern Food

By Gina Mallonee

Mrs. Ida’s fried chicken. Pie. Casseroles. The fellowship hall. Football. Gina Mallonee tells us how “mixing together those simple dishes,” memories of Southern childhood, can bring joy, longing and a needed dose of home.

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Nashville, Tennessee

Little Beauty Shop of Horrors

By Eric Skinner

Southerners of a certain age will recall trips as youngsters to the “beauty shop” (usually spelled “shoppe,” of course) with their moms. Eric Skinner of Nashville brings us just such remembrances, but with a rather dramatic twist.

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Portland, Oregon

Family Gumbo

By Sarah Broussard Weaver

In an effort to bring her Cajun roots into her marriage via food (even though she’d never been much of a cook), Sarah Weaver went in search of the right way to make gumbo, from the roux up. But when she sat down to learn the family gumbo from her mom, what came out was a family secret. 

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Chatsworth, Georgia

Old Parents, For God's Sake

By Erik Green

How does it change you when you come from generations marked by parenthood arriving at a late age? What does it mean to live in the 21st century when you're only two generations removed from the 19th?

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A growing collection of stories and other items we hope will tell a bigger story about what Southerners are really like in the 21st century. The Folklore Project will grow only if you share your stories, family memories, recipes and photographs. Just click here to submit.