Today while watching Sharon of All Norah'S Art talk about class supplies, I found myself getting tickled over her words and mannerism's; she's always a delight to read or watch and listen to. There were several comments made about her cute Texas accent and pronunciation of certain words. So it brings back memories of accent and speech problems I've had along my merry way through different sections of the states. I've been from Upper Michigan to Illinois, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona and Wisconsin; so I now have my own mixed accents and mixed way of speech!
I was born and raised in the U. P. of Michigan. That's the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, mostly along Lake Superior and lake Michigan, too. It's the part of Northern Michigan that people tend to think is Canada or part of Wisconsin. Nope, we're YOOPERS, folks in Michigan who live ABOVE the Mackinac bridge. According to Yoopers, those who live BELOW the bridge in Lower Michigan are TROLLS. Ya, you know, those little guys who live under the bridge in the Fairy tale. Some like to say that we talk like in the movie, "Fargo", but really we don't! Close maybe, but not that bad, hey?
When I first married, we left the U.P. en-route to Texas but ended up living in Illinois. Now you wouldn't think there's much of a change from the U.P. to down in Illinois toward Chicago. That's when I first discovered I had an accent! I never knew! The first question after meeting someone was, "so you must be from Canada, hey? NO, really? Well then you must be from way up there in Minnesota!
No? Upper Michigan, the U.P., really? I always thought that was part of Canada, you talk like a Canadian." Really? Well, Illinoisans have accents, too. It's just a tad more modified and toned down from Yoopers. I lived in Illinois just long enough that I thought I was toning down the Yooper accent.
While still in Illinois, I went through my 1st divorce and later met and married a guy from ALABAMA. I took the new husband to my hometown in the U.P. in the Winter to meet my family. That visit is a story on it's own. Let's just say that he had my siblings and the whole neighborhood in stitches, laughing over his speech, accent and antics playing in the snow. I mean, he had seen snow but never heaps of snow! Here's a sample: On the way to the golf course to go sledding, we stopped in town to buy a cheap sled or coaster. It was a like a thick piece of plastic that you could roll up for storage. My hometown is on a steep hill, so you learn to park accordingly and you learn the penguin way of walking in the Winter so you don't slide all the way down Main street on your keister. We come out of the hardware store and he says he's going to try that coaster on the sidewalk and slide down to the car. "NOooooo! Don't do that", I yell, as he sits on that slippery piece of plastic and takes off. OMG! A minute later he has flown off the sidewalk and is wedged under a parked car! People, after seeing he's OK, are standing there laughing their butts off, as he exclaims, "Well, ah declare! Ah didn't know it was gone take off like that!!" Whoowee what a ride!" We get him out from under the car and we head to my Grandma's house which sits by a tee-off on a high hill on the golf course, making it the favorite place for kids in town to go sledding. It's a nice sunny day and the hill is crowded as we trudge up and stand in line awaiting our turn to slide down. Now again, CJ doesn't bother to wait and listen to me, nope, he unfolds that piece of plastic, jumps on and away he goes! This time the yell is, "Y'all look out!! Move Y'all!! Whoa, Y'all look out!!!", as he literally flies down the hill, scattering kids and adults in his path. He comes to a halt in my Grandma's yard, up under the clothes lines. Grandma is in the kitchen window, shaking her head and laughing. I am red faced and refuse to go back up the hill after running down to make sure he stays put. I worry for the safety of the kids who are all laughing and pointing to the crazy "hillbilly guy" who just cleared the hill and went for a heck of a ride. It was also during this week end that I learned the difference in what things are called. We had a local hill for sledding near our Location ( a Location is a number of houses together in a country spot, we had 15 houses). The sledding path was cleared of trees, but was very bumpy as it was on a small bluff and along the sides and at the bottom were trees. Once again, he's on that coaster and still not waiting to learn how to use your body to steer or your feet for brakes. Down he flies, catching good air over the bumps and at the end of the run, realizing he's out of room, starts to tumble and crashes to a stop in a patch of brush and pickers. He struggles up, brushing off snow and then says, "Aw man, I got briers stuck on my a**!" The kids are just doubled over laughing as he tries to remove the 'pickers' from his sleeves and pants, which are now also torn down the back seam! The kids want to know what a 'Brier' is because we call the burrs 'Pickers'. To this day when we have get togethers we laugh over the week end CJ came home with me.
I moved with CJ from Illinois to Alabama, to Tennessee and Mississippi! I learned real quick to just keep my mouth shut and try not to talk while straining to listen and figure out what all the folks were saying to me! They would do anything to get me to speak and then squeal in laughter! I had to learn real fast that you didn't ask for milk; it was sweet milk or butter milk but not just milk. Tea wasn't ice tea and there was no such thing as a cup of tea (hot tea)....it was Sweet Tea, which is actually too sweet, iced tea that you brew and then make in a gallon jar! Coffee was the same, thank goodness, except when I eventually went to New Orleans and took the offer of a cup of coffee. After spitting out the first sip, I learned what Chicory coffee was! I also learned that my POP was soda, sody pop or coke; mainly that you got a bottle of RC cola, emptied a bag of salted peanuts into it and drank it along with a Moon Pie or pack of peanut butter crackers for a snack. And, oh boy, cornbread was a trick! Now up here in the North, cornbread is yellow and sweet, cut into squares, like cake. CJ said I never made the cornbread when I cooked, so to please him, I made cornbread one evening for supper. He asked "why" I made CAKE and served it with our meal? Took a while to catch on that cornbread is white, no sugar is added and it's cooked in a black cast iron skillet and cut into wedges to be used to push veggies and greens (a whole 'nother story) onto your fork.....or you take a bite of onion, take the wedge and get a forkful of food, and then a bite of cornbread. The left over bread is saved and when you want a snack, you go get a slab of that bread, crumble it into a tall glass of sweet milk or butter milk and spoon it out! My daughter thinks it's a wonderful snack.....I still refuse to do that!! I learned, too, that a meal can be a plate of veggies and greens or peas and greens with cornbread and not meat and potatoes!!
Anyway, I could continue on for days about accents and different words and ways of doing things. MY FIL at that time always called me "Yankee" and delighted in laughing over my accent and ways. I live back near home now after a long time in the South but my daughter is a true Southern Belle and has remained in the South all of her life except for a short time when I brought her to "da U.P." and attempted to make her into a Yooper. My brother and a friend came down to Alabama and picked us (my daughter and I) up. During the long trip back home, the two guys tried to teach DD how to talk Yooper! We laughed 'til we cried teaching her how to speak: the alphabet... A,eh...B,eh....C,eh....D,eh! She let them bring her through the alphabet several times and then she looks at my brother all serious and says, OK, y'all, I get it! And do the animals go.... moo,eh.....meow,eh....tweet tweet,eh? That was when my brother learned my little Southern Belle was a step ahead of him! She was a instant hit at school, sort of. All the teachers adored her accent when they could understand her and she had all the little boys swooning over her, making it a bit hard to befriend the girls! It all worked out but in the end she opted to go back to the South. Coming to the cold U.P. was too much of a change for her to handle.
Now she calls me and I still have to ask her to repeat things because she definitely has that Southern drawl!!! Her favorite trick is to get me to talking and then put me on speaker for her friends to hear her Yankee mother!!