And I’m Not Just Whistlin’ Dixie

My mother said a lot of things. Lots of these things she said over and over. She had sayings, and references to old jokes, and bits of songs. Sometimes I hear my mother’s voice coming out of my mouth. 

Once I thought I would be clever and write down some of my mother’s sayings. Wouldn’t that be a charming momento?  I resolved to make a list. 

It was not a compliment to my mother. When I wrote them down, they mostly sounded crude. 

  • If he had a brain, it would rattle. 
  • I ought to knock you into the middle of next week. 
  • He doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. (One of my personal favorites.)
  • He’s tighter than Dick’s hatband.
  • Fart’s finder stinks behind her. 
  • Who does she think she is? Miss Astor?

She also specialized in singing pieces of songs. 

“It looks like rain

On Cherry Blossom Lane.

The sunshine of your smile’s

No longer there. 

That was all she ever sang of that song. I suppose she didn’t know any more of it. There was a fair amount of things being started and never finished, like partial sets of dishes and the first few volumes of encyclopedias. We could write a good report for school as long as the subject began with the letters A or B. 

But that’s the way it was. I didn’t question it. 

If someone made a statement that was profound, she might declare, “And you’re not just whistlin’ Dixie.”

Now how can you not understand plain English like that? 


I remember in high school, when I was in the band, we gave a concert for the school during school hours in the auditorium. One of the pieces was a composition by a now-forgotten-by-me composer. What I will never forget is that this particular composition was a collection of Southern songs, bits and pieces of them segued together. One line of Dixie was woven in: “Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton.” Just that one line, and this was an instrumental piece, so there was no singing, but everyone knew the words. 

An element of the popular kids rose as one, cheering and waving. The entire black population rose and left the auditorium. 

There was a commotion afterward about what happened. It was a confusing time. I was usually a little behind in my understanding of things in general, yet I knew enough that those black kids were offended, even though we didn’t live in a cotton-producing area. 


Once, when the children were small, we had gone to see my parents. My mother had a little Confederate flag in a pencil cup on the dining table. We had never had any Confederate symbols in the house while growing up. I asked her what this was about. She said that she wanted to join the UDC. I didn’t catch the lingo, and she explained that it stood for the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and that she had sent off for her grandfather’s Civil War record. 


The next time I went to see her, which was few and far between, the Confederate flag was stuck in a little flower pot on the back porch. She said that she got her great-grandfather’s file, and there were all these references to the GAR. She found out that this meant she couldn’t join the UDC, because the GAR was the Grand Army of the Republic, and her ancestor? Was a *Yankee*. 

This past Saturday, I attended a grave-marking service for Thomas and Christopher Henry Bateson at Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. Christopher died in 1870 and Thomas in 1877, and they have waited patiently in unmarked graves since then. 

In this article from the Examiner:

In 1929, U.S. Congress further enacted law to authorize the placement of headstones over graves of Confederate soldiers who served in the Confederate army and directed the War Department to preserve in the records of the War Department of those men and where they were buried.
In 1958, U.S. Congress declared that anyone who served in the Confederate States of America, whether army or navy, was entitled to the same Civil War pension as they would have received if they had served in the military forces of the United States.
Current federal code, Title 38, says that the term “Civil War veteran” includes persons who served in the military of naval forces of the Confederate States of America.

Thank you, Savannah Chapter #2, United Daughters of the Confederacy.
And I’m just not whistlin’ Dixie. 


2 Responses to “And I’m Not Just Whistlin’ Dixie”

  1. Michael A. Patrizio Says:

    Ruth how do I get in on your blog….. I am a sort of “Digilog” kinda guy. Raised in an analog world trying to hang on as the digital one races past me….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ruth Rawls Says:

      Mr. Patrizio! Welcome to the blog! Do you want to subscribe to the blog? There should be a sidebar on the right with a feature that allows you to subscribe by email. No sidebar? Click on the main heading that says “ruthrawls’s blog” and that should take you to a main page with a sidebar.


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