Bonnie Osborn Briggs BBriggs at LATTE.MEMPHIS.EDU
Mon Jul 12 14:59:30 UTC 1999

I've never considered Maryland to be part of the South even though it is
farther south than Iowa.

Bonnie Briggs
The University of Memphis

"James E. Clapp" wrote:
> Kathleen Miller wrote:
> > Having been a
> > Philadelphia Yankee in "King" Edwards court during my high school years, it
> > is my recollection that there was no lack of polite forms of address. Yes
> > Ma'am was used [for] every woman from the cafeteria ladies to the vice
> > principal. It just sort of rolls off Louisianan tongues. Even at my age I
> > was called Ma'am - or in the habit of Gone with the Wind, Miss Katy - by
> > those younger.
> My first experience with southern culture came in 1956, when my family moved
> from Iowa to Maryland (suburban Washington) for a year.  In junior high
> school in Iowa we referred to our phys-ed-cum-social-studies teacher as
> "Bill."  In my first days in school in Maryland I was amazed to hear a
> student berated by the phys ed teacher because the student casually answered
> "Yeah" to a question:  "Yeah?  YEAH??!!!"  "Yes, sir," the student corrected
> himself.  But I learned that respect had its limits:  I was equally
> nonplussed when the junior high school orchestra of which I was a member took
> a school bus into DC to perform, and as the bus passed some Negro children
> (as I would have said then) walking on the sidewalk, some of my classmates
> yelled at them out the windows, "Nigger!"  Both of these linguistic and
> social phenomena were new to me.
> > I fail to see how, in just over a decade (and I do mean
> > just), the students at my alma mater could have gone from, "Yes Ma'am, I
> > did my homework" to "Yo, lady, I got yer homework right here!"
> Maybe not that extreme, and maybe not in every school; but as one who taught
> in New York City public schools in the 1960's, I know that a lot can change
> in ten years.  (Look how far the Jerry Springer show has come in ten years.)
> And in a region where certain forms of civility are as deeply ingrained as
> Kathleen indicates, I can understand a certain panic resulting from the
> change, and a feeling that some effort should be made to stem it--even if it
> is the largely symbolic step of passing an unenforceable law deploring the
> incivility of the young.  Of course I'd have voted against the law; but
> Kathleen's description of traditional Louisiana culture makes it clear why so
> many voted for it.
> James E. Clapp

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