A Southern Memory

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A Southern Memory

by Robert Flournoy
Southern Cultures, Vol. 10, No. 1: Spring 2004

"'Yessir, pretty fine shootin', especially as it appears these birds were flying upside down.'"

I never know what to say when someone asks me where I am from. I was born in Memphis and the family moved before I was one. By the time I was six we had managed to live in four different states, finally to wind up in El Paso, Texas, where my father was sent in 1952 after he came back from Korea. He was a career military officer. We were to move many times after the Texas assignment, traveling the world. Home was the house where we lived. That was fine, but my parents knew that we needed family roots and a sense of place that was more permanent than our transient lifestyle afforded. So, in the days before interstate highways and air-conditioned automobiles, we loaded up the family car every summer and drove to Alabama and my grandparents’ farm. Two thousand miles roundtrip across Texas in the summer, always gloriously welcomed by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. These are the happiest memories of my life. I once reminisced with my mother about one of those trips when both of my dad’s brothers, their wives, and about six cousins were also present for a week in that little farmhouse. She gave me a raised eyebrow when I waxed sentimental about the beauty of that time. My aunts, I later learned, also would have raised their eyebrows. But for me it had been pure bliss. I was ten years old on that visit, and something wonderful happened.