Martin of Charleston, West Virginia, was a
beloved friend, Membership Chair, Editor, and
Group Moderator of Southern Humorists. She was a
woman of many talents, writing humor being just
one of them. Marta completed her final writing
assignment May 20, 2006. and has been called to
a higher position. She is sadly missed by all of
us who enjoyed her wonderful sense of humor and
whose lives were enriched through knowing her.
By: Marta Martin © 2005 All Rights Reserved
don't recall the exact moment I became a
Southerner though my older sister will tell you
that my brother and I were Southerners at birth.
We were born in Pittsburgh. Southern
Pennsylvania, of course. It might help if you
knew my life was a study in contrasts. I married
a Southerner named Grant. I can still see my
Uncle Miles rolling his eyes at the irony.
brother left home soon after college graduation
and found what made him comfortable----a pair of
cowboy boots, a Tanya Tucker cassette and a job
coaching college football.
my life I wanted to go to Clemson. It was simply
an urge. My mother forbade me to go so far from
home. Instead I wound up at a small private
school in Ohio. I began working country radio my
sophomore year of college. Callers on the
request line said, "Where are you from?
Arkansas?" Maybe I was born with a drawl.
sister, meanwhile, took cooking classes and
learned to make delicate swans out of puff
pastry. She filled them with crabmeat. I never
did understand all the formality in her life.
Twenty some years later we still reside on
opposite ends of the spectrum and the
Mason-Dixon line. She says, "po-tah-toe"
and I say "grits".
it goes without saying that I learned the most
from a true Southerner; that bastard I married.
I can remember being tickled to hear him say the
name of the fast food restaurant where I had
worked as a teenager. "You worked for
I say?" he replied, eyes twinkling. Oh,
that Southern charm.
of him I learned to make Dirty Rice, Pralines,
Etouffe, Gumbo and Beignets. His family was
entrenched so deep in the south that their thick
drawls could barely wrap themselves around the
"R" in my name. From these people I
You should go to Target. They're having beaucoup
sales right now. It became déclassé to say
many or "a lot". Why not speak French
if you can?
My elderly mother, born in Croatia, battling an
organic brain disorder, cocked her head at me
and said, "Vat is reckon?" She began
tuning me out when I came home to visit her. I
realize now we were no longer speaking the same
language in more ways than one.
also taught me the fine art of might-could and
might-should. Just in case one of those words
wasn't enough, why not use both? "We
might-could make the 7 o'clock movie if we left
now." Or "You might-should take your
jacket. It's supposed to get cold."
there are those fine expressions you use when
you just don't know what else to say. They're
I'll be." That should be WELL, I'll be--but
after a while that old W just drops off. You
should use it when the course of events
surprises you. Events that are unfortunate and
leave you at a loss for words will require a
blessing. Bless your heart! Oh, bless his heart.
When the victims of sad or unfortunate events
are very young or small, we go one better.
"Ah, love its' heart!" It doesn't
matter that the gender of the baby has well been
determined by its' birth. You will love ITS'
heart until he or she walks and talks.
expression I have fondly made my own is
"Have at it" ...it sorta means go
ahead you dumbass-it don't matter how many times
I've said no-you're gonna do it anyway. Or quite
simply, "be my guest". Can I try out
your new chainsaw? Have at it.
year marks my 23rd year as a Southerner. Three
of my children are natives. I talked with a
college friend last week who shrieked with
laughter when I called. "You are such a
hick," he said. This morning I listened to
a phone message I left a colleague at work. He's
right. I sound like one of those damn Hee Haw
Honeys. Ell, I'll be!
in a place where death
has no dominion
A craggy mountainside
A moonlit beach
Even a cypress swamp
We still have these
a glimpse of what
paradise must be
But the sun shines less brightly
The moon is hiding
The fog hangs heavy
An angel has gone home
from West Virginia
where the sun doesn't always shine
but the memory of our Marta always
by Ben Baker 2006