How Do You Know When Your in Dixie

Greetings from the South Bank of the Ohio River: Paducah Kentucky.

I used to come down to Paducah once a year or so to going fishing in Kentucky Lake with a good friend of mine.  Crossing the Ohio is traditionally the line that indicates you’re in the South.

I’d say Mason Dixon Line but technically that wouldn’t be accurate and you know I have to be accurate. Comes right after being “right” and washing my hands on the list of things I need to get done every day 20 minutes.

Chuck Mason and Jerry Dixon didn’t survey their line past the border with Pennsylvania. Just so you can be as right as I am, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were charted by the Crown to denote the boundaries between Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware, which were confusing at the that time, and frankly still are.

Contrary to what you may have been though in history class, here’s what the Mason-Dixon line was not; the line separating slave states from free states. Delaware, a slave state was north of the line, as was New Jersey. Technically there were salves in New Jersey until 1865. And while New Jersey made slavery illegal in 1846 the state redefined former slaves as “Apprentices for Life” to their “former” masters, and was able to keep the institution defacto intact until the end of the Civil War. Thanks for nothing eh?

I have a hard time figuring out where the South actually starts. If you go by accent alone I’d put the line somewhere just south Champagne Illinois and Indianapolis Indiana. By the time you get to Carbondale in southern Illinois, it’s all drawl.

Eric likes to use Chic-Fil-A as in indicator. With their latest expansion however that’s going to put the line at about 156th street in Apple Valley Minnesota, new Chic-Fil-A opens in the Cub parking lot this year. Feels like that’s a little far north, there’s a drawl there alright, but not the right drawl don’t ya know.

I think Waffle House might be a better restaurant indicator. I don’t really see a lot of them until we’re into Kentucky. Might not work in Ohio however. Maybe it’s density of Waffle houses. When you start seeing waffle houses on all four corners of an intersection you know you’re in Dixie.

Country Music? How about percentage of Baptists vs. Lutherans? Kudzu? While demographically it makes sense but it’s hard to verify. You’d have to ask people on the street where they go to church.

What I need is some indicator that’s as easy to interpret as it is accurate.

And I think I have one. The Racc-a-dillo Line. As you head south I’ve noticed there’s a change in road kill that happens somewhere around southern Kentucky. The road kill of choice begins to switch from raccoons to armadillos. When you see you’re first Hoover Hog you’re in the Mid-South. When you start seeing them almost exclusively, welcome to Dixie.     

By the same token, when driving north and you start to see entire families of raccoons littering the shoulder, welcome to the Northland.

 

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “How Do You Know When Your in Dixie

  1. Paducah, KY acts as the gateway to the south for me. We’ve passed that way many times in the past couple of years and actually spent some time there this spring.
    I like your idea of a Racc-a-dillo Line but for me the true Dixie indicator is when you hit the areas with Southbound and Northbound Waffle Houses across the street from each other. Then you know…Dixie, we are in you.

  2. Tim

    I agree with your Champaign/Indianapolis line idea. Not necessarily the true South, but definitely Southish at that point. Indy to me always has felt like a southern city rather than a Midwest one. I don’t think it’s a straight line, though, since I don’t see St. Louis as part of the South per se.

  3. In my mind, it is the south when I have to ask to have the waitress repeat what she has said…..it takes a while for my northern ear to adjust to the foreign language of “Southern”.

Lemmie know what you think..

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