Saturday, March 19, 2005

On the Road Again

Well my whirlwind tour of the Southeastern United States is almost complete, and I have seen the light... spring training baseball. Everything that is great about the game - the outdoors, the tradition, the hope that spring naturally brings - is on full display, easily accessible AND affordable to the average fan. With the baseball steroids scandal dominating the headlines these days, it's refreshing to see the game as it was meant to be.

Some observations from the road:

(1): Florida really is a big retirement home, but it's easy to see why.

(2): South Carolina is, um, South Carolina. On full flag poles out front, one barbecue restaurant proudly displayed the flags of all the confederate states and, of course, had the rebel battle flag flying high over all of them. We also saw a cadet from, presumably, The Citadel. The surprising thing about this however, wasn't that he was eating barbecue with his father. What was surprising was the color of his uniform - gray - just like the pictures of Confederate soldiers on the walls.

Why was I struck by this? Cadets in my home state of Texas - also a former Confederate state - where uniforms also. Their fatigues, however, are khakies, and their dress is dark green.

(3): Charleston, South Carolina, however, is a treat. The historic city center is filled with stunning Southern homes, beautifully restored and preserved. It's like a cleaner New Orleans-light, dripping with history.

(4): We saw numerous rebel flag bumper stickers on cars from Virginia to Florida (less so in VA and FL). Our favorite: "Heritage, not Hate." As my friend tellingly observed in a rather disgusted manner: "You would never see that $@*# in Houston."

(5): I can't absolve Virginia too much, though. It was, after all, the home of the "Stonewall Jackson Shrine." Seriously. It's right there off of I-95, with a big, brown (and official) highway sign telling you that it is there. Now don't get me wrong: I am making no judgments here about Stonewall Jackson or whether or not he merits historical recognition publically. But a shrine? Calling it that is a little scary, even it is was the place where the famous General died.

(5): I knew I was back in the Bible Belt when at a Dunkin Donuts in Orlando one morning I struck up a conversation with the man behind me in line. After talking about fishing in the Gulf and his 40 year career as an egg farmer in Michigan, the man asked me - completely randomly I might add - "Son, are you a Christian?" More on this later.


At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Andrew said...

less so in VA and FL

A teacher I know in a metropolitan Florida high school made some comments about the Confederate battle flag in her American history class.

She then had to deal with an irate parent who was incensed that "you Yankees come down here and fill our kids heads with this garbage and try to change our way of life. I never needed no history or school and I don't see why my daughter should be forced to learn about Columbus and all that crap. It's you liberal Yankees that force Our kids go to school. All I know is that you'll be surprised when you go to Heaven and see God wearing a rebel flag."

At 6:03 AM, Blogger Marcus said...

Have to admit. "Surprise" doesn't half say it.



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