By the Bucketful

by Gary Wright

Some memories are too painful to remember,

even the first time.

The Southern Bucket List

Bucket lists are things that you really want to do before you–well—kick the bucket. In other words, things, however childish or outlandish, that you’ve always wanted to do, see, or act out before you go. Modern therapists say that acting out such long-held notions, or even thinking about them or writing them down, is therapeutic. They help you to sort or filter out the obtuse and the veneer of the world to get down to the basic fundamentals of your psyche. It’s sort of like putting a pie in the face of your worst enemy, blowing up the building where you hated to work for forty years, or simply feeling the sand between your toes.

The term and the idea behind it became popularized in American culture after the movie, The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, premiered in 2008. Here are more of my suggestions for bucket lists for the child-like, Southern red-neck in all of us. These are things that everyone can do, and might even be the better for it. Remember, it’s never too early to begin you bucket list. Also, it is never too late to start a bucket list. Wait! Scratch that last sentence.

Here, then are a few of my suggestions for the true Southern bucket list:

Lake Jordan

Watch a late summer sunset on Lake Jordan, Alabama. The sky is clouded with wispy, ghost look-alikes, painted with hues of orange, red and gold. It’s one of the sweetest memories of your raisin’. Thinking back now, I can still remember the greenery in the background of the ever-present kudzu and the entire town that it took over, causing all the inhabitants to flee for their lives. It’s said that a few were never actually accounted for. That childhood memory still brings tears to my eyes.

Watch John Boy and Billy on the radio. They can be found on the AM dial of any Southern radio putting on the Big Show. They’re two country boys who could be anybody’s cousins or neighbors—or whatever. They’re experts on practically any subject that happens to come up, and if you don’t believe me, just ask them. Their trusty side-kick, Robert D. Raiford, is truly a hold-over from Andy Rooney, with his down-home humor and ups-scale passion for his beliefs and monologues. I really doubt that these homey, artful broadcasts can actually get very far north through the Iron Curtain—er, the Mason-Dixon Line.

Dig for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro, Arkansas. It is the only place outside of South Africa where natural diamonds are actually found in the wild. It consists of a 37-acre plowed field where tourists, for a modest entry fee, can dig to their hearts content for the entire day. Diamonds are regularly found and taken home by tourists, including ‘the Uncle Sam,’ which weighed in at over 40 carats. Not everyone can be that lucky, however, a little exercise, fresh air and sunshine has never been known to add misery to those lucky enough to take home a tiny bauble to show for their day’s work. Over 75,000 diamonds have been found there since its discovery in 1906. So, yes, Virginia, there really are diamonds in Arkansas.

Gullah proverb

Visit the Gullah People of coastal Georgia and South Carolina. These truly unique people are descendants of African slaves from West Africa, and many of their traditions and much of their culture and language still survive. Their food, language and customs are a mixture of Creole, Native American and their native African roots. In fact, the name Gullah is believed to originate from Angola in Africa from whence many of the slaves came. Many traditional Southern terms owe their existence to the Gullahs such as gumbo, okra, goobers (peanuts,) the Gullah religious shout, Bruh Rabbit and similar clever animal stories. Perhaps the most famous of all the Gullah gifts to the South is their manner of speaking. Its precise, though somewhat odd sound, has contributed to modern-day Ebonics.

appalachian mountains

Hear the purest form of spoken English in the United States in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. This dialect has been called a corrupted version of English, distorted by ignorance and time, however, just the opposite is true. It is, in fact archaic. Many of the expressions from the area could well have been the very words of the greatest English authors: Alfred, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the men who wrote the King James Version of the Bible.

The origin of this Southern mountain dialect, as it is called by linguists, can be narrowed down to the days of the first Queen Elizabeth, with a mixture of early Scottish and even some Gaelic. Through years of isolation from the rest of civilization, because of an innate mistrust of the outside world, Appalachian people retain the speech of nearly pure and certainly picturesque English speech, culture and mannerisms.

These are a few of my thoughts on Southern bucket lists, and for more bucket list suggestions check out my previous article here:

Lake Jordan sunset is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to

Gullah Proverb is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to

Appalachian Mountains is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to