All Southerners – especially the older ones – want to know who you are, where you’re from, who’s your daddy, what’s he do, where you go to church. In other words, when they meet you, they are asking, “Who are your people?” They don’t mean any harm; it’s in their genes to want to know the details of your “whereabouts”.

Everyone in the South knows that when you marry (or join/combine) into a family tree, you not only marry the trunk, but you also become a part of the whole tree. That includes the limbs, branches, leaves and critters that attach themselves to the tree.

In Galivant’s Ferry, no one asked me these particular questions, because they already knew about me and my people. Instead, they would get up close with their squinty eyes and wrinkled foreheads, and ask rhetorically, with tongue in cheek, “You ain’t one of them Holliday’s, are you?”

I never understood this question. How did they know who I was? I was a child and certainly didn’t know exactly who they were, but I knew we were all “family” in the countrysides of Galivant’s Ferry. We were “kinfolks” because we lived so close together geographically.

Sometimes, this question hurt my feelings. What did they mean? My parents raised me right. We were no better than anyone else, so why did I hear a sarcastic tone in some of their remarks? Sure we had this big white house with columns, big magnolia trees to climb and a big red barn, along with the country store and the fillin’ station. They thought we were rich!

This is still a mystery to me today, for one reason: To me, “rich” means a loving family, warm surroundings, security and friends, along with lots and lots of animals to hug.

I was raised by parents who lived through the Great Depression and World War II. You didn’t buy anything on credit. If you really needed it, you paid cash. Shopping for clothes was a twice a year event – a drive to Charleston, S.C., known as the Holy City, for fall/winter school clothes, and then another drive for spring/summer attire. This only occurred after you had tried on everything you owned to see what could be hemmed up, let out, or repaired.
My grandmother, Mamanche Russell, took care of all of this. After all, why spend money on a seamstress when you had one in the family? I went to public schools and was taught “everyone was born equal,” so if I ever had a birthday party, or end-of-year swimming party, the whole class would be invited. Back then, it was very rare to have a pool in your backyard.

I was a complete tomboy, climbing trees, riding ponies and donkeys, playing in the big red barn, dragging behind wagons and shooting BB guns. I was always covered in scabs, scars and bruises, and broken bones were common. If you didn’t play outside, you didn’t have anything to do. I remember looking at my scabby legs in puberty and thinking, Will I every have pretty legs with no scabs or bruises? I still don’t have them today… and I am still a tomboy.

My best friend was my first cousin, Judson, who was a year older. We were neighbors and did everything together. We didn’t have a choice. Not that it mattered – neither of us would have had it any other way. Judson taught me how to shoot guns, climb trees, and build pine thicket huts and tree houses. Later, he taught me some other things (which I’ll get into later). He was my hero. Living out in the country, with no long distance phone lines and no drivers licenses, we were glued at the waist – and it was OK by me!

Now, before I go any further down my personal memories of the “South I Knew,” it is important for you to know more about your family roots – which, in many ways, speak to the wide roots that make the South such a hospitable and desirable place for people to visit and live.

You three kids are a part of the fifth generation to live in Galivant’s Ferry. Your forefathers lived and died here, not a half-mile from our home. That is rare. How could five generations stay in the same home place – much less county, vicinity, or small township?

Let’s look back into time to see how our forebears arrived here, why they stayed, and how they were we able to remain and prosper – and dribble some of those good tidings down to us. To top it off, why in the world would anybody want to isolate themselves and live here?

You will find in these reminiscences not only your family history, but much of the history of the South, and all of the reasons why this will forever be the home of my heart – the heart I give to you.