While we live in eastern North Carolina (the Atlantic Ocean is several hundred yards South of us) the coast of our state has an eclectic citizenry.   Lots of retirees, northern brothers,  and an influx of in-state folks.  Lots of folks moving our way.   The oldest and most unique locals are the “hoi toiders” ( or high tiders ).   These “down easterners”  refer to Kinston, N.C.  as the west.    They have their own dialect and vocabulary. “Dit-dotters” are tourists who come and go back.  “Ding-batters” come and, alas, stay.   Local lingo contends ‘…my lord, honey, they must leave their brains on the other ” soide ” ( side ) of the bridges”

We are also near Camp Lejeune or the Marine Base.   Having worked in two colleges my  entire 40 work years, some of my friends call me “Coach”, or sometimes “Professor”.  I  once asked a friend who had moved to Chapel Hill,  N.C.  how they liked it?   He replied “…not much—if you don’t have a PH.D.  or have a dozen books published,  most of them won’t have anything to do with you.   Some have contended the worst thing about being rich was you had to deal with other rich people.   My coaching colleagues put too much value on winning, perhaps.  Down here status often depends on military rank, noted careers.   I guess on Wall Street and in a lot  America,  it’s is money that does the talking.

While a bumper sticker in the piedmont might read ” MY CHILD IS  AN HONOR STUDENT”,  down here you could just as well see “MY BOY CAN WHIP THE CRAP OUT OF YOU HONOR STUDENT”.

I am not inclined to deny or resent “Coach”,  or having taught for a long time.  Nor do I get out of sorts at “here comes the (“liberal”, or “Obama”, or “the college man”, etc.).   I try not to respond , much as my oldest Son advised.   Last week a quote got my attention:   “The worst argument against Democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter”  (Churchill?).   And  “…if you think education is expensive,  try ignorance.” If one thinks “liberal”  (freedom) is a bad word,  and the misspent  and mismanaged money on war in this decade has been “conservative” —why argue?

So—when one got over the line recently (” Coach, you have spent too much time around colleges”)  it just blurted out of me.   I asked him if he had any any grandchildren?  OH YES.  Tell me about them, I continued.  I got the usual “my goose is a swan” answers one gets from any grandparent .  Goes  somewhat like these cliches:  ” He reads two grade levels above his class. ” Or, ” She makes all A’s! “.   “I don’t know where he gets it—must be his Mother. ”  And others we all know, if we ask any grandparent.   Then he took a breath.

Quickly  I pointed out that I had never heard any of  THESE comments from a parent or grandparent:   “You know he is the dumbest little son of a gun in his class!”   or, “She certainly never made an A!” or, “…if he flunks the eight grade one more time he’ll be 16, and I think I HAVE GOT HIM TALKED INTO QUITTING FOR GOOD!’ or, ” maybe the 4th grade will be shoe-tying and potty-trained year.

He looked at me funny but  didn’t say anything.  I  don’t know whether he got it or not.

“Call your next case”.   Chub Seawell,  Carthage, N.C. —1955

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