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Gone With The Wind


href=””>Use of “sir” and “ma’am” is dying out among
the young, even here in Texas.
Man, I hate to see this. We try so hard
to teach our kids to use these forms, but it seems like few if any of their
friends do, or anybody else in this culture. I cringe when I hear our five
year old boy on the phone with my folks down in small-town Louisiana,
answering their questions with a mere “yes.” Down there, “yes ma’am” and
“yes sir” is still relatively commonplace, and they surely think we’re
falling down on the job by failing to instill the same in our kids. It’s
very hard, though, to make this work when the surrounding culture doesn’t
support you.

Another pet peeve of mine: grown-ups who expect your kids to call them by
their first names. I hate that overfamiliarity between the generations. An
interesting difference between what I see in Dallas and what I grew up with
in south Louisiana. In Dallas, kids of my wife’s generation grew up calling
their elders by their last names, e.g., “Mrs. Miller.” Where I’m from, the
polite thing to do was to put “Miss” (even for a married woman) or “Mr.” in
front of the other person’s first name, e.g. “Miss Mamie,” “Mr. Charlie.” It
still preserved a certain formality, but was also warmly familiar. Which is
lovely, I think.

When I was 8, they began building a nuclear power plant in my hometown, and
a bunch of working-class folks from the North moved to town to help build
it. The schools were flooded with Yankee chirren who called grown-ups by
their first names!
No kidding, we Southern kids thought this was
unspeakably barbaric. It was as if they’d waltzed into town with a bone
through their noses. And now the whole dadgum country is being Yankeefied. I
know this will sound too, too precious to you non-Southerners, but I’m
betting that Southern readers (and Byron York) know exactly what I’m talking


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