From Azaleas to Zydeco: My 4,600-Mile Journey Through the South

From Azaleas to Zydeco: My 4,600-Mile Journey Through the South

by Mark W. Nichols


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Inspired by a 1937 map and travelogue of a newspaperman’s tour, author Mark W. Nichols embarked on his own long journey into the unique cities of the South. En route he met beekeepers, cheese makers, crawfish “bawlers,” duck callers, and a licensed alligator hunter, as well as entrepreneurs and governors. His keen observations encompass the southern states from Virginia to Arkansas and points south, and he unpacks the unique qualities of every city he visits. “It’s easy to say that getting to meet so many interesting and wonderful people was the best part of the journey—because it’s true,” Nichols writes. “I know there are friendly people everywhere, but southern friendliness is different.” His story embraces a wealth of southern charm from local characters, folklore, and customs to food, music, and dancing. Besides being just plain fun to read, Nichols’s account of his journey gives readers a true taste of the flavor of the evolving modern South.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935106654
Publisher: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Publication date: 02/01/2014
Pages: 446
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Mark W. Nichols was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in economics from Hanover College in Indiana. He received his law degree from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 1977 and received an LLM from New York University in 1980. Nichols has spent most of his life in the South and now lives in Little Rock with his wife, Cheri, a historic preservationist. Their son, Will, lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 11

Introduction 14

The Third Battle of Manassas 22

Polo Place 27

Travel Notes: What's a Cavalier? 33

RVa 35

All Come to Look for America 39

Travel Notes: What's a Tar Heel? 44

Dobbies and Pout Houses 47

The Research Triangle 50

Sustainability in Greensboro 56

Trains, Furniture, and Krispy Kreme 63

Towel Town No More 67

Sister City 71

They Glue Lug Nuts on Wheels 75

Ella May's Ghost 83

America's First Civil War Battle 89

Hub-Bub in the Hub City 94

Downtown New South 99

Jerusalem Artichokes and Robert Kennedy 104

The Mountains 108

Cashiers 112

Franklin 117

The Smoky Mountains 121

Good Old Rocky Top 127

Norris, the Planned Community 134

Hard-bitten Land 139

Chattanooga Rebound 146

A Civil Misunderstanding 152

Alabama Retail 155

Alabama Wholesale 161

Driving the Natchez Trace Parkway 168

Nashville Hootenanny 172

Mississippi Embayment 181

Travel Notes: What's a Julep? 183

Day Trip to Arkansas 186

The Delta in Mississippi 195

Cosmopolitan Helena 201

Duck Gumbo 208

Meeting the Governor 216

Water, Water Everywhere 221

I'm Only 75 227

Nitta Yuma 230

A Coffee Shop in Vicksburg 234

Mississippi Praying 239

Wide Spot on Highway 28 247

Not a Soul in Sight 250

The Rose Lady Comes to Camellia Land 251

The Salon at Ravennaside 254

McDonald's Comes to St. Francisville 258

Crossing the River by Ferryboat 263

Baton Rouge, Huey Long, and the Movie Industry 266

On to Opelousas 272

Travel Notes: What's a Coon Ass? 277

Cajun vs. Coon Ass 278

Zydeco Dancing 280

Boudin, Sugar Cane Farming, and More Crawfish 284

The Road to New Orleans 291

Once the Levees Break 295

Mississippi Gulf Coast 303

Travel Notes: Beauvoir 309

Mobile 312

Hank, Biscuits, and Green Roofs 315

Forty Miles to Tuskegee 325

Fender Bender in Birmingham 330

Travel Notes: Iced or Hot? Sweet or Un? 334

Metropolitan Atlanta 337

Traveling South Georgia 343

Happy Animals. Good Cheese 350

Tallahassee 355

Ybor City 360

Cracker from Kissimmee 364

The First Coast 368

Stuck in South Georgia 371

Savannah 378

Travel Notes: Georgilina 385

Coastalitis 388

Carolina Gold 395

Flatland to Fall Line 398

Epilogue: June 2013 404

Notes on Sources 406

Sources 409

Songs from the Journey 433

Index 437

About the Author 446

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