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Miss Hildreth Wore Brown: Anecdotes of a Southern Belle

Miss Hildreth Wore Brown: Anecdotes of a Southern Belle

by Olivia deBelle Byrd
Miss Hildreth Wore Brown: Anecdotes of a Southern Belle

Miss Hildreth Wore Brown: Anecdotes of a Southern Belle

by Olivia deBelle Byrd


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While Olivia deBelle Byrd was repeating one of her many Southern stories for the umpteenth time, her long-suffering husband looked at her with glazed over eyes and said,“Why don’t you write this stuff down?” Thus was born Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle. If the genesis for a book is to shut your wife up, I guess that’s as good as any.  On top of that, Olivia’s mother had burdened her with one of those Southern middle names kids love to make fun.  To see “deBelle” printed on the front of a book seemed vindication for all the childhood teasing.  With storytelling written in the finest Southern tradition from the soap operas of Chandler Street in the quaint town of Gainesville, Georgia, to a country store on the Alabama state line, Oliviade Belle Byrd delves with wit and amusement into the world of the Deep South with all its unique idiosyncrasies and colloquialisms.  The characters who dance across the pages range from Great-Aunt LottieMae, who is as “old-fashioned and opinionated as the day is long,” to Mrs. Brewton, who calls everyone “dahling” whether they are darling or not, to Isabella with her penchant for mint juleps and drama.  Humorous anecdotes from a Christmas coffee, where one can converse with a lady who has Christmas trees with blinking lights dangling from her ears, to Sunday church,where a mink coat is mistaken for possum, will delight Southerners and baffle many a non-Southerner. There is the proverbial Southern beauty pageant, where even a six-month-old can win a tiara, to a funeral faux pas of the iron clad Southern rule—one never wears white after Labor Day and, dear gussy, most certainly not to a funeral.  Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle is guaranteed to provide an afternoon of laugh-out-loud reading and hilarious enjoyment.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781600377488
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication date: 05/01/2010
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 398,417
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Olivia deBelle Byrd was born and bred in the South. She is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College and is a Kappa Delta. She resides in Panama City, Florida, with her husband Tommy and is the proud mother of Tommy Jr. and Elizabeth.



Read an Excerpt


Miss Hildreth Wore Brown

* * *

After many years away, one of my best friends recently moved back home to her small Southern town. One of her first duties was to accompany her mother to a funeral. Now funerals in the South are a serious business. They entail prodigious amounts of food, flowers, and family. My friend's mother is one of the greatest Southern ladies I have ever encountered. To be around her is to be in a perpetual state of amusement. One of her best friends and bridge partners, Miss Hildreth, had died. In the South, another important part of the funeral process is the viewing. You visit the funeral home, where there is an open casket, to pay your respects. Personally, I think the viewing ritual is unfair to the dead. Think about it. No matter what people say about you, you can't defend yourself. As my friend and her mother approached the casket, her mother looked down, threw her hands to her face, and exclaimed, "Oh dear Lawd! They put Miss Hildreth in brown. Brown is not her color. What were they thinking? Oh, Lawd!"

As my friend tells it, "It's so good to be back home. Is there any place like the South?"


* * *

I got exactly two spankings growing up. That's one more than my daughter got and 3,254 less than my son. I was reading an article in Ladies Home Journal that suggested you ask your children how you disciplined them. When I asked my daughter, she replied, "We sat down and talked about what I had done wrong, the consequences, and what a fair punishment would be." Well, I will have to admit, at this point, I was patting myself on the back thinking mother-of-the-year award. My son sauntered in and I asked him. He shrugged and answered, "You beat the crap out of me." So maybe not mother-of-the-year award. Before anyone calls the Department of Family Services and the child abuse investigators, my son does exaggerate — mightily. In fact, he is the king of hyperbole. I'm not here to argue the pros and cons of spanking, but when I grew up in the Old South the absolute cardinal sin was "sassin'" — the accounting of my two punishments. You did not under any circumstances talk back to your elders. Insolence in any form or fashion was not to be tolerated. It guaranteed a swift retribution normally in the form of a spanking.

I was in the grocery store the other day and a child of about three was begging his mother for a candy bar. Now I realize the candy aisle is a great temptation for a three-year-old but, in my way of thinking, you can't rid the world of all temptation so you may as well deal with it. For the umpteenth time, this young mother had very patiently — as the new generation of mothers is wont to do — told this little fellow he could not have the candy bar. She even tried to tell him why, using all the new techniques of child discipline floating around out there. Finally, he stomped his little foot and screamed, "No, I'm not listening to you!" and grabbed the candy bar. I thought, "O dear gussy, the wrath of God is about to descend on this little tot." I'm thinking murder on Aisle 10 of the Winn Dixie. Right? Wrong! In an exasperated voice the mother said, "Oh, all right, you can have it." I'm not lying. She actually said those words. The holy terror stuffed the candy in his mouth and three minutes later was begging for something else. I mean, why not? It worked so well the first time, he may as well go for the whole store.

Now I am certainly no authority on child discipline. My children erred in many and sundry ways and I often let them get away with things, but sassin' was not one of them. My generation learned early and thoroughly the no sassin' rule, and we felt it our birthright to pass it on to future generations. So, may I make a suggestion to all you young mothers out there since I expect you pretty much stick to the Ten Commandments, this being the Bible Belt and all. I exhort you to add "Thou Shalt Not Sass" to the list. It will save you heartbreak in the future and add years to your life.

Speaking of discipline, my favorite story comes from a friend who went temporarily insane and bore three children in four years. They were on a trip and it had been an especially trying twenty-four hours. The three cherubs were seated in the back of the car furiously trading insults when my friend finally snapped. She whipped around and pointing at each of them in turn said emphatically, "I hate you! I hate you! and I hate you!" Granted, this may not be the most positive form of discipline, but it worked. They are now three delightful adults with children of their own and they still talk about that momentous moment.

Another incident along these lines occurred on a trip with our young son. While we were traveling in the car, his behavior was becoming less and less desirable. Finally my son's shenanigans had gotten on my husband's last nerve, so he pulled the car onto the shoulder of the highway. As we had been on the road for some time, my husband had unbuckled his slacks to be more comfortable. He jumped out of the car — I assume to do combat with our son — and his pants fell down! I'm here to tell you, your sense of authority is greatly compromised when you are standing on the side of the road with your pants in a pile around your ankles.

While I am dishing out advice here, I want to throw in some about gratitude. When my son was ten, I accompanied him to a birthday party for one of his classmates. The birthday boy got a trillion dollar watch from his parents and immediately began whining because it lacked some particular feature. His mother clucked over him saying, "It's okay. We'll return this one and get you the watch you want." When we got in the car, I told my son if he ever acted that way I would take back every birthday gift he ever got and every one he was ever going to get. I mean even if you don't like a gift, you can show gratitude for the effort. In the South, in my day, gratitude was beaten into you. Nothing wrong with that I say!

Thank You Notes

* * *

I'll admit it. I have an obsession about writing thank you notes. I assume it's a Southern thing. My children swear I made them write a thank you note to our obstetrician for delivering them, all within twenty-four hours. Such hyperbole! I gave them a week. My all-time favorite thank you note came from a young bride whom we had given a fondue pot. She wrote, "Thank you for the nice gift. We have always wanted a pot of our own." In her defense, at least she wrote a thank-you note. Some of the ones I receive these days are scary. I expect to get one written on toilet paper any day now. When it comes to wedding gifts, I say if you're too busy to write thank you notes, you're too busy to get married.

I, for one, think the younger generation depends on computers entirely too much for this sort of thing. The other day my son actually wrote me a handwritten thank you note for a favor I had done for him. I'll admit I was mightily impressed. But he misspelled a word, and being a mother and a teacher, I felt it my obligation to point it out. To which he replied, "Funny, I wonder why spell check didn't catch that?"

Speaking of spell check, I really am totally dysfunctional when it comes to technology. The first time I tried to type a manuscript on the computer my son walked in while I was measuring the screen with a ruler. He totally fell out. Between gales of laughter he howled, "Why didn't Microsoft think of that? They could have included a ruler in every software package." Seems I was trying to center the title and all you had to do was click one little icon. Who knows these things anyway?

To illustrate how much stock I put in appropriate correspondence, one of my greatest compliments occurred when a good friend of my parents died. She came from a long line of grande dames. I was out of town and upon my return wrote the family a note of condolence. Her sister personally phoned me to express her thanks for the correspondence and to tell me how "beautifully executed" it was. I have to admit, happenstances like that just make me love the South!

I am obsessive about cards too. My husband wishes he had bought stock in Hallmark years ago. He says we could have retired by now.

After my daughter had been home visiting one weekend, the phone rang late Sunday night and she said, "Mom, I just walked into my apartment and was going through my mail. I left you approximately seven hours ago and my apartment is 1000 miles away. I just opened a card from you telling me how good I looked and how much fun we had this past weekend. Mom, when exactly did you mail this card?"

"Okay, okay, so maybe I did mail it before you ever got here. But I knew you would look good because you always do. And I knew we would have fun because we always have fun." "Mom, I am not planning a wedding for the simple fact that I don't have a boyfriend. And because I'm not planning a wedding, I haven't picked out my china, silver, or crystal. But would it make you happy if I went ahead and wrote thank you notes for the wedding gifts I am going to receive?"

Oh the euphoria! She is my daughter after all.

Now my daughter does have a boyfriend and he was up for partner in his law firm. I had asked her to send me his mailing address. Knowing my penchant for cards and promptness, she sent me his address and added, in I thought a rather sarcastic tone, "Please wait until he actually makes partner before you send him a congratulations card." Not to be outdone, I wrote back, "Too late ... congrats note already on its way ... if he doesn't make partner just tell him to send it back. ... Love, Mom."

Coffees And Coffee

* * *

I'm not positive about this (not having done the research) but I believe the morning social we call a coffee is a unique tradition of the South. A coffee is when a group of women get together to meet and greet a new bride, a pregnant bride (or these days maybe not yet a bride), a newcomer to town, a celebrity (which in our city would be the mayor's third cousin far removed), or the perpetual fundraiser. One coffee they cut a little close. The honoree went into labor and had to leave to deliver the little cherub. But she came right back to open all those gifts. She wasn't about to let a little thing like labor deter her from that stash of goodies.

You won't believe what happened the other day and this being the South it is most astonishing. My friend went to a coffee and there was no coffee. The hostess told her it was too hot. Well, the only thing that will keep my friend from killing someone when she hasn't had her coffee is chocolate, which she immediately went in search of only to be told by the same hostess it was too early for chocolate. My friend was speechless (as well as murderous) because she and I are in complete agreement on this. It is never too hot for coffee and never too early for chocolate. As she relayed to me, "I'll tell you one thing. Next coffee invitation I get, I'm calling to see if they're actually serving the stuff."

Speaking of coffee, my favorite thing in the world is to go to a little café, order doughnuts and coffee, read the paper and work the crossword puzzle. There is no television or telephone, but just peace and quiet. As all Americans can attest, there is now a Starbucks on every corner. I have never seen anything like it. But I personally don't want coffee that costs more than my children's first year college tuition. I don't want coffee that grows hair on your chest and under your armpits. Menopause does that. I also don't want hazelnut, vanilla, peppermint, or peach coffee. I just want a plain cup of coffee. Is that too much to ask? Apparently.

One of those fancy new coffee shops opened up, so I decided to give it a whirl. Of course, you have to wait in line forever while they ask if you want an espresso, mocha, cappuccino, latte, or low fat, nonfat, whole milk, or grande, short, tall. On my turn, I ordered coffee. The prepubescent girl behind the counter said, "Like, I don't think we have that."

"But this is a coffee shop," I practically screamed.

"Really," she said. "Who knew?"

So I ended up ordering a latte. Did you know a latte cost $3.95 and has 220 calories? (In the famous words of one prognosticator: No one will ever pay $3 for a cup of coffee. Tell Howard Schultz that!) A black cup of coffee, on the other hand, cost $1.10 and has zero calories. At this rate, this younger generation is going to be, like, fat and broke.

Who knew, indeed!

Chanel No. 5

* * *

My husband does not do malls. The last time he was in a mall my son was four-years-old and he took him Christmas shopping for my gifts. My son is about to draw Social Security, so you do the math. Okay, so I exaggerated a teeny bit, but you get the picture. Anyway, for some unknown reason, my husband decided to go for father-of-the-year award this particular year. With our four-year-old son in tow and my list, off they went.

After an hour or so, my son (who has been known to be a bit active) came bounding into the house shouting, "Mom, guess what we bought you."

"And spoil the surprise?" I asked.

Insisting he said, "Just guess one thing. It smells good."

"Perfume!" I ventured.

"Yes," he exclaimed. "It is Channel Number 5 (did I mention he watched the occasional TV) and, Mom, it cost $75.90 and Dad almost died!"

Well, I tell you, I had to laugh out loud. I knew my husband thought he was going in that store for a five dollar bottle of perfume. He had no clue women willingly took out loans for trifles such as fragrance. So here he is with his spirit-of-giving smile glued on, shelling out seventy-five big ones, all the while muttering under his breath about paying this much money for something that evaporates five minutes after you dab it on.

This became doubly humorous as the rest of the day was related to me. Our local Dairy Queen had been aggressively advertising their newest concoction named "The Blizzard," which our four-year-old had been begging to try. As the ad went, "The Blizzard" was made of ice cream so thick you could literally turn it upside down. So still working on the father- of-the-year award, my husband ended their little outing at the Dairy Queen. Much to my spouse's dismay, he soon discovered "The Blizzard" cost $2.95. For the second time that day he died, as he was still under the illusion a scoop of ice cream cost twenty-five cents. Exiting and grumbling mightily about the cost of paying almost three dollars for ice cream, our darling son spoke up, "But, Dad, the reason it cost so much is because it's so thick you can turn it upside down," and immediately preceded to demonstrate. Do the words "false advertising" ring a bell here? There is my husband, just having dished out $75 for perfume, looking at $3 worth of ice cream melting on the pavement at his feet.

I really got him good though. The day after Christmas, I faked spilling the entire bottle of Chanel No. 5. The man nearly had a coronary. I think he called the fire department. I couldn't help it. The devil made me do it. And him trying so hard to win father-of-the-year award!

Since my husband doesn't do malls, he doesn't do card shops either. Rather he fancies himself a Hallmark card writer. Either that or he hates paying $3.95 for a piece of paper you discard the next day. Regardless, every occasion I receive a homemade card from my husband. It has become his trademark. My all time favorite is the Valentine I opened a few years back. It had a stick figure Cupid running across the page. Written in red block letters inside a lopsided heart were the words, "I can think of 100 reasons why I love you." Upon opening the card, there lay a $100 bill with the message, "Don't you wish I could think of a million!"

Besides being a master of creating homemade cards, my husband also has a knack for turning a faux pas into a witticism. I suspect it comes from years of practice covering up his own personal gaffes.

We were at an exceptionally nice dinner party at the lovely home of friends. The wife had pulled out all the stops using her fine china and silver and crystal. It was a scrumptious gourmet meal. My husband is not known to be very discerning about food. In fact, he's so undiscerning he thinks I am a good cook, which works for me. I am certainly not a finicky eater but I do have my limits. I prefer to at least have a name for what I am putting in my mouth. Anyway, the salad course came and there was a strange- looking, I assumed vegetable, on my plate. Knowing my husband's penchant for eating anything, I asked him to sample this unknown food and tell me what it was. He gnawed for a few minutes then whispered, "Paper towel ... Bounty."

I couldn't wait to get the hostess in the kitchen. We are very good friends and she is great fun. When I related this little tale, she howled, "I had a paper towel at the bottom of the greens and forgot about it. By the time I started to toss, it was too late. I just hoped no one would notice!" She was a great sport about the entire thing. I was preparing a Caesar salad the other night for dinner. I called to my husband, "Which do you want with your salad? Brawny or Bounty?"

"Surprise me," he said.


Excerpted from "Miss Hildreth Wore Brown"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Olivia deBelle Byrd.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Miss Hildreth Wore Brown,
Thank You Notes,
Coffees And Coffee,
Chanel No. 5,
Directionally Challenged,
Southern Grandmothers,
Great-Aunt Lottie Mae,
Mrs. Bell,
Victoria's Secret,
Robert Redford,
The Devil Is In The Details,
New York,
Ivana Trump And Asparagus,
Breaking And Entering,
Mint Juleps,
Southern Do's And Don'ts,
Kappa Deltas,
Beauty Pageants,
Possum Queen,
Nurse Ratched,
New Neighbors,
Christmas Sweaters,
What Am I Going To Wear?,
"We-Know-Mom's-Crazy" Rule,
Party Time,
Speed Bumps,
The Art Of Bargaining,
Inner Trouble,
The Aristocracy,
A Southern Belle Errs,
The South,
About The Author,

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