Originally posted at “Barb Taub — Writing & Coffee. Especially Coffee.”
(If you’re looking for the serial, “Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers” go back one post)
In my “real job” outreach is a buzzword. I see my blog as a great outreach effort. Through this blog I’ve met so many fascinating people and made great friends. A newer friend is Barb Taub and she let me visit her blog for coffee and a delightful chat. I hope you’ll join us to share in the fun. While you’re there, check out her terrific blog. Hugs!
Coffee with Barb & Teagan — Memorable Southern Characters
Barb, the coffee smells divine! Yes thanks – I’d like cream, but no sugar. I’m so happy to sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee with you. This really is nice.
Speaking of cream, I’m pleased as a cat with a bowl of cream to tell a little about my novel, Atonement, Tennessee. Umm that really is good coffee. “Ralda Lawton,” my heroine, would have appreciated it her first morning in her new home town. She was inundated with people dropping in, and she was feeling awfully frumpy, since the movers hadn’t arrived with her stuff – or clean clothes! At least she had a jar of instant coffee with her.
I’m happy to have this chance to comment on one thing about my characters, particularly the group of women friends who are all neighbors in the town of Atonement, Tennessee. Certainly I wanted to make them come to life and be memorable. So I may have said they are “larger than life.” But the real truth is — they are not.
If you have spent a couple of decades or more living in small towns in the “deep south” of the USA, like the one where I grew up, then you have surely known women similar to Bethany Gwen, Racine Mabry, or Lacey Hampton. The places I’ve lived and the people I’ve known provide a good deal of the inspiration for my writing. Even love-to-hate-them Ralph Hampton and Destiny Culver.
So now, I want to reminisce about some other memorable southern characters. At the top of my personal list is the late Dixie Carter as Julia Sugarbaker of the TV show Designing Women. Whenever I speak passionately about a subject I apologize for getting up on my “Julia Sugarbaker soapbox.”
Designing Women — The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
Then of course there’s Fannie Flag, who played a number of unique southern ladies as an award winning actress. However, she also wrote unforgettable southern characters in her best seller, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, which was adapted into the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes.
By the way – her Match Game performance isn’t a quarter of what you’d see in real life in any southern bar. I’m just saying…
Match Game ’75: Fannie Falls in Love
One memorable character that really was larger than life was played by Polly Holliday (in the TV version) as Florence Jean Castleberry, better known to all as “Flo.” Flo was a waitress in the movie Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, the subsequent television series, Alice, and that show’s spinoff, Flo. Yes that character was larger than life and outrageous… but nevertheless, I’ve met more than one outrageos real life Flo.
Alice Flo puts an APB out on Santa Clause
On a more serious note, there’s Kyra Sedgwick as Brenda Leigh Johnson in TV’s The Closer. Don’t make the mistake of thinking her femininity and accent diminish her intelligence or her ability. The only thing that bothers me about this character is the double-name. That’s another stereotype. I’ve actually known a lot more people from “up north” with double names. But I’m trying to stay off that Julia Sugarbaker soapbox. (Winks and grins)
TNT: The Closer
And yes – we are constantly ridiculed. Quite frankly, I don’t handle it half as well as “Brenda Lee.”
The Closer – Provenza mimics Brenda
Since she’s my favorite I’ll round this out with one more Julia Sugarbaker moment…
Designing Women – Julia Sugarbaker – Southerners Do NOT Eat Dirt – YouTube
Barb, thank you so much for the coffee and your lovely hospitality. It has been a pleasure. Mega hugs to you and all your readers.