I have lived in the Ozarks all of my life. I am VERY comfortable with the fact that I do not meet a majority of stereotypes associated with hillbilly life.
Now, please understand that I'm not a cultured, gotta-have-my-Broadway-and-lattes kind of girl. God didn't make me that way. I guess you could consider me a redneck (Yes, there is a difference between a redneck and a hillbilly.). I enjoy deer hunting, fishing, NASCAR, riding 4-wheelers, the smells of dirt, dairy barns, and the lake. I also like to sew, quill, bake, shop, eat chocolate -- all the girl things.
I am obviously unique. However, some of my fellow Ozarkians will fit any vision you may have concocted to a "T". Let me give you some examples from a recent craft fair I attended.
Last Saturday my sister and I grabbed a friend a piece and headed of to a local craft fair we attend every year. There are always great sights to be seen.
We hadn't even been there five minutes and lo and behold if we did not run into some people form the town we grew up in.
Neither my sister or I live there anymore, but our parents do. It's rich with small town gossip and snootiness. If your last name isn't such and such, well forget about ever getting the time of day from half the town. I thought maybe I was just bitter from attending 13 years of school in the town. After I went on my way and started my grown up life I was sure I would have a more mature perspective on the whole hoop-ti-la. I gave them all the benefit of the doubt, until I wasn't invited to my 10 year H.S. reunion! Now, that just made me mad. I'm still a little bitter.
This could be why I did everything in my power to avoid having to converse with the people from our hometown. The group consisted of Aunt, Mom and Daughter. It's important to know that I went to school (K-12th grade) with daughter. Until Saturday, I had not seen her since our Graduation day. We were friends in school. Everyone was friends, kind of. There were only 36 people in my graduating class. I told you it was a small town.
My sister was quite helpful in helping me avoid the hometown peeps. Now, some of Sis's comments were not so Christ-like.
"Oh, yeah, I saw Daughter's Mom in Sam's the other day. She was wearing that same silly fanny-pack! I'm so glad our Mom is not the only weird person out there!"
"Daughter's hair is the exact same as when you guys were in high school!"
Now she was right about the hair thing. It was the same shoulder-length spiral perm with chia pet bangs Daughter had when we were in Junior High. It looked like she had some method of freeze drying her hair every night to preserve the 80/90's look. I didn't really think any less of her for not changing her hair. It just truly amazed me.
Ozarkers (aka Hillbillies) seem to be like this though. It seems like every time a tornado comes through it freezes people into the style of the given decade. If you've been here, I know you've seen people like this. They're everywhere. Especially craft fairs.
I also noticed that her face was quite wrinkled. YIKES! Quick a mirror. Do I have wrinkles?
Let me just tell you that it is extremely frightening to run into someone you grew up with and realize they look old. I'm not old. I don't know what happened to her. Maybe all the strife involved in keeping her hair preserved.
The real reason we were there -- the crafts. There are lots of handmade wooden toys at the craft fair. The really nice kind that don't need a "for ages ?+" label or a recall notice. The kind that a grandpa makes. The kind you can pass down from generation to generation. There are homemade soaps and lotions, jams and jellies, quilts and floral arrangements. Booths manned by SAHM's and retired couples.
One particular retired couple, bless their hearts had a booth with lots of homemade items. She had sewn lots of things. He had contributed his own handiwork. They obviously have chosen to spend their twilight years traveling the craft fair circuit together.
This would be where the Hillbilly craftiness comes in. The old man had made some reindeer. They could be purchased for $2. They were made out of red Solo cups. Two cups glued end-to-end for each leg, again for the body, and one cup for the neck and one cup for the head. Wow! $2. Solo cups.
Not to be outdone the old lady had purchased several types of children's themed material and machine stitched kid size quilts. One particular material was originally intended to be one of those quilted books. A large printed square at the corner of the quilt included a verse on the material the went something like "This Book blah, blah, blah. . ." Well, if obviously wasn't a book so the little old lady had used her trusty Sharpie marker to cross out "book" on the material and write (again, with her bold black Sharpie) "quilt" above it. Again, wow!
So tomorrow, I'm off to another Hillbilly fest, uh, um . . . I mean craft fair.
Don't back out on me now, Sister JB! The fun has yet to begin!