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Reflections.... on being

one of the true


("Girls Raised In The South")

By Alice M. Batzel

          Having lived in places such as the Philippine Islands and Florida during my youth, it's no wonder that I love a warm tropical climate and beautiful beaches.

          Reflecting on my teenage years brings a flood of visual images from the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast. White sandy beaches surrounded by emerald green waters certainly made me feel as though I was in Paradise. Youthful priorities were getting a tan, watching the surfers, snorkeling in the shallow ocean water at low tide, hunting for sea shells and sand dollars after a storm, studying little sea creatures as they scampered at the water's edge, and riding the waves. Getting to the beach was an absolute must at every opportunity!

          Winter months brought the adventure of sand-skiing on the sand dunes; it was thrilling to launch off the top of a steep sand dune as you balanced upon a single water ski that was heavily waxed until it was as smooth as glass. You would speedily soar down the dune and, if you were lucky, you would victoriously land at the base of the dune in the "sugar bowl" where several dunes shared a gully. To remain on your feet throughout the duration, and end upright with your feet firmly in the footings of the ski, was a supreme winter goal. Unfortunately, many sand-skiers, including myself, learn the term of "Wipeout" somewhere along the journey down the dune. Nevertheless, the ride was always exhilarating! No one cared that it was too cold to get into the water. Sand-skiing on the dunes and riding in dune buggies along the beaches and over the tops of the sand dunes were great winter sports for teenagers. Over the years, however, numerous hurricanes literally blew away our beloved sand dunes, and now those adventures are memories that will never be recaptured.

          Oh, how I love southern food! I could never dream of a more scrumptious feast than that of a summer picnic of fried snapper fingers, hush-puppies, fried chicken, BBQ pulled pork, coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad, sliced garden tomatoes, boiled corn-on-the-cob, sweet pickled cucumbers, deviled eggs, old-fashioned southern biscuits, pineapple upside-down cake, and a dip-top from the Dairy Queen. Equally treasured, was enjoying this bit of heaven in the company of family that you loved dearly; it was a double blessing if, after eating, the older relatives would sit and reminisce of the "good old days". Any past quarrel or misunderstanding would magically disappear when all in attendance had a full stomach from food prepared with so much love. Afterward, everyone would simply be too stuffed to move, and too stuffed to let anything bother them, and everyone seemed content just to be together and enjoy one another's company.

          Growing up in the South, it was my experience that the home is the first school house; manners are taught, respect is earned, love of God and His good word is what governs a person's values and choices, and love of country is pledged with allegiance. The Golden Rule is never outdated and always applicable. Whatever story a person's life may tell, it always begins at home. Honesty is always the best policy. You should work hard and do the best job that you can, no matter what type of work it is that you do; every job is important. No one will ever love you more than your parents. You honor your parents by how you live your life, and you don't want to disappoint them, because you love them. Simply, but profoundly, the family is everything.

          Many delightful adventures and beloved memories of my youth were realized during the treasured years when I grew up on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast.

          I am definitely one of the "true G.R.I.T.S".............Girls raised in the South!

 (copyright 2009 - Alice M. Batzel - all rights reserved)

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