By CATHI AYCOCK
I saw a rather snarky post recently berating Southerners for what seemed inexplicable behavior to those not born in (or born again by virtue of moving to and loving) the South.
Why do Southerners call shopping carts buggies? Why do Southern women monogram everything? While I can’t answer all the queries, I can reply to the few that involve style and shopping.
Why do Southerners love wearing pearls?
The short answer? Part history and part extremely good taste. Tennessee was part of a multi-Southern-state pearl rush from around 1895 to 1936. Rivers from Arkansas to Texas were yielding pearls and spawning a love of the creamy gem in the South.
Add to that historic element, another history note that defined pearls as beloved gems. There was a wide swathe of understated elegance as the norm among Southerners post-Civil War that still remains today. Carpetbaggers, new money and nouveau riche flooded the South looking for easy money. Flaunting their wealth was part of their personae and Southerners, even wealthy Southerners, disdained ornate diamonds and jewels. The pearl however, subtle, feminine and understated, was acceptable as tasteful embellishment.
Why do Southerners monogram everything?
Monograms tend to flourish during war, a way to define your alliance and heritage during chaos. With most of the Civil War fought in their own backyard, and with many homes looted or burned leaving meager possessions, monogramming was part of the Southern culture.
Today, monograms add a personal touch to items and serve as family keepsakes. Not to mention they add a touch of old-school charm to nearly everything.
Why do Southerners call shopping cart buggies?
The first true self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, was started in Memphis, Tenn., in 1916. Shoppers could meander the aisles and choose their own groceries versus handing a list to a clerk for them to choose. All that meandering required a new invention to hold the goods, a basket with wheels and a handle. Customers were reluctant to embrace the invention, with women protesting they had pushed enough baby buggies and didn’t want the added chore in the grocery store.
Consumers finally came around and pushing a buggy at the Piggly Wiggly in Memphis became commonplace. Self-service grocery stores became the norm as well, but the name of the new shopping invention was never given consensus. Southerners referred to it as a buggy, while other regions called it a shopping cart.