Grandson of the South — by Spencer McCall

Although my grandmother has been dead, for over ten years her cousin Magalene Dulin Gaither, still refers to me as “Betty’s grandson.” Magalene, while mature in age is far from being absentminded as a matter of fact, she reigns as a sort of Queen Mother of Davie County. She is active in a number of civic and social organizations; she organizes weddings; her phone is the first to ring upon a death – even before the undertaker; she writes, directs and produces dramatic performances; she is an acclaimed historian, educator, and musician; she assists folks with their college thesis and anyone seeking public office or any other place of notoriety is sure to ring her phone and to knock at her door to receive her blessings. In the words of our late cousin, Sadie Dulin Jones, “if Mrs. Gaither doesn’t know about it, then it just didn’t happen…”

Her, referring to me as “Betty’s grandson” is far from an accident, for she knows my name, as well as that of my parents, siblings, grandparents, great grand parents, great great grandparents and countless other relatives. She also knows about for tucked away in her massive family and community archives (in her basement) one will no doubt find numerous newspaper clippings and programs which relate my biography. Mrs. Gaither, refers to me as Betty’s grandson, not by accident but as she has a strong understanding of Southern Culture and she understands that in the South,” who you are” is never as important as “whose you are.”

Surely, my non-Southern friends, will snarl at this concept, but I can attest to its validity. Some years ago an older relative Cousin Floyd Goins told me “when you come to visit if you get lost just tell them you are kin to me and one of the Caviness, Glover and Walden’s and they will take care of you.” A month later, I found myself lost on a rural back road of Chatham County, I pulled into a gas station that looked like it was built in 1920 and told them that I was a member of the Caviness, Glover and Walden family and within seconds the owner directed a patron (who gladly agreed) to lead me to the “Glover’s place” where Cousin Floyd lived. Some months ago one Wednesday, my mother and I found ourselves desiring to visit the home church of my late step grandfather in rural Davidson County.

We pulled into the parking lot and the minister and two members caught site of us, we informed them who are ancestor and people were and not once did they ask us our name, they simply smiled and said, “if we can do anything for you just let us know and come back and visit us one Sunday – you are family.” This phenomenon, even transgresses the races. At a reunion of the Caviness, Glover, and Walden family in rural Chatham County a Price cousin took us to an old family cemetery, but first he said he would take us to visit with a cousin in the Klan. Our Price relative, informed us, “oh don’t worry, you are a part of the family….”

While in Cheraw, my mother instructed an aunt to fetch me out of a gift shop as she knew what was occurring inside, the “proprietor – a genteel southern woman having discovered that I was a McCall was sharing with me her insight into my “good people” that I “come from.” In none of these or other cases, did anyone ask my name, care what school I attended, or what clubs I belonged – it was all of no concern to them. They simply, cared to know “whose I was” and not “who I am.”

It might seem unfair to be judged upon ‘whose you are” as opposed to your individual merit, but in fact this occurs in regards to our Eternity. It doesn’t matter if we were rich or poor; black, white or other; dumb or smart; male or female; in the club or out of the club; Baptist or Methodist; Ivy league or a GED recipient; the only thing that will matter is whether or not we confessed with our mouth, believed with our hearts, and accepted Him as our Savior. More precisely, in the end it will only matter whether or not we were His. I would be remiss if I did not admit, that just as I find happiness in being numbered among the children of God – I also love hearing Mrs. Gaither refer to me simply as “Betty’s Grandson.”

Enjoying the journey,

Betty’s grandson


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