Friday, January 18, 2013

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Unnamed kid's first haircut

 Brock's Barber Shop was on Caldwell Ave,  right around the corner from Stanley's Drug Store  Mr. Brock gave me my first haircut and many after that. In fact, a lot more than I ever wanted, but my Mother was convinced that cleanliness is next to Godliness, so a fresh haircut couldn't hurt. Besides, she felt little Ed needed all the help he could get. 
So, for years, Mr. Brock gave me a haircut EVERY Saturday, in preparation for Sunday School and Church.
I spent my first 12 years looking like a peeled onion.
But I never blamed Mr. Brock for this hair abuse. Sometimes I think he just pretended to cut a little of my hair; or perhaps some weeks there wasn't enough to cut, nevertheless I always felt he was on my side.

John Brock

His son, John, was in my sister Kathryn's class at Central and is retired in South Carolina, after a fascinating career as a TV and Movie producer, author, and college professor.  He's now retired, but still writes a semi regular column for The Southern Observer newspaper in Georgetown, SC.
He's not only one of my favorite writers, I feel that, thanks to my Mom, my family contributed greatly to his college education.

Perfection not mandatory

 By John Brock
It's hard to be in the South very long without being asked, “Where you from?” More than likely, it's verbalized; “Ya’ ain't from around here, are you?” Nobody necessarily means any disrespect and neither are we just being curious. — well, sometimes we're not being curious.
Visitors and newcomers must understand that we Southerners are very much place-oriented and where someone comes from frames that person in a context that we can identify with — albeit, sometimes unfairly. Nativity denotes place — a circumstance we understand well. Southerners have always been “place oriented.”
So, it was a surprise to see myself identified as a “Georgetown native” in a newspaper article several years ago. I was a little embarrassed that local folks might think I was trying to horn in on their birthright.
I was not born in Georgetown County. There! I feel better with that confession. I do, however, claim to be an eighth generation South Carolinian but even that statement deserves some explanation. Although Brocks and other kin have been in the Palmetto state since the very beginning, I was born several miles across the border in upstate North Carolina. Now that I have made that confession publicly I feel as if my soul has been cleansed!
My Dad, a native of Abbeville County in upcountry South Carolina, had moved to North Carolina, married a Charlotte native and witnessed my birth about eight miles, as the crow flies, into North Carolina. He never quite got over it and would often exclaim that North Carolinians always claimed that Andrew Jackson was born in NC but everyone knew he was really a South Carolinian and like so, my son. But nobody ever argued over my birthplace like they did over “Old Hickory” for generations before South Carolina finally won that argument.
So, I have admitted the unvarnished truth. I was born out-of-grace but my roots are in South Carolina and I have lived much of my life in “my” Palmetto state. Furthermore, I am always quick to point out that the first John Brock in America sailed with Sir Walter Raleigh in his first venture into Carolina before it was divided into North and South. Nonetheless, some folks might not give me credit for being “truly” a South Carolinian.
But I still claim my South Carolina heritage despite my accident of birth. As my Dad always proclaimed it was, “Close enough!”
Speaking of close-enough
We Southerners are not perfectionists.
Perfection is not a dominant Southern trait. The only “perfectionists” you find in the South are either transplants or that prissy little girl in the third grade who was always the “Teacher’s pet.”
Southerners, for the most part, accept human frailties and individual shortcomings as long as they are admitted to. In fact, imperfections are sometime heartwarming to us — an old dog with one flopped ear or crooked tail. That neighbor who is just a little off plumb. A Southern Belle with a chipped tooth, skinned knee or with a slight cross to her gaze can be endearing in the Southern state of mind. Imperfection can often be “lovable” to Southerners. This rationality explains why sometimes even at funerals, imperfections of the deceased are occasionally alluded to.
Our mothers teach us not to be “perfect” — just “presentable” as long as we are ethical. Admitting to one's imperfections is, of course, “ethical.”
Southerners often adore eccentricity. That's why characters like Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle have always been so lovable.
So it is, too, with Southern writers. We ain't perfect and we know it. We wear our imperfections with honor. It keeps us humble.
So, yes, there are imperfections from time to time in my writings but they just illustrate how hard I am working to maintain my Southern “close-enough” image.

John Brock is retired and lives in Georgetown County. He can be reached at this newspaper by mail or by Email: His website featuring his book, “Southern Breezes Whistle Dixie” is