Thursday, June 05, 2008
You Ain't from Around Here
“You Ain’t from Around Here, Are Ya?”
By Richard E. Noble
I suppose that there are a few out there who might incorrectly assume that because a person has lived in the town of Eastpoint for thirty years or so, he could rightfully call himself an “Eastpointer”. I am not so naive. I would never, even in my wildest dream tell anyone that I was an Eastpointer. I could no more be an Eastpointer than if captured by a Seminole as a child and held on a reservation for thirty years would I be an Indian.
But when introducing myself to people from far off and distant places like “Tallahassee” for example, I can refer to myself as an “Eastpointer” because what the heck would they know, anyway. They probably wouldn’t know an Oysterman from a Fisherman, a Crabber from a Picker, a Shucker from a Culler or a Dealer from a Deck Hand.
Often here in this neighborhood people refer to me as a “Yankee” - sometimes even as a “damn Yankee.”
I was informed the very first night that I arrived here in Eastpoint of the difference between the two definitions.
The wife and I were at the old Charlie’s Bar when a rather large fellow with a mud stained T-shirt, a baseball cap and a pair of ragged looking stained white rubber boots came up to the bar next to where we were sitting. He looked me up and down rather curiously, and then said, “You ain’t from around here, are ya?”
My first thought was how did this guy come to the conclusion that I “wasn’t from around here”? I mean it wasn’t like I was Chinese or something. I wasn’t dressed in a Tuxedo or sporting a Gene Autry cowboy shirt and ten gallon, Wild West hat. I mean before landing here in Eastpoint, I had been from one corner of this country to another. My wife and I had traveled from Oregon and Washington State to Fort Lauderdale and Key West, Florida, from Baja and San Diego, California to Portland, Maine and Boston, Mass, from the upper peninsula of Michigan to Port Isabel, Texas. Like the song said “We had been everywhere man.” And in traveling to all these different places no one ever looked at us and said “You ain’t from around here, are ya?” That was wierd.
“No I ain’t,” I said.
“I didn’t think so. Where are you from anyway?”
“Well, before we arrived here we were working in Orlando.”
“You ain’t from Orlando.”
“You mean where was I born and raised?”
“Yeah, that’s what I mean.”
“Well, originally I’m from New England - Massachusetts in particular.”
“That is just what I thought! You’re a Yankee.”
Now I thought that was rather peculiar. All the many years that I had lived in New England nobody had ever called me a Yankee. I was raised in a town up there that was called the “Immigrant City”. We had somewhere around 40 to 60 different nationalities who had settled there over the generations. I had been called a “Polack” and I had been called a “Harp” and I had sometimes been called a “Limey” depending on which of my immediate ancestors my accuser was familiar with. But no one had ever called me a Yankee.
“What the heck is a Yankee anyway?” I asked.
“Well there’s two kinds,” he said. “Let me ask you a question. Are you just passing through or are you lookin’ to buy a place and settle here?”
“At the moment we ain’t planning on settling anywhere,” I said. “We plan on staying any place that we can find work.”
“Well, we got plenty of that around here. But if you ain’t thinking of settling here and you’re just planning on passing through that would make you just a plan old Yankee.”
“And if I was planning on settling in?”
“Well, in that case you would be one of them damn Yankees.”
Everybody around the bar laughed. When the big gentleman walked away the bartender said “Don’t mind him. He don’t mean nothin’ by it. He kian’t help himself … he’s an Eastpointer.”
At this point I still don’t know if being known as an Eastpointer is a good thing or a bad thing. When my wife and I began our careers as “oyster people” we were working for this fellow who owned a little campground down by the water’s edge. We were standing on the “hill” one morning warming our hands over a small fire when I asked the old “salt” if he was originally from Eastpoint. He immediately began laughing and slapping his thighs and elbowing everyone standing around him. “He thinks I’m an Eastpointer,” the man said laughing and sputtering. “Can you believe that?”
Well after the laughing and sputtering died down, I followed up and said, “Well where are you from anyway?” I was sure that he was going to tell me that he was from Georgia or Alabama, or Louisiana or some place like that, but instead he proclaimed, “Why I’m from Carrabelle originally. I don’t have no relation to none of these folks over this a way.”
So there you go.
My conclusion was that if Carrabelle was a separate entity to this “Eastpointer” then maybe being a Yankee wasn’t all that distant either.
Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble, a Freelance Writer who has lived in Eastpoint for thirty years. Both books are now available on Amazon.com. You can stock and sell his books at your business by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org