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The Online Magazine FOR and ABOUT Southside Virginia







July '08 Contents

July '08 Cover


Discovering Southside
In the beginning

SoBo Farmer's Market Grand Opening
By Gert Slabach



Discover Southside Contest


Editor's Page


Letters to the Editor

On The Funside (NEW)
(Mower Maintenance)

South Winds
(Big Pleco)

Born and Bred (NEW)
(Lifelong in Southside)

Ask Bubba - Advice

Festivals & Events

Past Issues

Past Issues are available from June 2008 through the current issue.
Select the desired issue from the drop-down box below.



Discovering Southside

  Resistance is futile, you WILL be assimilated!

  Such is the nature of Southside Virginia. You get caught up in it. You feel it. And in a short time, you become immersed in it.

  Ok, time to fess up. I am an import. One of those people who eventually hears, "You're not from around here are you?� It takes a while, but sooner or later a conversation will turn to "do you remember where such and such 'used to be'" or the time this or that happened. If it "used to be", or happened more than about three years ago, I probably don't know about it except vicariously. My friend and partner in crime, Brenda, on the other hand was born and raised here, as were most of her family and friends. So we often have entirely different perspectives on the area.

  I grew up in an area such as this; largely rural, with a rich history all around it. I was guilty, as many are, of just "knowing" about many of the historical sites, natural and cultural attractions, and regional events all around me, but rarely actually visiting them. Places and events no self-respecting tourist would miss, but locals often overlooked or ignored.

  The idea for Discover Southside started out to be a series of articles on the theme of getting to know your own backyard. Viewed and written about through the eyes of a visitor or newcomer. Sometimes even through the eyes of a child, where everything is new, everything is a first time experience.

  In the course of discussing attractions, events and historical places in the area, we realized a series of articles and reviews wouldn't do justice to Southside. It deserved more of our attention. But what form would that take? Through much thought and discussion we decided to create an online magazine dedicated to Southside Virginia. So the "Discover Southside" project began.

  In order to keep our efforts focused, we realized we had to define just what exactly constituted Southside Virginia. First we felt the need to get a handle on what the geographical area really included.

  We began by reading what was available from various civil and fraternal organizations, tourism booths and Chambers of Commerce. Even websites like Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southside_(Virginia) ) were browsed. Then we started asking people we knew. "What would you say is Southside?". From life-long residents to newcomers, to local leaders and self-appointed experts of all ilks, no one was safe from our inquisition. We even took copies of Virginia maps with us to several social functions and asked people to draw an outline around what they thought comprised Southside. From our reading and these conversations we realized, everyone had a slightly different opinion on the subject. When people referred to "Southside" it was a rather vague general area. More of a feeling than a region. The only consistent answer we heard was an area including Halifax, South Boston, and Danville was "Definitely Southside". But we also heard everything from the Blue Ridge to the coast, for East and West lines, and from Lynchburg to the North Carolina State line for the Northern and Southern boundaries. Wow, what a myriad of answers. Now more confused yet determined than ever, we set out to get our own definition.

  In our quest to define the geographical boundaries of Southside we took a series of road trips. The North Carolina Stateline was the obvious southern boundary. With that settled, we began with the remaining three of the four principle compass directions. North, West, and East. The idea was, to keep going in a direction until we determined we were no longer in Southside. Once we got to an area which identified itself as Northern Virginia, Western Virginia, Tidewater, or anything other than Southside, we would call that our line. On these trips, we wound our way through highways and back roads. We stopped, in local stores, and attractions, we picked up local papers, or flyers, read notices in windows, checked advertising, and asked people along the way. "Are we in Southside?" In many communities, there were obvious signs. The local papers or the marquee over the town hall or theatre said "Southside" something or other. In other places things were not so apparent. So we asked, we looked, we listened, and we learned.

  These trips were the beginning of our discovery of Southside Virginia. While we were defining the geographical parameters of Southside, we were also learning more about the culture, the people, and the history of the area. As a newcomer to the area, I feel like I gained the most, but as a life-long resident, Brenda learned that sometimes there are things one just takes for granted, things you just feel like you are supposed to "know". And many things we "assume" we know, and often don't really think about.

  Along the way we heard, personal stories from many people. We saw things that are not in any tour guide or listed with any chamber. And we have only scratched the surface.

  Here is just a bit of what we have lived and learned.

  Southside Virginia is a dichotomy. A study in contrasts..

  Southside is one-lane bridges and four-lane highways.
With Interstates bracketing the region.

  While mountains overlook the North and West, rolling hills and rich bottom lands punctuate the scenery as the land gradually flattens becoming almost coastal as one heads toward the South and East. In the spring, pale green carpet turns to a mosaic of contour plowed fields, which become a patchwork quilt of russets and gold in the fall.

  Southside is a farmer in oxford cloth button-downs, where a 30 year old John Deere tractor might have a GPS and a laptop computer onboard.

  It might be an old man in tobacco-stained overalls and run-down boots whose personal net worth is that of some small communities.

  It is a time-weathered cabin next door to an antebellum mansion, and a Sunday potluck supper with the owners of both homes in attendance. At the same supper, grits and prime rib might grace the table right between the roast venison and squirrel stew.

  Where public schools still have family values, while accepting cultural changes.

  Where cell towers, water towers, and deer stands sprout from the same fields as tobacco and beans.

  Where a third generation dairy farm might abut a new technology park.

  Southside is a wood stove in the morning and air conditioning in the evening.

  It is finding a general store where you can buy antiques, fishing tackle, computer parts, and air-cured side meat, between the NASCAR memorabilia and pickled peaches.

  Most importantly, Southside is where people say, "Y'all come back" and mean it.

  The story of these road trips, beginning with the North Line trip in the next issue, will be an ongoing series. We hope you will join us as we continue our journey and "Discover Southside".


WB Carver - Editor   





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