Tacky (city)


Sign at the entrance to the Myrtle Beach Pavil...

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Mama had a certain expression back in the day that covered the gamut of faux pas.  If she saw a woman out in public in hair curlers, she would thin her lips and shake her head and utter sotto voce, “Tacky city.”   Mama was no snob, but some sights she deemed were just a pure personal affront.

She usually uttered these two words a lot more often when she took us to the rides at Myrtle Beach.  To her, Myrtle Beach was the penultimate Tacky City.  No wife beaters or tats missed Mama’s glare and whisper.  And heaven help the poor soul wearing a checked shirt and plaid pants.  Your uncle wore a starched shirt, Bermudas and long black knee-socks with black wing-tip shoes on the beach.  Mama never uttered a syllable in front of Uncle Milton, but you knew what she was thinkin’.  But then, in 1963, there were not a whole lot of options for men’s beach wear.

How come so many things that seemed sort of tacky, have made a turn around?  Especially in the world of southern gastronomy.  Mama is still reeling from these modern concepts:

1. Grits for supper.  Mama about died when we first took her to a restaurant that served shrimp and grits.  Who would have thought?  She made them for breakfast.  Period.  No tempura-battered sage leaves nor quail were added.

2. Collards as haute cuisine.  Collards were considered a side vegetable.  Period.  Not a delicacy served at some fancy establishment, coated in bourbon and brown sugar.  Nope.  Simply boiled with ham hocks.

3.  Coke as food.  Growing up, every soda was called a “Coke.”  This was something you drank, not to pour into cake batter or brush on hams.

4. Pimento cheese as a menu staple. Now all of the hip southern venues are hawking pimento cheese slathered all over everything.  You love pimento cheese more than life itself, but growing up it only made an appearance between two slices of white bread, toasted, on a TV tray next to a can of Campbell’s tomato soup (pronounced as Camel’s soup in these parts).

5. Boiled peanuts as da bomb.  According to Garden and Gun magazine, this is the HIP new appetizer at the ‘in’ New York watering holes.  Hah!  You can buy them from Bubba’s stand down in Freeport for a buck a bag.  NYC charges $8 for a teensy bowl.

Mama may still be right about the hair curlers. She may be right about some of the rest, too.

But the Pavilion at Myrtle Beach?  Even Mama would agree–they don’t make them like that anymore.  An old classic–just like Mama.

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About reelingintheyears.wordpress.com

A freelance writer who revels in the 1970's...and today. Thoughts on being a baby baby boomer and empty nester. Welcome to the Saturday evening porch.
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29 Responses to Tacky (city)

  1. “Coke as food.” I remember that trend from the 70s…I guess everything old is new again (although some things should never be brought back…like overalls on anyone but farmers and small children…tacky!).

    Fun post, Reeling!

    Wendy

  2. Tori Nelson says:

    Love this. I still don’t get the pimento cheese as a meal thing. But grits? All day, every day, every meal and I’d be one happy hick 🙂

    • Hick–love it! Forgot about that term. Foxworthy so focused on rednecks that he mayhap forgot about hicks and such. So love grits, and have to admit–the ones with the sage leaf and quail and TONS o’ cream are sooooo tasty!
      But am also hooked on IHOP’s, among many others.
      Thanks, Tori!

  3. Love it! Being Southern raised I know all these things and love how they have become “haute”. A Coke still refers to any carbonated beverage.
    I can get a huge bag of boiled peanuts at “The Jockey Lot,” out local flea market extraveganza.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. comingeast says:

    My mama made the best pimento cheese: Velveta cheese, a jar of pimentos and some mayo squished together by hand. Is there any other way? That’s what she always packed on our road trips. No exception, and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I just can’t duplicate her recipe.

    • YUM! Am embarassed to say that I have never made the stuff, since I can now purchase “Palmetto Pimento Cheese” from Pawleys Island’s Seaview Inn, at my local grocery store.
      Doesn’t it just so remind you of childhood? Pure and simple.
      Thanks, Coming East!

  5. ryoko861 says:

    All those little food tidbits that our moms used to make. I remember tea sandwiches that my mom used to make with cream cheese and olives and pumpernickel bread.

    Grits rock!

    Mom was people watcher. Never said anything about anyone. You just knew.

  6. I like your post.Your mom does sound like a cool lady.

  7. Also I forgot to SUBSCRIBE by email to this site.

  8. Welcome to the porch, Sigrid! Pull up a rocker…:)

  9. Your mother sounds like a very refined lady!! I think that going out in pj’s is rather tacky…

  10. Thank you so much, J.T.E.! Agree about the pj’s! Pj’s and curlers are not a good look…Mama used to say, “They’re out in public already; who on earth are they rolling their hair FOR?”

  11. Sounds like your mom would have been a fun dinner companion. I’ve never committed any of the five faux pas you mentioned so I hope your mom and I would get along.

  12. I love that you call your Mama a classic. 🙂

    Sounds like she imparted a lot of good Southern wisdom.

  13. Val says:

    I don’t remember coke as food, maybe it didn’t get to the UK?
    My mum used the Yinglish (combination of Yiddish and English) word ‘Feh’ in the same way as yours used ‘tacky city’.

    • Hi Val! Love ‘feh,’ I’m going to use that word today. Do you pronounce it ‘feh’ as in Tina Fey?

      • Val says:

        No, it’s pronounced like the ‘ne’ part of ‘never’. It’s just an utterance, not a real word really, like ‘ugh’ or ‘ewwww’ or ‘yuk’. And means pretty much the same as those last three… 😉

        One day when my parents and I were in the car on holiday, driving past wet fields with wet sheep in them, my dad suddenly said, “they’re not saying ‘mehhhh’ they’re saying ‘fehhhh’!

  14. I never really got the whole Coca-Cola Cake craze. I have to agree with your mother on that one. “Co-colas” are for drinking. Period. Or maybe in an Icee. Shrimp and grits, however? Brilliant!

    I’ve never been a fan of Myrtle Beach, either. However, I’ve learned to love Daytona Beach recently. I guess the redneck apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…because it has no branches.

  15. Love it! And doesn’t Daytona just have a certain vibe? My husband loves those races…and Sebring, too. But Sebring was a wee little village when we first went in 1988.
    Poor old Myrtle Beach has changed direction over the decades. I’m not sure the city knows what it wants to be. There are still lovely old homes along the water on the north side.

  16. Pingback: Stuff I, Myself, Like « stuff southern people like

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