Traditions help keep the Deep South alive and well

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 3, 2003

Traditions are an important part of small-town life, perhaps more so in the Deep South than in other parts of the country. Our once-leisurely lifestyle, which allowed time to remember a tradition and to observe it, is probably responsible.

A tradition may be that of wearing a boutoniere to church on Mother’s Day &045;&045; a red rose if Mother is still alive, white if she is not.

Traditions may be as simple as cooking turkey and dressing each Thanksgiving, hanging generations-old decorations on the Christmas tree, or dyeing eggs on the night before Easter. Walks through old Live Oak Cemetery to visit family members is another, a favorite.

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Another Selma tradition was born at the YMCA about 12 years ago with the first Mother-Daughter Camp at Camp Grist. The time varies between spring and fall, says Kent Hooper Woodruff, &uot;depending on the football schedules.&uot;

Woodruff, a math teacher at School of Discovery and a realtor, will be at Camp Grist Saturday and Sunday with her daughters, Caroline, 16, and Anne, 10. Joining them will be Lauri Cothran, executive vice president of tourism, and her daughter Emily, 9. Her older daughter Kate, 16, will not be with them this year.

She explains: &uot;My mother and I take a trip together each summer, so I am going to let just mother and Emily go this year.&uot;

The Cothrans and Woodruffs are third-generation Camp Grist families, although other, older members went to the first &uot;Y&uot; camp, Camp McGee. And their daughters are as enthusiastic about camp life as their mothers, who find time for this tradition although both are busy career women.

Emily Cothran likes best &uot;spending time with my mama.&uot;

Anne Woodruff enthuses about the arts and crafts. &uot;They’re fun. Last year we made picture frames with acorns glued around it.&uot;

Kate Cothran also enjoyed &uot;time with my mother and going to the canyon.&uot; The canyon, the girls describe &uot;as a big hole in the ground where there’s a mud slide down to a creek at the bottom. It must be 40-50 feet deep. You get down there in a hurry but it sure seems steep coming up.&uot;

Archery is another &uot;fun&uot; part of

Camp Grist . The rope course, Woodruff allows &uot;is a challenge.&uot;

She confesses to making it &uot;only halfway .&uot;

Kate is often a counselor for

Grist Tot Camp, which she describes as &uot;a lot of screaming children, running around. Each counselor has seven kids each, the girls take the girls and the boys have the boys. It’s interesting and challenging.&uot;

All the girls are high on the food served during Mother-Daughter Weekend. Emily’s favorite is &uot;spaghetti and garlic bread. And we have good breakfasts with sausage, bacon and eggs.&uot;

A picnic by the lake is another camp tradition; so is the midnight snack of ice cream and brownies, according to Cothran. Often, S’mores are toasted over a campfire, another tradition.

Games are played on Saturday night, usually parodies based on television game shows: &uot;Who wants to be a princess?&uot;

with the prize &uot;a crown and clip-on earrings,&uot; Emily and Anne say. Other prizes are given &uot;along the lines of

the oldest or the youngest mother or grandmother (grandmothers often attend and are always welcomed).

What makes this weekend a cherished tradition?

Kate Cothran: &uot;It creates a tradition for us to follow with future generations, as our mothers have.&uot;


&uot; Because, Camp Grist is a great place to be.&uot;

Woodruff: &uot;It gives us time together without the distractions of TV, radios, the telephone. It’s a really fun way for people to experience camp and it often leads to summer camp for them.&uot;


&uot;So is going to the Y. I like the gymnastics after school; we tumble four days a week. I can do a back-bend kickover.&uot;

The lifeguarding class at Grist Y is also popular, another long, longtime tradition. Pat Knight taught Woodruff (then Kent Hooper) to swim &uot;more years ago than we’ll talk about.&uot;

Cothran likes the &uot;good after-school programs for kids at the ‘Y’. A lot of people of different backgrounds find it a place to interact. It’s good for our community.&uot;

However, Woodruff adds, &uot;Since I was 7 I have realized we need a new bathhouse and a new kitchen at Camp Grist. Maybe, someday. . .&uot;

According to both families, the weatherman has promised warm temperatures for the weekend. Not really a tradition, but signs are hopeful.