By Sam Burnham
I doubted our groundhog.
Sure, it was a moment of weakness aggravated by an especially chilly morning. It was a typical reaction to the brisk wind blowing across your ears. It was a predictable response to the biting feel of the frost on your hands as you scrape it from the windshield. I needed someone to blame for my agony and the furry little weather prognosticator was an easy target. General Beauregard Lee told us that spring was coming early this year and I questioned him. Ok, so I didn't just question him. I called him a liar. I said he hated us. I suggested that he had pulled off an elaborate ruse and was laughing at our misery. I accused him of conspiring against us.
I owe him an apology.
Because when I find myself wearing shorts and and listening to the Indigo Girls singing Southland in the Springtime and Drivin' N Cryin' playing Honeysuckle Blue and the calendar still says February, Spring has certainly arrived, just as Beau foretold. I find myself closing my eyes and allowing the warm sun to drape itself over me. I've sat out on my back deck after sundown and listened to the song of the frogs in the swampy woods. I've watched the birds as they arrive back from whatever shelter they neglect to take me to when they disappear each fall.
The mornings and the evenings are still crisp enough a Southerner needs a garment with sleeves but the peach and sherry trees are beginning to blossom. The dogwoods won't be far behind. I've switched to raw local honey in my coffee to try to fight the forces of evil that have attacked my sinuses. And we are officially 56 days from the pack date for Vidalia onions. 56 days? I can almost smell them cooking on my grill.
Beau, you were right. I'm sorry I doubted you.
And now I'm off to sit in the warm sunshine and enjoy the fresh air.
By Sam Burnham
This article was originally written a little over a year ago for a website called "Cornbread Conservatives". The article was never published there and I have decided to post it here.
“If it were socially acceptable I’d wear nothing but seersucker. And maybe linen.”
That was the quote that gave birth to this essay. Sean Busick probably didn’t mean to inspire it but without his quote I would be sitting waiting to see what interesting ideas would appear on Cornbread Conservatives. Instead, I’ve been dubbed to present my opinions by expounding on my follow-up quote, “I think one of the responsibilities of a Cornbread Conservative should be setting appropriate trends.”
Much of my early adulthood was spent trying to find new and innovative ways to do things, resisting traditions, and experimenting with such entities as the Emerging Church These are not exactly the characteristics that define a Cornbread Conservative. But that long and winding road taught me that traditions matter, that simplistic beauty is irreplaceable, and that we can often answer our questions about the future with an honest look at our past. I also learned that trends can be shallow and that the crowd is often chasing something disposable and tacky. Time, experience and some really good friends helped me to where I am today. A Southern, Conservative, liturgical-tradition-leaning, Agrarian sympathizer experimenting with the Oxford comma.
The stance of a Cornbread Conservative is, in a word, Conservative. When we look at that word we cannot ignore conserve. The role of a conservative is, or at least should be, to conserve. We are the protectors, the conservers of society and civilization. Our actions and omissions should lead to the day we can hand off a healthy world to our children. Accomplishing that task is dependent on our ability to conserve the foundations that were set by our forefathers that established the world we were handed. The traditions, those permanent things that we often take for granted, are not just repetitive actions, preserved for the sake of tradition. They are the very foundation of our society. If we lose that foundation, our civilization will crumble. That is where the responsibilities of a Cornbread Conservative come into play. By setting appropriate trends and showing others why these trends matter, we become the evangelists that spread the gospel that saves our own way of life.
So let’s look at some of those trends.
It can be as simple as seersucker and linen. We live in an excessively casual society. Being a complete slob is socially acceptable while my friend Sean worries about wearing seersucker and linen. It’s not that there is not an appropriate time for a t-shirt and blue jeans. And during the winter months, tweed might be a better choice than seersucker. I’ll also say there is an appropriate time and place for pajamas (hint: the place is never further than your mailbox, providing it’s at home and not a P.O. box).
This assessment may seem harsh and I know people are looking to be comfortable. I also know that there is a common idea that caring what others think is outdated. But let me say this, dressing like a slob in public communicates a lack of respect for yourself, for those you encounter and for society at large. My Uncle Sam, for whom I am named, survived the Depression, worked in textile mills and for the city street department, had only a 3rd grade education, and would not leave the house without wearing a collared shirt and fedora. It mattered to him that he looked presentable when he went into public. It was a matter of having respect for himself and for others. This is an excellent arena for a Cornbread Conservative gentleman to lead the way. Be seen in public dressed well. Demonstrate your respect by looking respectable.
In politics, and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by a political party on this issue, we need to set the trends by having high standards for our viewpoints and our candidates. We need to be honest in our dealings. We need to be resistant to sensationalism from the left and the right. It would be wise to begin to remove ourselves from the modern pundits that get labeled as conservative but do not share our views on true conservative issues. Instead we should choose to reflect on the commentary of true conservatives like William F. Buckley Jr., Russell Kirk, The Twelve Southerners, and others. This will often require us to seek out older and less popular sources for information. But as we form coherent arguments to support conservatism and positively advance that viewpoint, we have the opportunity to start a trend in that direction.
As Cornbread Conservatives, we should set trends in entertainment. Be it visual art, music, cinema, theatre, books, we need to appreciate, support, and promote those art forms that are congruent with our beliefs. There is much weeping and gnashing of teeth over the state of modern Country music. Entertainment is traded on an open market. There are sellers because there are buyers. Ignorance sells because stupid buys. Sex sells because horny buys. The trend to set is honest consideration the true talent behind our entertainment. Is our choice a true art form? Is there talent behind it? Or is it just blobs of paint and Auto-Tune?
The point of trend setting is not to adhere to some Puritanical regimen. It’s not about being stiff and starched at all times. It’s not about some new social legalism that we have to enforce. It’s about providing true, conservative leadership - an example to the masses that low expectations and apathy are not mandatory. Higher expectations and respectability are true options at our disposal. The traditions that we grew up with can be handed down to our children. Meaningful entertainment, beautiful architecture, and good food can be preserved, even celebrated. We are not setting trends because we have to. We are setting trends because we can.
By Leigha Burnham
I'm well aware that most of you know what the curator of this blog, let's call him Mr. ABG, prefers to wear. He has talked about his affinity for bow-ties, Southern hats, and seer-sucker suits. But I'd venture to say that most of you have not a clue as to what I like to wear. Many of our readers are of the male persuasion, so if you aren't interested, you can stop reading now. (As a matter of fact, I'd highly recommend it, but not until after you give the post a "thumbs up" so Mr. ABG won't be too upset that I posted it.) For our female readers, those who love fashion and those who don't, this might be fun!
When not at work, jeans are my preferred pant of choice. They are actually my preferred pant of choice at work too, but I have to earn my "jeans days" at school! I won't post photos of my jeans because they are nothing special. I don't have a favorite brand or style. Dark wash, light wash, straight leg, boot cut, skinny (well maybe not-so-skinny) jeans are all my style! I do however want to post a photo of one of my favorite denim items that is not a pair of jeans....the denim jacket! I own four and I must say, I love them dearly! They can dress up a boring pair of jeans and t-shirt like nobody's business, but here in the South, we can wear a denim jacket over a maxi dress, add some boots, and wear it to a wedding! (I did that just last spring.)
When it comes to shirts, there is no contest that the simple cotton t-shirt is my favorite. Here in Georgia they are simply a must for most of the year. Even when it is cold outside, I just throw on a denim jacket or my favorite vintage flannels (mentioned next) and I'm warm and toasty. I won't bore you with descriptions of my favorite t-shirts, but the one I'm wearing the most right now is my "silos" t-shirt from, you guessed it ladies, Magnolia Farms in Waco, Texas. That Fixer-Upper show got me hooked! My flannels are a new favorite and they are so ME! I have purchased vintage flannel (nothing new) from Goodwill and antique stores for no more than $1-$5 in cost. I wear them as is, but recently I've been dip-bleaching them for an ombre effect that I think is just darling. Rolling up the sleeves to a 3/4 look works particularly well and suits my personal style. Love, love them!
As far as accessories go, you probably can guess what I like. However, it may surprise you to know that even though I have a huge collection of jewelry, hats, purses, and shoes, I tend to gravitate to the same items over and over again. Those are the ones I'll share. In terms of hats, I own all sorts, but I am in love with a good baseball cap. I have my favorite brown one with an huge flower on it that was purchased at a vintage shop. The flower is made from an old men's tie and antique lace. I love it! I wear it every single time that I go junkin' with Mr. ABG. Some of my other hat favorites include old hats that I pick up in vintage stores for about a dollar or two. Older hats are just better. They are broken in. They tell a story. They almost always get a conversation going. I like that.
I wear necklaces a lot at work, but in my spare time, I rarely wear them. I'm not sure why. I do know that every Southern belle must own pearls and I am no exception. And I wear them. I wear them dressed up and dressed down. I have basic pearls, real pearls (given to me by my aunt on my 16th birthday), and even statement necklace pearls with rhinestones. The only other necklace gear I wear on a somewhat regular basis is the jewelry needed to cheer on my boys' at the sporting events they participate in at school. Our colors are blue and white, so I wear a chevron scarf or a blingy statement necklace to the Friday night ballgame. Other than that....I just don't wear necklaces on the weekends or summer time. I think it is because it is just too hot!
I keep my earrings simple too. Lately, I've gravitated to the same pair almost every single day. They are a pair of very vintage looking, although new, hammered gold earrings. They almost look like copper. I love copper. These are lightweight, go with almost any outfit, and are just an easy solution for a working mother of three. I also tend to keep my "arm candy" simple. I know you have seen the "arm parties" pinned all over Pinterest, and many of my Southern friends wear five or more arm bangles every day. I just can't do it. It might be because I'm at the computer during the day and those bangles BANG. I do love a few pieces in my collection and you can find me wearing at least one of these on a daily basis. I have two beautiful handmade bracelets (one of gold and one of copper) with stone embellishments. They are lightweight, look good alone or stacked, and were made by a local artist. I bought these for $12 each at my favorite local antique mall...River City. My other favorite is not really a bracelet. It is an old leather belt that was cut and fashioned into a cuff with snaps. I adore this thing!!! I wear it with everything and always receive compliments. I purchased it off Etsy several years ago for about $40. It was worth every single penny.
As the post is getting rather long and at this point I doubt many of you are even still reading....kudos if you are with me, ladies.....I'm going to wrap it up with footwear and my purse. Yep, I said purse. I own many bags and use them all ocassionally, but honestly, there is only one bag in my collection that goes with everything, is fashion-forward-although-old, and is large enough to haul all of my mommy-gear. It is a faux leather Steve Madden bag that I purchased, you guessed it, at a local discount store. I do love bargains! I'm a thrifter!
Shoes are simple. I love a good pair of boots....I have tall ones and short ones. But, in all fairness, I wear flip flops most of the time. (Yes, even in winter, but inside only so as not to alarm anyone.)
So, I guess that is it. Jeans, t-shirts, flip flops....wow. Doesn't sound very fashion-forward, does it? Well, this is the South. Georgia to be exact. And if you don't like it, well you can kiss my biscuits. (Was that rude?!)
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire