From: Phil Walters –
Date: Mon, Oct 11, 2010
Subject: Becoming a country person………

From the Gator’s Jaw’s

Born a Kraut, died a Redneck……….    
By Captain Phil

Becoming a Southern-American redneck is an achievement longed by folks around the world.

Take my stepmother, Ingeborg. She was born to wealth in Germany  with her family owning factories in Dusseldorf, she enjoyed a privileged childhood and appreciated “the elegant life”. Surviving the war & it’s depredations, (she used to say clean your plate as you don’t know how lucky you are to have a few potato skins to eat. Guess she sympathized with my Dad’s ancestors in Georgia after Sherman’s passing.)   She came to North America in the late 1950’s via Canada, with the ultimate goal being the United States, emigrating to New York in the early 1960’s and attempted to return to the good life with a cushy job on a cruise ship, buying her own home and fine furnishings.

While she never had her own children, she inherited 3 when she married my dad. She attempted to restore her “elegant lifestyle,” after moving South; however, this was in contrast to my dad’s “redneck” rearing in the South and his “hillbilly” family. Slowly, she learned to cook normal chow, such as greens, rice, okra, pork chops and the game my brother & I delivered, albeit served on nice china on a linen tablecloth. She even warmed to the occasional back yard pig roasts on her well kept lawn, though such events did take a toll of nagging to dad.

I remember her first trip down from New York in the early 1970’s and the ear piercing “introduction” upon meeting her first palmetto bug. Once we were all able to hear again, she stated, “That’s a huge bug.” I replied coyly, "not really, they get a whole lot bigger…..” Welcome to Florida! My brother & I just couldn’t wait to introduce her to the rest of the flying, crawling, swimming, slithering & slinking critters we both enjoyed and kept near…….

It took a while to adapt to this lifestyle of critters, guns and bugs, but I guess she finally did. Inge’s one pleasure was working on her 5 acre estate and mowing the yard with her John Deere. She said many times this is home & where she’ll die. She even got to the point she no longer screamed when she saw a snake or a lizard. That’s progress!

Dad passed away in 2003. Inge did not want to downsize & kept the estate. She passed away in March of 2007 and here is where I believe epiphany moment of “she’s a redneck” occurs. We had a gathering of friends and neighbors shortly after her passing. After greeting the attendees and offering a short prayer, we got to the part of her last request as stated in the will: a 21 gun salute! Luckily, many of the guests were packing their personal heaters and those that didn’t but wished to participate in the salute were offered a loaner gun. Hence, I lined up the guests and upon  my command they fired 3 volleys. You just gotta love this activity in suburban Tampa as a few of the guns were “heavy duty” and did a fine job of reverberating around the neighborhood.

So, you might be a redneck when you are encouraged to bring a gun to the memorial and if you fergit your’s, a loaner gun will be provided! God Bless Dixie!