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Last of the South Town Rinky Dinks
Life in a small southern town in the late forties and early fifties, as seen through the eyes of the kids who lived there.
They called us the Rinky Dinks, and believe me, it wasn't a term of endearment. But we got by, and we all manaaged to finally leave South Town. Now that we're older, we realize that we didn't leave it behind, we took it with us, and the friendships that we knew there have lasted throughout the years.
In every small town in the rural South, and I suspect in most other parts of the country as well, there is a dividing line, a distinct geographical something that serves to determine the social structure of the town. A boundary line, if you will, that the people of the town use to judge who's who. Which side of the line you live on makes a very big difference in how you are perceived by the people of the town. Not only in the present but also for the rest of your life. Regardless of how many years pass, or how successful or how desperate you may become, you're still known in your hometown by which side of the line you grew up on.
In some towns, the dividing line is the river.
I don't know, but I guess maybe they call the people who live on the wrong bank River Rats.
In other towns it may be a mountain.
I can't even guess at what they'd call those people. Hillbilly's, or perhaps Mountain Goats, or some other equally mean and petty little homegrown name. But in the long run, it doesn't really matter what name is used, they all mean the same thing. The names are badges, and while they aren’t visible outside your clothing, they serve the same purpose. They are a means whereby the more fortunate people can describe the less fortunate ones, without resorting to actual bigotry. With that in mind, it will come as no surprise to learn that the names are almost always used in a negative sense.
In Springfield, Tennessee, the small country town where I grew up, the dividing line was the railroad tracks. There was the wrong side of the tracks and the right side, the North Side and the South Side. In this case, the wrong side of the tracks was known as South Town, and you can bet the folks who lived on the North side of the tracks had a name for those who lived on the South.
The "wrong side of the tracks" is a catch phrase, an all encompassing term that has come to mean a place where nothing good comes from, where criminals are born, bred, and harbored, and where everyone is poor and either uneducated or undereducated. But most importantly, it means that the people who live there are somehow inferior to those who, through an accident of birth, are fortunate enough to have been born a few miles, or even a few feet, on the other side of the line.
This book is about the people, mostly the kid’s that came from the wrong side of the tracks in this run of the mill, quite ordinary small country town where I grew up.
Most of the stories take place in the late forties and throughout the fifties with maybe one or two in the early sixties. A few of them may have happened in the thirties, but regardless of the time frame, the common thread lies in the almost childlike innocence of the times. Innocent, at least, when compared to today.
What did they call us, you might ask? They called us the South Town Rinky Dinks, and these are our stories. Sit back and prepare to take a journey that will allow you to relive your own best childhood memories, as you walk the streets of South Town side by side with me.