It should be remembered that children acquire information from all available sources, not just from school, or their parents, or their assorted pulpit yodelers. As I was listening to the radio the other day, it occurred to me that four things made up my complete understanding of the American South. As a kid growing up in Wisconsin in the 1960s, which made me by default Almost Canadian, I had no contact with that area of the country. The most-south I had ever been was Indianapolis. So, via my TV and radio and magazines, these were the four things that taught me about the exotic land where people talked real funny and everyone was getting in trouble all the time:

1. The Civil Rights Movement, as seen on the nightly news and LIFE Magazine. What I learned: White Southern people hated Negro or Colored Southern people a whole lot (this was well before the terms African-American or Black were in common use). They hated them so much they didn't want them to vote or go to school or be in the same places as white folks. Negro or Colored Southern people were very unhappy about this.

2. Televised situation comedy "The Beverly Hillbillies." What I learned: Southerners were so backwards and stupid that you had to teach them how to eat with a spoon. They also liked rope belts.

3. Televised musical variety show "Hee Haw." What I learned: Southerners were goofy, lazy, gossipy dumbasses who liked to wear overalls or sparkly suits or short shorts, had huge hair, told terrible jokes, and played guitar well.

4. The crossover country-to-pop epic story song. Let's take a few of these one-by-one, all from the time period from 1967-1970...

"A Boy Named Sue," Johnny Cash. What I learned: Southerners were foul-tempered violent criminals with twisted senses of humor. Fathers are voluntarily absent.

"Ode To Billie Joe," Bobbie Gentry. What I learned: Southerners like to shovel food down their pieholes while discussing suicide and enjoy throwing suspicious litter into large rivers. Fathers die of viruses.

"Harper Valley, P.T.A.," Jeannie C. Riley. What I learned: Southerners are judgmental snarky hypocrites who frown over miniskirts and don't like to close their blinds all the way shut. Fathers are absent (unknown reason).

"Patches," Clarence Carter. What I learned: Southerners were unlucky in agriculture, financially destitute, and often employed child labor. Fathers completely die.

So you see by the time I was MissEight's age, I had pretty solid ideas about my Confederate neighbors, which remained uncorrected by no one, mainly because I never told anyone about my impressions and that the stuff about the big hair and the overalls was totally true anyway.