Southern Living

I WAS VERY touched and glad to see the article "Home at Last" (by Danny Duncan Collum, March-April 1999) discussing the realities of Southern life. I was especially glad to read about men and women who, despite working hard day in and day out, are still struggling to make ends meet.

So often we think the electronic dream we have is true, that we all live well in new clothes, beautiful homes, glittering fun cities, fast cars, with beautifully made meals awaiting our return, and lots of leisure time. I have been profiling the parishes (counties) here in Louisiana; the average salary in the majority of our parishes is $15,000-$20,000, putting most families between 100- and 200-percent below the federal poverty line. The major employers are factories, construction firms, Wal-Mart, and the school system. Hundreds of thousands of people work hard and sweaty jobs, mostly in a silence that contrasts sharply with the constant gossipy chitchat of our mainstream media.

I applaud a return to simple Southern life for all who are disenchanted with the rat race, but I urge those brave enough to go one step further—live on the thrifty food plan expense estimates used by the Department of Agriculture to determine food stamp allotments.

Madeline Roberts, Slidell, Louisiana

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