Ronda Rich's blog

Why loyalty matters

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When I think back on the days of my youth, that time when I had the privilege of traveling on the NASCAR circuit, it would be hard to pick a lesson learned that was more important than another.

But there is one that deeply branded itself in the bones of my being – that of the importance of being loyal in all things.

In those days, the world’s premier stock car circuit was evolving into a national sport from being a Southern giddy-up-and-go. A new cable channel called ESPN and a newspaper named USA Today was giving it coast-to-coast coverage that it had not had previously. Read More»

Haggard’s treasure trove

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about the treasure trove that can be found in life’s challenging times – the wisdom, the victories, the emotional muscle built and, of course, the stories. As those who know me well often say with a smile, “It’s always about the story with her.”

It fascinates me to see what the journey of life will drill into our souls and our minds and how it can turn so effortlessly into songs, books, poetry, movies and kitchen table stories that will entertain, provoke and evoke. Read More»

Wooly boogers & weather

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As an unusually mild, rainy summer was melting away or rather frosting its way into autumn, I took to noticing signs that our mountain people have always used to judge the forthcoming severity of winter.

Everywhere, it seemed, I saw those little black and yellow striped, hairy caterpillars that I grew up calling “wooly boogers” but officially known as the banded wooly bear. This being an educational column of sorts, you should know that. You probably call them “wooly boogers,” too. I think of it as a caterpillar that puts on a heavy coat. Read More»

Listening to Dale’s advice

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A while back, a messy problem loomed ahead. I don’t like confrontation. If that makes me less than a person then consider me to be itty bitty. Life, I figure, is too short for squabbling. My motto is “whenever possible, step out of the way.”

Now, know this, less you think I’m a wimp — if it comes down to it and the need arises, fight I will. I won’t enjoy it but if I must, I will stick to my ground. Read More»

Pride and humility

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It has become somewhat of an art for me, that of studying Southern culture and deciphering what makes us different from others as well as downright peculiar among ourselves.

One thing I have found to be mostly true, as true as any rule can be, is that in the South, you are either proud or humble. There is very little in-between. Read More»

Hot pink luggage

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Some missing something or the other required me to prowl through closets at Mama’s house. That’s when I found it. I pulled it out and smiled broadly, warmed by the memories it evoked.

You know the feeling, I am sure. You find something that somewhere back in time meant so much, but years have passed and you have forgotten its existence. Then you find it and it’s like running into an old friend who reminds you of happy times. Read More»

Living in black and white

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One Sunday while sitting around the dinner table, Louise and I began to tell Daddy stories, the ones that stretched back to the early days of his preaching life. Since I was born 12 years after he “made a preacher,” as our folks said back then, I could only contribute what he had told me about those days, not what I had seen.

Daddy, raised hard in the Appalachian foothills, had escaped to make a better life for himself when the Lord called and he eventually answered, fighting the calling for a while and running as hard as man can until he succumbs to the Holy Spirit. Read More»

Decisions made in youth

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To this conclusion I have come: the most deadly years of our lives are the ages 16 to 21. Those years give us a headiness that comes from new freedom — a driver’s license — and the passing of the torch from strict childhood rules to more trust, different restraints and relaxed curfews.

When you add the opportunity to go off to college or move out on your own, we’re fooled into thinking that we’re mature enough and wise enough to make decisions that will affect the rest of our lives.

It’s scary. Read More»

The man who was

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Their histories, accurate and complete, are lost to time and buried with them and those who knew them. I wish I knew more for their stories would read like a page-turning novel.

The moonshining trio of Raymond Parks, Lloyd Seay and Roy Hall burst out of the north Georgia mountains from Dawson County in the 1930s to combine Seay’s and Hall’s driving skills with Parks’ business ingenuity to participate in a new sport that would become known as NASCAR. Read More»

Mama writes a book (or wants to)

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Dear Readers,

Everyone loved Mama. And they loved stories about her. This is a column written before her death but never published. I decided to share it to celebrate Mama. She was a true Southern original.

My worst fears are about to be realized: Mama has announced her intentions to write a book.

My payback is coming. Read More»

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