Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Social Status

First of all, let me say that the post title may be a bit misleading. I don't give rat's ass about social status. I could quite easily become a hermit and never leave the farm. Now, that being said, I have an interesting conversation to relate.

There is a local gentleman who is regarded as the county historian (he's written a few books and I have been trying unsuccessfully to get him to write one on Wheeler's Raid). He's been involved in politics for several years now and his very opinionated and not at all afriad to offend people with his opinions, which is a bit odd in this day and age. This has won him both friends and enemies, here at at home as well as in Atlanta.

I dropped by his office one day a couple of years ago to shoot the shit and we naturally got to taking about county history, whereupon he made this statement: "Fifty years ago, it was very easy to tell someone's social status in the community by where they went to church."

"How so?" I asked

"Well, it's really quite simple, the Baptists worked in the mills, the Methodists ran the mills, the Presbyterians owned the mills and the Episcopalians bankrolled the mills."

I was somewhat taken aback by this, but after thinking it over I saw that whether you agreed with it or not, there was a certain logic to it. I then asked him what about other religons, such as Catholics or Jews. The answer to that was also logical, there simply weren't enough in this area to effect the status quo.

I told him that I only had one concern about his statement. "What's that?"

"My family started out Presbyterian, became Methodists in the late 1800s and then Baptists in the 1930s. We seem to be moving backwards down the ladder."