What being from southern Illinois means

Dillan Schorfheide, Assistant Sports Editor

It has come to my attention, since I was a freshman here at Eastern two falls ago, that a lot of people from the Ch icago area have no idea where I am from.

Not that I blame them any; us southerners visit Chicago because there are things to do there, no one says, “How about we go visit the corn fields of southern Illinois?”

If anything, my friends, and people I meet once, from Chicago may know where O’Fallon or Belleville are, or at least they know St. Louis. So I just say I am by those places.

My actual homestead is New Baden, population right around 3,300. Every time I mention that, everyone says, “That is so small!” Trust me, there are towns that have populations of 250 near New Baden.

More to the point, there are some common questions I receive from people about life down there, so I’ll address the biggest ones.

• How did you stay entertained?- No reactions or questions really irk me or “trigger” me when it comes to how rural my town is, but this one almost does after a while.

For some reason, it is a common belief that there is nothing down south.

My friends and I growing up did what most kids and teenagers do: hung out. Shocking, I know.

We may not be able to go to Chicago every weekend or every other weekend, but that is why you make friends. We would go to each other’s houses to chill, or to play video games, or to play backyard sports.

When we were younger, we would ding dong ditch, or play man hunt (neighborhood hide and seek) in parts of town. There is a park in New Baden and, just 5 miles to the north, Trenton (these two towns made up my high school, Wesclin): both parks had many baseball and softball fields, as well as playgrounds and running trails. Then during school, we played sports, performed in the band, etc.

So, we did what any other kid does. We could also go to St. Louis for a day. We are not aliens down there.

• Are you a “redneck”- No, and while I know people who could be considered such, it is pretty funny to hear everyone assume we are all farm boys and girls. I will admit I have caught a southern drawl slipping out of my mouth every now and then, but we do not all talk like we are from the deep south or something.

For example, I know some people have never heard the phrase “pitch it” to mean to throw something away, which is odd to me admittedly. But, like I said, not everyone down there talks like (or even likes to listen to) Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney.

NASCAR is not on everyone’s television every Sunday. Life is pretty easy-going. We are normal.

Honestly, most of the people in my graduating class (and high school in general) never lived on a farm. I will give it to you, though, corn is everywhere. So, for your sake, I would not assume anyone is a “redneck” because the wrong person will not take kindly to that.

How would you like it if we assumed everyone from the Chicago area was stuck-up, snobby, a pretty boy or too rich to care about others, or too privileged?

Yeah, exactly.

This is not me bashing anyone from Chicago. Like I said, I have friends from there and I love the city. This is just me addressing the two biggest questions I get about rural, southern Illinois.

It is funny and, it honestly catches me off guard, when someone assumes these things about where I am from and are shocked to hear that there is in fact life down there.

So, in conclusion, yes, we do have lives. No we are not all rednecks.

But, yes, corn is everywhere.

Dillan Schorfheide is a junior journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].