Showing Archived Posts

Good Livin’ in the Alabama Black Belt

Posted March 9th, 2012 at 8:22 pm (UTC-4)

How’d a nice big piece of black-bottom pie taste right about now? I’m talking crunchy ginger-snap crust, thin layer of dark chocolate, whipped rum-cream custard filling, shaved chocolate topping, and mounds of real whipped cream. It’s an Alabama Black Belt specialty, along with steam-fried okra, fresh catfish, banana pudding, and so many other succulent treats […]

East is East, but Where’s the West?

Posted October 5th, 2011 at 10:55 am (UTC-4)

In “The Ballad of East and West,” British author Rudyard Kipling wrote what may be his most quoted line: “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”  Part of the line was borrowed by lyricist Ray Evans in an American song made popular by Dinah Shore in 1947.  “East is […]

Hard Times in the Country Country

Posted August 19th, 2011 at 6:24 pm (UTC-4)
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These are gloomy days in much of rural America.  One national newspaper described what it called a giant “rural ghetto.”  Another’s story, titled “America’s Failed Frontier,” concluded that the farm belt is steadily dying.  When we think about ghettos, we picture old, dilapidated inner-city communities.  But poverty and decay are rife in the country as […]

Riding the Old Roads — and Reminiscing

Posted July 22nd, 2011 at 2:48 pm (UTC-4)

There was once a Golden Age of automobile travel in the United States, when driving seemed carefree and scenic, and two-lane highways snaked across the countryside and right through the hearts of towns and cities. No slick “bypasses” in those days.  No siree.  The whole point was to funnel travelers and their dollars right past […]

The South, Homogenized

Posted April 27th, 2011 at 2:32 pm (UTC-4)
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Mississippi writer William Faulkner once remarked that in the American South, the past is never dead.  It’s not even past.  Defeated and largely impoverished by the nation’s Civil War a century-and-a-half ago, the South developed a distinctive culture that is studied and celebrated around the world. But that culture, which I soaked in with great […]

Shifting Middle America

Posted March 16th, 2011 at 2:14 pm (UTC-4)
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Imagine that every one of the 310,989,947 Americans — even babies, fat people, and the frail elderly — weighed exactly the same for statistical purposes. Make that every one of the 310,989,955 Americans.  The number ticks inexorably upward and will probably reach 310,990,000 before I’m through writing this, and, who knows, maybe 311,000,000 by the […]

Town Meetings and the Devil

Posted February 15th, 2011 at 2:17 pm (UTC-4)
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The image of New Englanders — the folks who live in America’s northeast corner — is one of people who don’t talk a lot. Stoic, quiet types who keep their thoughts to themselves. You’re lucky if you can get an old-time New Englander to say “ay-yup” or “nope.” But one day a year, the citizens […]

Mama — and Papa — Grizzlies

Posted January 31st, 2011 at 6:40 pm (UTC-4)
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Most likely, I don’t have to tell you who Sarah Palin is. The former Alaska governor and unsuccessful 2008 U.S. vice-presidential candidate, who is now a prominent voice in the conservative Tea Party movement, is one of America’s most famous — and controversial – women. Sorry, I just told you who Sarah Palin is. Some […]

Head Scratchers

Posted January 26th, 2011 at 7:37 pm (UTC-4)
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Normally I’m an organized Virgo of the sort who might alphabetize the soup cans in his pantry. So when I travel across country or just around town on the subway, you’d think I’d keep a neat notebook at hand, ready to jot down odd thoughts as they come to me. I have no such notebook, […]


Posted November 29th, 2010 at 2:31 pm (UTC-4)

A sure way to get a giggle out of your young child is to challenge him or her to SPELL “Mississippi” — and fast! M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I.    M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. It’s actually not as hard as it looks, once you get the rhythm of it. The Old South state of Mississippi, not the lazy “Old Man River” Mississippi, on […]

Ted Landphair


This is a far-ranging exploration of American life by a veteran Voice of America “Americana” reporter and essayist.

Ted writes about the thousands of places he has visited and written about as a broadcaster and book author. Ted Landphair’s America often showcases the work of his wife and traveling companion, renowned American photographer Carol M. Highsmith.

Ted welcomes feedback, questions, and ideas. View Ted’s profile. Watch a video about Ted and Carol by VOA’s Nico Colombant.

Photos by Carol M. Highsmith


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