(Unless otherwise noted, the Kathryn Tucker Windham blog is written by her daughter, Dilcy Windham Hilley.)
My mother was fascinated with the English language. She loved words---their sounds, their usage, their meanings.
One words she was especially fixated on was grits. Mother regularly preached that grits is a singular noun. “This grits is hot.” “This grits is good.” She insisted that grits never “are.” She said, though it may sound peculiar to the ear, it is nonetheless correct, much like, “This corn is frozen,” or, “This okra is breaded just right.”
In Mother’s book, this was not a grammatical misstep. It was proper.
Mother took her “grits is” mission so far as to write the late syndicated columnist, James Kilpatrick, who had a weekly column called “The Writer’s Art” that ran in newspapers across the country. Mother pled her case for her cause, and Kilpatrick led one of his columns with her letter, proving to his audience the passion people have for English usage. I do recall he took neither side of the debate.
Grits can be an ordinary dish, or it can be impressively fancified. Waffle House grits is one thing, but the spell they put on grits at Birmingham’s Highlands Bar and Grill is quite another. No matter the form in which it’s served, bear in mind that it once was one woman’s quest to rid the world of the improper practice of pluralizing grits.
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"Some people are important to intellectuals, journalists, or politicians, but Kathryn Tucker Windham is probably the only person I know in Alabama who is important to everybody."
–Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn University.
Dilcy Windham Hilley
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