Definition of South, Southern Is Changing

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CARY, N.C. (AP) -- The joke around here is that this town's name is really an acronym for ''Containment Area for Relocated Yankees.'' As far as Vernon Yates is concerned, they haven't been contained well enough.

Nearly surrounded by pricey subdivisions, the cinderblock Yates Grocery and Farm Supply sells neither anymore. As if things weren't bad enough, style maven Martha Stewart has chosen this Raleigh suburb to build a signature neighborhood of houses designed after her homes in Maine and New York.

Holding court near a potbellied stove, the 69-year-old man in the suspenders and NASCAR shirt laments that his old customers have been replaced by fast-talking, SUV-driving Northerners who don't seem to be able to read a STOP sign.

''It's all gone,'' Yates, pausing for another spit of tobacco juice, says of the Southern town of his youth. ''Everything is completely different from what it used to be.''

Things are indeed changing in the South. And so is the notion of what it means to be ''Southern.''

In this most maligned and mused-upon of American regions, the term conjures a variety of images. Magnolias, front porch swings and sweet tea for some; football, stock cars and fried chicken for others; lynchings, burning crosses and civil rights marches for still others.

We've had the Solid South, the Old South and the New South.

But are we heading toward a ''No South''?

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