SPRING HILL — Patti Stowe is looking for a few good people who lace their conversations with "y'all."
If you know the proper use of "all y'all" — that's the plural of "y'all," Stowe explains — all the better.
Stowe, a native of North Carolina, has launched the Carolina Club, the first state club in Hernando County of expats from south of the Mason-Dixon line, so far as she knows.
It joins the ranks of the New York Club, the Michigan Club, the Pennsylvania Club and groups of natives from many other locales — even from overseas, including the Philippines.
Stowe wants to gather residents who hail from either of the Carolinas. Her first organized dinner sit-down three months ago drew only four people. Each monthly event has attracted a few more.
She recently heard a woman ask "y'reckon?" in conversation at a store. Stowe pounced, asking from where the woman hailed.
Close enough, Stowe figured.
She's thinking of opening the club to anyone from the South, but wants the membership to vote on it.
The group meets at 5:30 p.m. the last Monday of every month at Pit Boss B-B-Q, 2270 Commercial Way, just north of the Hernando-Pasco county line, "because they do serve Southern, Carolina barbecue," Stowe said. "It's vinegar based, with hot sauce, not red sauce."
The location also makes it handy for Pasco residents who might be interested in joining.
Reservations are not necessary, but those who prefer to show their Southern politeness may call Stowe at (352) 428-0884. At the restaurant, the 66-year-old club leader can be identified by her Tar Heels ball cap.
"We just sit there and eat and talk," said Stowe, who relishes what she calls Carolinians' traits. "They are polite and courteous; there's a real warmth about them."
Most Floridians aren't true Southerners because they've moved here from so many far-flung places, she said. Yes, service-sector employees have picked up the charm of calling a customer "dear" or "honey." But the realm of Southern hospitality seems to be learned from the crib, said Stowe, who makes these observations from seven years living in Naples and five years in Spring Hill.
She said she has found it difficult to meet new people in Florida.
"They don't get to know their neighbors," she said. That's why she started the club.
Stowe, a retired civil employee of the military and now a part-time writer, says she's interested in meeting and talking with "anybody who has a Southern drawl like I do."
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]