David Lauderdale’s recent column “Hotdogs, Loaf Bread aren’t for Poor People” summed it up in a ‘nutshell’ in his last paragraph: “NO, hot dogs on loaf bread ain’t ‘poor’, but it’s a ‘poor’ state of affairs if somebody thinks so.”
True, true, because we should be appreciative to even ‘have’ the loaf bread. It’s better than none at all. Besides that, some folks prefer a slice of bread instead of a hotdog bun, saying, “If I’d wanted bread I’d went to the bakery” pointing out that too much bun overpowered the weiner.
His story, in jest, referred to different phases of life I imagine a lot of us ‘over-the-hill’ gang have experienced. I, for one, can attest to that, but, I never at any time felt poor. It just meant utilizing what was at hand until better came along. Remember those ‘hand-pumped’ for water ‘pitcher pumps’ as they were called and all of those ‘outhouses’ with the half-moon cut in the door?
As children we never went without, were always clean and clothed and “so what” if we ate chicken feet? I loved fresh chicken feet at the end of ‘butchering-chicken-day’ that had been cleaned, boiled tender, seasoned, floured and fried. My goodness, what a crispy treat. Same thing went for cleaned, seasoned, floured and fried pieces of chitlins’ (chitterlings) at the end of ‘hog-butchering-day’. Now days, most folk would balk at the idea of eating either of these items and exclaim, ”Yuck”, but I say, “Don’t knock it ‘til you try it!”
After school snacks at home most always included a left-over biscuit with a hole poked in it with your finger and filled with some of daddy’s home-made cane syrup. Another satisfying treat was a trust-worthy baked sweet potato. Daddy always had banks of sweet potatoes to tide the family over ‘til next planting season and always had a pan ‘fresh out the oven’ of the wood stove on hand. Little did we realize how healthy we were actually eating, with all the vitamins, fiber and low density carbohydrates that boosted our energy. Some times when classmates Virginia Pinckney and Louise Boulware (as they were known back then) would drop in after school, we’d jazz a sweet potato up with chocolate syrup drizzled all over it. Right tasty.
Even to this day I always have a supply of baked sweet ‘taters bagged and stored in the freezer for a quick side-dish, and since I don’t have my daddy’s supply to ‘bank’ on (no pun intended), it’s a real treat when a local grocer runs them on sale at .39 or .49 cents per lb. That means ‘stock-up’ time. You see, when you’re raised conservatively, (living off of what’s at hand), you still appreciate a good sale and ‘jump-on-it.’
Deloris Cooler says she remembers her grandmamma -- mah-mah -- would mash up a hot baked sweet ‘tater, fry up some ‘streak-o-lean’, drizzle the grease over it and make a meal ‘fit-for-a-king.’ We most always had fresh caught fried mullet and grits for supper with ours.
My older sister, Carolyn, and I shared a bedroom with no air conditioning, but thankfully had four full-length windows that always stayed open in the summer time for any of the slightest breeze that would waft through along with the odor of cows bedded down in the field right outside our windows making their lowing sound while ruminating their daily fill of eaten grass.
When some of those nights were just too hot to fall asleep, we’d sneak in the kitchen where sister would peel, slice, and fry up some of the best French fries ever eaten for a midnight snack.
Thinking back, nostalgia brings those summer odors and sounds back to life again, all the while making me appreciate my AC now.
Hard times then, were good times now, when we pause to remember and reflect on them.
Contributor Jean Tanner is a lifetime rural resident of the Bluffton area and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.