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Friday, May 6, 2016

Walking With Jackie the Ripper

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Several folks have mentioned that I seem to dwell in the past. That is true. I believe older people tend to do this, and if memories are the least bit happy it is not a bad thing. I have a lot of happy memories mixed in with the sad ones which the years lay on us all. More good than bad -- I thank God for that.

Here's another blast from the past, so if you don' t like this kind of reading I'd advise you to wad the paper up and throw it at the cat just as hard as you can.

Growing up in the '30s during the time now called the Great Depression (what in the world was so great about it I'll never know!) was not all bad. Surely it was not all good, but it wasn't all bad. One of the great pleasures of being a child in those days was that Mama stayed home and took care of us.

Most women did stay home back then to care for their families, and they didn't have a really easy time of it because we are talking here about a time before tranquilizers. Like kids today, kids then were not completely virtuous, contrary to what a lot of folks would have you believe, Mama's safety valve lay in bursting into tears at times of emotional stress, which seemed to occur rather frequently around our house. Many women did that.

One of the memorable ways she took care of us was to cook wonderful mouthwatering food on an old wood burning cook stove. Looking back I can but marvel at the many delicacies she produced in the bowels of that big black monster, because the door spring to the oven had long ago given up the ghost and the door refused to stay closed.

Mama had to prop it shut with a piece of stove wood wedged securely under the oven handle, and if you accidentally kicked the wood it usually would fall right on your shin and you'd get a hard blow on the skinny part of your leg. That hurt a lot, so we learned early on to stay away from the oven.

Times being what they were, jobs were lost quite frequently, especially in the city, and sometimes strangers showed up at our house for an extended visit. I always assumed they came to visit because mama was such a good cook. Even in those days when cooking was not the lost art it is today (I speak for myself), the news spread all over the county that "Clara sets a good table."

Is there anyone except me who cannot think of springtime without a vision of wilted lettuce and onions coming to mind? We used to have a dishpan full several times a week until the rabbits found the garden. But I must tell you my very favorite dish of all was green peas and new potatoes. It seemed Mama just could not fix enough to fill me up, and at the end of a meal when I saw the empty bowl I 'bout died.

When the aroma of her hot rolls escaped the kitchen anyone within smelling distance would be irresistibly drawn to the source. With lots of homemade butter melting and blackberry jam dripping, the gastronomical orgy which occurred in our kitchen just about every evening was enough to make us certain to be home by suppertime.

In case none of us every said it before, "Thanks, Mama."