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Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

Walking With Jackie the Ripper

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Many times when Jackie and I share a bacon biscuit at the local Chile Burger deja vu hits me right between the eyes. Back I go some 60-odd years to the Ozark Mountains and the tiny kitchen of my great-grandmother Bryan, and I'm about 5 years old.

A large, black, wood-burning stove occupies one corner of the little room, with a small table, four chairs and a pie safe completing the furnishings. (Without doubt that pie safe would be worth a small fortune on today's market!)

I don't remember a cabinet of any kind but surely she had one. I do remember pulling one of the old chairs up to the stove so as to reach the handle of the warming oven where leftover biscuits and bacon were stored. The bacon lay in a bed of melted grease on a small, heat-cracked platter, and the biscuits were usually found in an old black cooking pan. Sometimes if I was lucky there would be leftover fried potatoes alongside the bacon, sharing the greasy gravy, but not often. Fried potatoes were usually all eaten when they were hot.

After confiscating a couple of biscuits and a fistful of bacon my next step was to go to the garden for several green onions and some little round radishes. Grandma Bryan grew the long, white icicle type, too, but I was partial to the red ones.

I never bothered with more than a rudimentary cleansing of the garden produce, like brushing the dirt off the radishes and sorta peeling the roots from the onions a bit. You see, early in life I had been advised by an older sibling that before a person could get into Heaven it was necessary for them to consume a peck of dirt, and I wanted to get that chore out of the way early on. You may think of me as having been an extremely gullible child, and perhaps I was, but I have always felt like I was on probation with the Lord and I have ever helped my chances when I got the opportunity.

After I collected my meal I usually sat on the porch step to eat, and sometimes it was a problem keeping her chickens brushed off. The hens kept by my great-grandmother were what are now known as "free range" for they had never seen the inside of a pen and they proved to be a big nuisance to me since they wouldn't or couldn't understand that I didn't want to share my food with a flock of assorted fowls. In addition to the chickens Grandma had guineas, several ducks, and a few turkeys. At one time she had some geese, but they proved to be life threatening and they soon saw the inside of the oven.

If you ever see me in the Chile Burger looking a bit sad it may be that I am eating a bacon biscuit and thinking of that old poem, "Backward, turn backward, oh time in thy flight. Make me a child again, just for tonight."