Friday, August 2, 2013


Cousin Jan wrote a nice note and added a thought about the tastes of our 1950's part of the world. You don't hear about this on the Food Channel or from the Italian or Jewish comedians talking about their neighborhoods, but it was our little slice of the world.

School picnics, 4-H picnics and other pot lucks were typical. You got together at the end of the year and, as Jan said, at the school picnic, everybody played baseball--young and old. Usually with the best baseball we could find which often had a bit of tape on it to hold the cover in place.

Then the smorgasbord of goodies brought by each family. We had a wicker picnic basket for the food and our "vittles." Fried chicken, potato salad and homemade pies.

I remember how surprised I was when I would bite into someone else's potato salad and find that it didn't taste at all like what I was used to. Norma made her own mayonnaise and that gave her potato salad a taste unlike anything else. All the foods had that in common, and not all the chicken, potato salad, apple pie and pumpkin pie was very good, but on balance, it was scrumptious.

Cucumbers and onions in an oil and vinegar brine. Lots of fresh vegetables, but the custom of the day was to boil vegetables, like green beans, to within an inch of their lives before serving. Everyone had gardens, so there was produce from there, for sure. Help me out, post some of the other foods we had.

Like Jan said, amazingly, nobody got sick. Imagine what the health department would do to gatherings like that today!


The Thanksgiving of 1952, my mother had an appendectomy and the wife of my dad's childhood best friend invited us for Thanksgiving dinner. What a treat! Turkey and all the trimmings. I love, love, love dressing, so I took a big glob, only to bite in and discover that it was oyster dressing.

Now, I don't like that stuff to this day, but as a seven-year old, I was mortified. It was awful, but it was not polite or allowed to say anything like a typical kid would say today, "(whine, whine) I don't LIKE it!" and I remember looking at my brother who was having the same reaction and the same problem.

I kept asking myself as I choked it down in silence, "Why did I take so much?"


I think I have written about this before, but when I worked in the hay fields of the Sandhills one summer, we would eat dinner at one hired hand's house and supper at the other, switch off next week. Breakfast was in the basement of the main house, near the bunk house. We were the bunk-house boys.

One wife was a terrible cook. She didn't know that you were supposed to drain the ground beef before you baked it into the casserole, so the result was swimming in a half-inch of liquid. It was noon, dinner, and we had two choices--take it or leave it. Long time to six o'clock when the pickup came around to fetch us from the meadow.

We ate it.

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