Burgers, Please Forgive Us
And What a Shame
it was to just run on all-fours with mouths wise-open displaying molars and incisors just wanting to be first to devour something called a hamburger. Right. A hamburger. Not a blond who mirrored Marilyn Monroe. Not a lost briefcase containing $5,000.00 in small bills. But a great-smelling piece of meat placed between two equally-great smelling pieces of buns, throw in catsup, mustard, onions, and a few pickles and you have arguably The Number One food source in America. Maybe the world.
I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute if hamburgers are so many in their amount that if the hamburger was a Communist country, no nation, (not even us), would be able to “go to war”with them. No pun intended. But sadly, hamburgers, although numerous, are not Communist countries, but slowly and surely, we are being lured into this euphoric sense of peace that no other substance (legal or illegal) can match. We get ready, get our wife or girlfriend into our car and head for the nearest burger joint. Then a fight breaks-out.
“Why are you lambasting me, dear?” I ask and having to drive at the same time.
“You are stopping at “that” low-class burger hole!” my girlfriend, or now, EX-girlfriend bellows as I stop in the burger restaurant and invite my former girlfriend to get out. She is stunned. But being the gentleman that I am, I toss her a twenty for cab fare and I am ready to eat a meal of fine food and have a big glass of sweet tea and stay in this burger restaurant as long as I want. I’ve been here before “without” my former girlfriend.
Let’s Be Serious Right Now
although my beginning would be seen as something that Mickey Spillane would have written in one of his best-selling books, alas, I am not Spillane and do not claim to be. But I am here to talk with you about a very sad time when I was seven. Oh, I do not want anyone to shed tears of sadness for me, but maybe you could force a smile because this hub is built by real life. And we all know that real life is not all goody, goody, two shoes. Right?
Real life is just that, real. No tricks. No gimmicks. No shady back room confidence games meant to rob the innocent of their silver, clothes, and soul. Real life. I knew what real life meant at age seven and the lesson that I learned was both eye-opening and humbling. Life is like that sometimes—getting a two for one deal with only one quarter.
You can believe this or not, but it really happened. I have told you more than one time that I did most of my growing-up in a poverty-stricken, back woods, center of rural northwest Alabama in Marion County, if you want to look it up. In fact, I urge you to do so.
My family and I lived in a $10-dollar shack with a tin roof. My dad was a farmer and my mom was the best homemaker anywhere around. My sister was married-off as some say, and me? I was stuck alone in the family of one dad and mom. The food was scarce, but we had love. But early on, I realized that love although is necessary to live in life, does not feed a stomach. Therein is the two-sided lesson that accompanies this part of the story.
We lived a simple life. No frills. Not much of anything by way of excitement. Maybe a rat snake or two crawling through our yard, but my folks did not want me to play with it although it wasn’t poisonous, my mom said that snakes are of the devil and made me swear to never handle them again. Note: no religious implications are meant by this last statement.
Now For The Discussion
of what we had for our meals? Actually I am ashamed to answer you. But most folks around our neck of the woods as well as most of Hamilton, Al., ate about the same kind of food, so no one rode any higher on the horse than anyone else. A pretty good lifestyle, but you can get real hungry if you were like me. And I was hungry, but played too much in our yard (with hardly any grass) to think about eating to worry about it.
Being that I was too young to attend school, I just ate little as possible for breakfast because I loved to play outside making my own imaginary games, feeding our mule, “Frank” and “Button” my dogs and I loved to see them eat. But that is just as far as the subject of eating went. For dinner (supper in rural Alabama in my early years) we had all vegetables except for the cornbread. There were peas, green beans, potatoes, and for dessert, mom’s apple pie. But at my young age, I could not stand veggies, so I just ate a few bites of pie and disappeared to head outside.
At supper (dinner for city folk) we ate most the same food as was dinner. Except not much apple pie to serve because my dad, who loved to farm, was one more good eater and enjoyed every bite. After supper, we listened to the radio as long as the airwaves did not get lost in the static, then it was bedtime at or around 7 p.m., I said it. 7 p.m. Would you do that? Unless you worked from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., would you be able to go straight to bed when it was daylight?
What you may or may not have noticed that at our meal times, there was no meat. Sure, we had chickens, but only one per month was used as meat for our meal and that was it. But even with meat on the table, I did not eat any because it was a conflict for the vegetables that I was forced to eat. There were many times that I would take a break from playing and sit down on my front porch and think about something that my sister mentioned a few weeks ago. . .hamburgers. She was sharing a story about her friends in Hamilton, Al., High School getting to go to a place called Green’s City Cafe on west north square in Hamilton and yes, they did eat the food of the year: hamburgers.
We were ready and seated in our 1950 Ford. We were all excited. It was a first for all of us. Getting to eat a delicious hamburger. No greens or cornbread for us tonight. We were a little fearful of going to town to be seen in Green’s Cafe because we did not want other people to think that we were trying to climb the Ladder of Rural Society. But sometimes, you just have to go with your feelings, and this is what we decided to do was head to Green’s and put a tasty hamburger in our mouths.
The Waiting Was Like
an eternity waiting for our hamburgers. We had glued our eyes to the big clock on the wall that had the wording, “Green’s Cafe,” in the middle of the dial just so people would not forget this eatery. And finally, the waitress came, smiling and balancing our burgers on her arms. She did to an amazing job to be a kid, age 17, I guessed. But a small boy (like me) should not have had such thoughts about a pretty female like the waitress.
We unwrapped our burgers that were still sizzling and we waited to savor the aroma of the ground chuck that was on our buns. My appetite was growing. I was a bit scared. We had never had this much meat and now there it was in front of us to have for our supper. And with the first bite, we all started chewing slowly in order to take in the great taste. Even the other diners, the cook, the 17-year-old waitress and Mr. Green, who was sitting at the counter near the front door, he chuckled at the sight we were producing.
An hour later, we just sat there and allowing our food to digest. Dad took out his wallet and had more than enough money to buy our burgers. He had sold another bale of cotton to a Mr. Shelby in the eastern side of our county, but that was put aside and we strolled out the door. I think that it was our mom who talked first. She looked at our dad and in a most-pleasant, southern belle-tone of voice said, “When can we eat another one?” My sister and I were shocked to hear our mom being so bold with our dad, but he only smiled and said something in her ear that we couldn’t hear, but we felt as if we had not seen the last of our Hamburger Experience and Green’s Cafe.
In the years that came forward, my sister married and her husband went to work for a huge factory in a nearby town. I was left with my mom and dad, but my dad did buy a TV and in 1962, we could watch entertaining shows like “Gunsmoke,” “Dragnet,” and such, plus we got to watching a talk show that ran for half hour from between 2 and 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and on this show, the host gave a Recipe of The Week for people to watch and learn a new dish to prepare.
You guessed it. I was hypnotized by this man from Detroit, MI, who was a burger expert and I just had to write down his burger recipe. As I wrote the ingredients, I knew that I could do this as well as him. I was right. I took a pound ofand mixed it up with a whole white onion and two garden peppers and rolled out the burger patties and cooked them slowly until I knew that they were all well-done. My wife and daughter loved them. And I had to credit my dad for buying the TV in 1962 for us to watch shows and cooking recipes. ground chuck
And as for what uses that I learned from the Burger Recipe, I learned that I could also make my burger mixture into a tasty meatloaf that I would serve with mashed potatoes with brown gravy and serve it with Grecian rolls and sweet tea.
But the one thing was missing. The one thing that would help to make my family’s burgers, meatloaf, and pork chop recipes so very good . . .it was “that” scary and delightful feeling that we all got from the first time that we visited Green’s Cafe and ate our first hamburger.
October 4, 2019____________________________________________________
A Simple Poll:
Do You Like Grilled or Restaurant Burgers Best?
© 2019 Kenneth Avery