Cheeseburgers and Friday Night Biscuits Helped Me to Be What I Am Today
Have You Ever Noticed
that when we are young and carefree that hardly anything touches our lives to the extent as some delicious foods? I did not think this way until I was nearly age 11. I must take you back to my younger life from ages six to nine. When my family and I were not blessed with too much food in the cupboard and having too many left-overs meant tossing them all outside to our two pet dogs, “Frank” and “Button.” This last part was a pure fantasy.
In fact, and in everything holy and honest, I cannot remember (a) time when my family and ever had too much to eat, but by the same token, I cannot recall (a) time when we were facing starvation. We lived somewhere in between the two. But who was complaining? We had a roof over our heads, clothes to wear, so what else really mattered?
Even during my schooldays, food did not mean that much to me. But I do remember a certain Tuesday at lunch time at New Home School when I was in the third grade and my mother, bless her heart, gave me some sort of a sandwich that I ate with gusto, but the food that touche my senses were being eaten by my friend, Charles Deline. In his right hand, he was taking those moderate-size bites of a real bologna sandwich, the kind where the bologna peeks over each side of the loaf bread and his mother had taken the time to put mayonnaise on his sandwiches because she was my mother: very caring about her children.
I give you my word. My nameless sandwich lost its luster and I put half of it back into my lunch kit and had a better time watching Deline finish his two bologna sandwiches with mayonnaise. Two sandwiches. I only had one. But this did not mean that my mom loved me any less. She was being practical because she watched my eating habits and concluded that I ate more or less like a rattlesnake—eat a big meal every two days and then run and play while it digested. But there was “that” something about Deline and his bologna sandwiches with mayonnaise. Couldn’t forget that tasty condiment.
When I Arrived at Home
I took it on myself to start my personal negotiation with my mother to see if I could persuade her to buy us some bologna, any brand as long as it was good, just so I could take one or two for my lunch at school. I started, I believe, on a Tuesday and by Friday, she had given in to my concern about me not having any bologna and she felt that I had been robbed by not getting to chow-down like the other kids at New Home School. So it took me one more negotiation before my mom and dad bought the bologna for me to have for school lunch.
But Charles Deline was the exception. I didn’t know that until the next Wednesday when we went to lunch and I made it my business to watch Deline to see those bologna sandwiches hit the air and into his mouth. I pretended to be enjoying myself with my bacon and mustard sandwich that honestly, was not all that bad, but it did not compare with Deline’s bologna sandwiches, but he did not flaunt his blessing of having a better lunch than I and the other students. Factually, there was no animosity among our student body because we were all from the same background: farming and fighting poverty. I am not joking in the least.
Truth is never easy to face. Certainly like we had to face obstacles like not having enough groceries like the other families who had money from public jobs or from other jobs such as selling or moving out of state to take better jobs such as how the menfolk from northwest Alabama migrated to Detroit, Michigan, when the auto industry was young and men of all races, creeds, and nationalities could get jobs, good-paying jobs and have money for their homes, cars, and groceries.
As The Years Slowly Rolled by
I was blessed to eat bologna sandwiches (with mayonnaise) that my mom had made me for lunch at New Home School and I was so proud when lunch time came. Not because I wanted to be a show-off of my eating luxuries such as bologna sandwiches with mayonnaise (like Charles Deline) but just to sit back, slowly eat the sandwich that my mom had I had begged her and dad to buy for me and then it happened. I happen to look around the rest of my friends during a lunch time and I suddenly realized that there were more kids eating cold biscuits and bacon or biscuits with tomato, and they were Happy as clams! I felt so small and acted so selfish begging my parents to get me some of that precious bologna just so I could look equal to Charles Deline and my friends at New Home School.
When my family moved to main Hamilton, Ala., I had to eat at the Grammar School lunchroom and every day meant a different food. Monday was cold meat and warm potatoes and that sweet milk in pint boxes. Tuesday was hot dog day with potato chips. I loved Tuesdays just for lunch. Wednesday did not hold anything that special for me, so here came Thursday, my very favorite day of the week: hamburger day. The hamburgers came with french fries, and some vegetable-looking item and that sorry sweet milk in a pint box.
But it was the hamburgers that started to mold my life and still does at my age, 65. My wife can just mention that she wanted to cook cheeseburgers for a certain evening and I am as excited as a kid on Christmas morning running down the stairs to check underneath our Christmas tree to find how many gifts that I had. We did have a Christmas tree, but I had one gift; a Lionel train set that I played with so much that I wore down the tracks and I could not use the engine and boxcars because the electricity omitted from a power box would not penetrate the tracks to give me a solid flow or energy . . .so I had to put them away. Sad.
So Here is a Line-up
of what food favorites that I want to share with you. I just hope that some of these notions are yours as well.
(Above) Corned Beef Hash was one of my mother's favorite food items. My dad and I agreed. She had "that" special gift of how to take any food and make it into a banquet. I know. I ate plenty of this food and the other food items.
Cheeseburgers are for any day or night of the week. I am not choosy. My wife makes the biggest, greasiest, best-tasting cheeseburgers of all-time. She follows that with a few pounds of homemade fries and sweet tea. What a meal. There is hardly anything left. But if there is, we save it for the next meal. But my love for cheeseburgers went with me from childhood and my mom would make my family and I THE best cheeseburgers in the world. Mother was a very talented cook besides the BEST mom that a kid like me could have.
Homemade Chili is also good anytime, but when the summer becomes fall and then winter time, I tell you that when Pam (my wife) makes her “Hades Chili” it is Hot. Really hot. But I love it. I eat mine crumbled up with crackers and wash it down with southern iced tea. Sure there are left-overs that we eat for a couple of days because she cooks way too much for that solitary reason. She is a smart woman.
Fried Green Tomatoes, Green Beans, Garden Peas, Fried Squash and Cornbread, well, these foods that make me think of Heaven, possibly because I believe that items this good only belong in Heaven, and are delicious at any day of the week.
Southern Fried Chicken is arguably the best item is Sunday lunch after church. Or Saturday evenings or any evening of the ensuing week ahead. I even love cold fried chicken because when I was growing-up and we were blessed with fried chicken, we did not gobble it up. We ate until we were satisfied and saved the rest. When I was a teenager and running girls on weekends, my mom knew that I would be hungry when I would get home late on Friday and Saturday nights and if we had fried chicken, she would save a couple of pieces for me and leave it on our dining room table and I could sit there and enjoy myself as much as humanly-possible.
But the Very Best Food Item that I can possibly share with you is my mom’s left-over Cat-Head Biscuits with Bacon, Sausage, Gravy or pure Vidalia Onions. She would leave me some of these breakfast foods so I could have a Late Night Snack when my dating night was over. I have to confess that the Southern Fried Chicken, Cat-Head Biscuits, Ham, Bacon, or Sausage, and Fried Green Tomatoes, Green Beans, Garden Peas and Cornbread and of course that delicious Southern Sweet Tea helped me to hold myself from the cooking that my mom helped to mold my life on those Friday nights when I was a kid.
August 10, 2019____________________________________________________