‘Old time prepared food’ is incredible

Published 5:44 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Some memorable events in 1982 aroused my craving for “old time prepared” food.

But before I expound on that, let me tell you how I arrived on this subject.

I was assigned some FEMA work in Kansas City that year. But before I went out there I had to bring Ouida home from Pensacola Baptist Hospital following a successful surgery. A day before her release, one of the helicopters slid off the landing pad and fell several stories to the ground. The day after we brought her home I had to go back to Pensacola, jump on a plane and fly to Kansas City. So I was not around to learn of details of the fall.

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Here is how food gets into this.

One of my clients had to take residence with his parents because he was flooded out of his home. My initial contact with him was in his parents’ home.
Now, these folks lived several miles from the city in a country setting. When I got to the home his mother was plucking vegetables from her garden. Her manner of dress reminded me of the John Wayne movie “The Quiet Man,” which had its setting in Ireland. She wore a full pleated apron over her work clothes and sported a large brim bonnet. My client was helping her pick the vegetables and brought them to her where she cradled them in her outstretched apron. She said, “Come, we are going now to our cellar.”

When we stepped down in the cellar, I thought I had entered into a refrigerator. It was unbelievably “cool and refreshing” in that underground room. I had never seen so many fruits and vegetables stacked on shelves that extended from floor level almost to the ceiling. There were cabbage heads, Irish potatoes, eggplants, rutabagas, pickled cucumbers and peaches, numerous jars of honey and much, much more.

She insisted that I have lunch with them and I told her I would be delighted when her son and I returned from his flooded property. It took about an hour to inspect and scope his flood loss and when we returned to his mother’s home the entire house was filled with the tempting aroma of food cooking on the stove.

About six or eight members of his sister’s family came to eat, too. We sat around a big round table where I counted 14 chairs. All the vegetables were placed in bowls and in the center was a big bowl of what looked like chipped gravy. There was no meat. I was told to tear off a piece of her homemade bread and dip gravy over it. Then I was passed round, boiled potatoes, fried squash, boiled corn halves, eggplant and boiled kale. It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten. I was totally amazed how the “gravy on bread” sufficed for meat.

I apologized to them for having to “eat and run,” but I had other clients waiting on me to come and settle their losses. They insisted I return for supper and I did just that.

But that supper meal was not at all like the lunch meal. Actually, it was French Onion Soup. Now, this was a very delicious soup made with chicken stock and topped with cheese and croutons. A final touch to the soup was cooking it in the oven until the cheese hardens. Two slices of toasted bread added a rich fullness to the meal.

On my plane ride back home, I thought how basic and simple those vegetables were, yet when uniquely prepared by that lady, the taste of it all was out of this world. I thought, too, how the cellar kept the vegetables so fresh and tempting.

I thought, also, of my much younger grammar school days, growing up visiting and eating with friends living in the Spinterhill area just outside of Perdido. They, too, cooked and prepared meals just like this. Some of them had cool cellars, too.

Now, let’s take a look at a dap of news from 1966.

Ina Godwin purchased The Atmore Beauty Salon from Else Rhodes and Sears announced that Alvin Owens and Dewitt Bell would head up their new TV repair and carpet departments respectively.

Carps Department Store ran a special on bed sheets that year. You could buy one for $1.77 and get a matching pillowcase free.

Oh, by the way. About that helicopter falling, I learned no one was killed but the Internet account of it is not very revealing.

Finally, congratulations to Blakely Hendrix for adding another championship trophy to her repertoire of bow hunting collections. She recently captured the top spot in the Alabama Bow Hunters broad competition. You represented our area and the entire state very well.

We will have more news from years gone by next week.

You can email Lowell McGill at exam@frontiernet.net.