A trip through the past

May 21, 2013

A housefull of home folks, Sunday dinner.

A housefull of home folks, Sunday dinner.

Had a wonderful, wonderful trip back home over the weekend, and a couple of fine meals, as well.

The above would be a view which covers maybe half the people who were eating dinner following the Homecoming service at Liberty United Methodist Church in Camden, TN, on Sunday.  The fellowship hall, maybe a 40 x 80 room, did not have an empty seat; some folks scattered out to the Sunday School classrooms.

Back in the center back of this photo, you can see two of my kids’ heads. But you can see us all better in this one, taken after dinner.

From left, Child C, AGC2, Self, AGC3, AGC1, Child B, Child A. A fine-looking crew, if I do say so myownself.

From left, Child C, AGC2, Self, AGC3, AGC1, Child B, Child A. A fine-looking crew, if I do say so myownself.

Amazing Grandchild 3, who was somewhat underwhelmed with the whole thing, was snoozin’. AGC 1 was her general whirlwind self, and managed at one time to color on a pew and the sanctuary door with a marker before we snagged her. AGC 2 ate. A lot. And smiled. A lot.

And I had a marvelous time, and got to see a lot of old friends and kinfolk.

The food was as plentiful as I remember. There’s a counter separating the kitchen from the seating area, about four feet wide, and every square inch of it was packed with food. Fried chicken. Baked ham. Meat loaf. Barbecue. Casseroles of every description. Green beans. Creamed corn. Sweet potatoes. Potato salad. Cole slaw. Salads, both fruit and green. Cornbread. Rolls. Biscuits. I touch only a tiny portion of the abundance that was there.

Desserts and drinks took up four 10-foot folding tables of their own, elsewhere around the room.

It certainly did not matter to be the last in line. They were NOT going to run out of food. Except for deviled eggs. I hated that. Guess I’ll have to make me some this afternoon, being I have a gracious plenty of eggs. Oh, and they ran out of the cherry cream cheese pie, which was always one of my favorites (cream cheese, condensed milk, cherry pie filling, among other things), so I contented myself with two kinds of fruit salad.

One of the fruit salads was the indestructible “green stuff” — as a child, I discovered early you could divide all congealed salads into “green stuff” and “pink stuff,” depending on what kind of Jell-O you used. The green stuff had lime Jell-o, Cool Whip, crushed pineapple, and mini-marshmallows. The other salad was fruit cocktail with the addition of bananas and strawberries, with a dressing made of the juice from the fruit cocktail, a can of cherry pie filling, and a box of vanilla instant pudding.

I have probably not had either dessert in 10 years. It will probably be 10 years before I have, or want, either one of them again. And they were wonderful.

We, with our grass-fed beef and our locavore culture and our bent toward natural food, mostly disdain the 50s and 60s food with which we grew up. I suspect Campbells sells, by an order of magnitude, many fewer cans of cream of mushroom soup, for example, than it ever used to. (And by the way, for a stroll down memory lane of some of that “retro food,” check out this link my friend Terre shared with me. It’s a hoot. But one of those salads bears a marked resemblance to the “green stuff.”

My roast pork and baked beans and German potato salad went over well. There were about two servings each of them left; with silent apologies to my mother, I chunked them. I’d already transported ’em 300 miles to serve ’em; I wasn’t about to transport ’em 300 miles back.

AGC 1 supervises flag-raising.

AGC 1 supervises flag-raising.

After lunch, a few of us gathered back in the sanctuary for the dedication service for the new flagpole that’s recently been erected in the cemetery, to honor the 58 veterans who are buried there (including my father). It did my heart good to see Mr. Fred Hudson, a dear friend of my father’s (in fact, back in the day, he pitched for the church baseball team, while my daddy caught. Daddy always contended he had as hard a fast ball as any he’d ever caught.) raise the American flag from that pole for the first time.

AGC1 at Great-Grandpa's grave.

AGC1 at Great-Grandpa’s grave.

AGC 1 “met” her great-grandpa for the first time. She seemed quite entranced by the flag at his grave. Then she took off at a dead run among the gravestones, her mother in hot pursuit, and for a minute I was 8 again, chasing lightning bugs amid the headstones at dusk.

Yeah, you can go home again. You might not could stay…but you can visit. I highly recommend you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em do that.


2 Responses to “A trip through the past”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Glad to see you ALL made it back to Camden. Good looking bunch I agree. Just had a meal today that reminded me of my maternal grandmother’s cooking. Main feature was a fried chicken that had the floured semi-crisp outer crust that was so perfect that you think is extinct. Not the hard crust of the fried chicken we love now. This had a dark browned crust that was not quite crunchy but so fine. Help me explain it?

  2. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Disclaimer: I am NOT a fryer of chicken. But as I recall, the technique was to dust it in seasoned flour — NOT the flour, then egg, then more flour or crumbs technique, nor the batter that a lot of chicken places use, and then fry it in about a quarter- to a half-inch of oil, with a lid on for part of the time. Once the liquid that has cooked out of the chicken is going to, you take the lid off and turn up the heat to give the crust a little crispness. I think. But again, I am not a fryer of chicken!

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