In the late 1940s (1946-1950) my Methodist Minister Father was assigned to the Lynmore Methodist Church in Macon, Georgia.
One evening my Parents invited Mother’s cousin Felix Johnson (who was stationed at Warner Robins Air Force Base there in Macon) and his family to have supper with us.
Mother and Dad had planned a nice meal but all of it had not yet been cooked, as this was to be done at the last minute.
However, nature intervened; a thunder booming thunderstorm such as only can happen in middle Georgia, rolled in and knocked out the electricity.
The food that was already prepared was served, but it wasn’t enough!
Billie Johnson, Felix’s wife, had the answer. In a twinkling, by the light of candles, she introduced me to the joys and delights of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! Remember me? the picky eater? I had never had such a sandwich before and I definitely thought it was the best thing ever. I kept Billie busy for quite awhile making more PB&J!
WHEN MY PARENTS WERE BRIDE AND GROOM , SERVING THEIR FIRST PASTORAL APPOINTMENT TOGETHER, THE AMERICUS CIRCUIT, DAD HAD BEEN WORKING WITH MOTHER ON HER COOKING SKILLS AND THEY DECIDED SHE WAS READY TO PREPARE A DINNER PARTY.
THEY INVITED ONE OF DAD’S MINISTER FRIENDS AND HIS WIFE TO JOIN THEM AND SO ON THE APPOINTED EVENING, THEY WERE READY TO ENJOY THE MEAL THAT MOTHER HAD PREPARED.
MOTHER HAD WORKED AND WORKED TO CLEAN THE LITTLE PARSONAGE AND MAKE IT SHINE FOR GUESTS. SHE PLACED WILDFLOWERS IN THE TWENTY VASES SHE HAD RECEIVED AS WEDDING GIFTS AND SET THE TABLE WITH HER WEDDING CHINA AND SILVERWARE.
SHE HAD DECIDED TO SERVE A SOMEWHAT EXOTIC DISH AS THE MAIN COURSE AND SHE HAD CONSULTED THE ONLY COOKBOOK SHE HAD AS TO HOW IT SHOULD BE PREPARED. IT WAS CALLED SCALLOPED EGGPLANT.
REMEMBER, THESE WERE THE LATE 1930S AND FEW, IF ANY, APPLIANCES AND LABOR SAVING DEVICES INHABITED THE KITCHEN.
HOWEVER, MOTHER DUTIFULLY MADE A WHITE SAUCE AND POURED IT OVER THE EGGPLANT IN THE BAKING DISH AND TOOK IT TO THE TABLE.
WHEN THE MINISTER FRIEND SERVED HIMSELF AND TRIED TO TAKE A BITE HE DISCOVERED THAT THE EGGPLANT WAS STILL RAW! GENTLY HE ASKED, “GRACE, HOW LONG DID YOU COOK THIS IN THE OVEN?” PUZZLED SHE REPLIED, “IN THE OVEN? I DIDN’T COOK IT IN THE OVEN, I THOUGHT POURING THE WHITE SAUCE OVER IT WOULD COOK IT!”
THE MINISTER AND DAD NEVER LET MOTHER FORGET THAT MOMENT THE REST OF THEIR LIVES!
“They courted over the pansy patch. . .”
We are taking a few steps back today to provide more backgound for cooking and eating.
When my Parents first married, in 1936, my Mother could not really cook. Her Stepmother preferred to do the cooking herself so Mother was reduced to being able to make fudge on a hotplate on Friday afternoons. That was fine with my Dad; he loved to cook and had done a lot of it being of of the oldest of his eight brothers and two sisters.
Before they married Mother was teaching in a small town outside of her hometown of Tifton, Georgia, and living in a teacherage with several other teachers. Dad was the Methodist Minister and lived by himself in the Parsonage. The Parsonage yard adjoined the schoolyard. She and Dad had already started courting (every Friday night Dad drove the teachers into Tifton to see a movie and Mother had started always sitting on the front seat with him.) Every day Dad made it very convenient to be hoeing his flowerbed of pansies when Mother brought her students out to pay at recess! They courted over the pansypatch!
The teachers took turns cooking the evening meal for them all to eat. This spelled trouble for Mother; she could not cook! Dad said comforting words; he had a solution:
when it was time to cook supper for the group he slipped into the kitchen at the teacherage and cooked a fine meal! THEN, he went out of the back door and came in the front door to eat with them! cooking and
i WAS BORN INTO TWO FAMILIES THAT LOVED GOOD FOOD AND LOVED TO EAT!
MY FATHER CAME FROM A LARGE FAMILY AND FROM MY EARLIEST MEMORIES THERE WERE FAMILY GATHERINGS WITH LOTS OF GREAT FOOD, INCLUDING FOOD THAT THEY HAD GROWN, HUNTED FOR, COOKED AND BROUGHT TO ENJOY.
ON MY MOTHER’S SIDE THERE ONLY MY GRANDPARENTS, BUT THEY, TOO, LOVED GOOD FOOD AND PROVIDED IT IN ABUNDANCE. MY GRANDMOTHER WAS A GREAT COOK WHO HAD LIVED AND COOKED THROUGH THE DEPRESSION SO SHE WAS VERY FRUGAL WHILE STILL SETTING A SUMPTIOUS TABLE.
LET ME SAY THAT IN MY EARLY YEARS I WAS A VERY PICKY EATER; I CAUSED MY MOTHER TO DESPAIR OVER EVER GETTING ME TO EAT. I RECALL THAT SHE WOULD REMINISC ABOUT THAT PERIOD OF MY LIFE AND WOULD REMIND ME THAT IN DESPERATION SHE WOULD USE PLATES THAT HAD FLOWERS ON THEM AND THAT I WOULD TELL HER THAT I WOULD EAT THE FOOD IF SHE PUT IT RIGHT ON THE ROSES!
I DID NOT DISCOVER THE JOYS OF EATING UNTIL A FAMILY FRIEND MADE ME A LETTUCE SANDWICH WHEN I WAS VISITING IN HER HOME. YES, IT WAS ACTUALLY TWO SLICES OF BREAD WITH MAYONNAISE AND SOME LETTUCE IN THE MIDDLE! I FOUND THAT TO BE THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I HAD EVER PUTIN MY MOUTH AND BEGGED HER TO MAKE ME ANOTHER ONE! THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF MY ADVENTURES WITH FOOD; THERE WAS MUCH MORE YET TO COME!