Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Small Town Youth

Sometimes I think nostalgia may be my middle name; sometimes I remember happy times, and sometimes I remember sad times. This is not to imply that I live in the past, rather I seem to bring the past into my present life by remembering. For instance, the harness racing festival in neighboring Hawkinsville is right around the corner. My memory is vivid about a “sideline job” of selling Coca Colas at the old track. “Heeeyyyyy! Git yore ice cold Co Colas! Right here! Only ten cents!” The loud chant rang out as I walked the old steps of concrete, selling the famous cups of soft drinks. Even at that early age, I envisioned that advertising helped to sell my product; even if the advertising was the high pitched voice of a young boy trying his best to sell as many cokes as possible. In those days the horses trotted around the track as the county fair took place just outside of the stands.
The Ferris wheel rolled over and over, the Merry-go-Round went in an endless circle, and the relentless voices of the side-show and game barkers called out for the nickels and dimes of those walking the fairgrounds, “Hey buddy, come over here and shoot the ducks. Win that pretty girl a Teddy Bear!” Not too far from there one might call out “Come on in and see Jo Jo the dog-faced boy! He walks! He talks! He crawls on his belly like a reptile. Only fifty cents! Step right up here!”
In those earlier times, young children could walk all the way to the fairgrounds without fear or concern on the part of the child or the parents. One could go swimming in a favorite watering hole such as Bembry’s Mill, Fountain’s Mill or at Limestone Creek. One could say they went swimming at Mock Springs, however anyone familiar with that place knew they were lying. That water was too cold—coming out of a fresh spring. One could jump in, but they would quickly exit. Goose bumps came to the surface of the skin abruptly. No one could stay long enough to swim.
In those days we completed twelve years of school in the same building. There was no lunchroom in those days, but school turned out for a lunch period sufficiently long enough to run from the campus all the way to “Eddie’s Green Grill.” Once there, you could purchase two of the best tasting hamburgers, and a coke for a quarter. A quick stop at Jones Bakery on the way back, two doughnuts or two cinnamon rolls could be bought for ten cents. A quick jaunt back to the school grounds, eating the dessert on the way, a boy could be back in his desk in plenty of time. My mother worked long and hard at the old Superba Cotton Mill in order to leave four boys thirty-five cents apiece each morning. I sure would enjoy one of Eddie and Ruby Dunn’s hamburgers or one of those Jones’ Cinnamon rolls today.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Donuts, Comfort Food

The red light is on! Head up that hill! I feel the need for the ultimate comfort food!
Anyone who is into donuts knows what red light I’m talking about. For the unlearned, it is of course, Krispy Kreme’s red light giving off the signal that fresh hot donuts are in the house and for sale to those who get there in time.
Much is made today about comfort foods, and most are off base. Sheila fixed us some dumpling soup the other day that had red things and green things in it along with chicken and creamy soup out of the Campbell’s can. She put some garlic and other veggies in it and it was lip-smacking good, but when she referred to it as comfort food, I knew she’d been watching the food channel too much. Now, lest some of y’all try to misquote me on this and say something that is different from what I am saying to the love of my life, let me re-iterate. It was lip-smacking good!
But, real comfort food is hot donuts—the kind where you bite into it and hit a sugar pocket—like the kind Jones Bakery used to make when I was a mere young’un. Oh! If there is a heaven on earth, it would have to be a bakery like Jones Bakery was. They probably never measured their sugar, and no doubt when they stirred it in the big pan, they never tried to get the sugar perfectly distributed. I was so good at figuring those donuts out with the sugar pockets, I could look through the case window and pick out a couple of the perfect ones. Now that is what I call a trained eye. Not only that! The dadgummed things didn’t cost but a nickel. Now that’s comfort food!
When our children were young, Jones Bakery was long gone—probably assigned to make donuts in Heaven—but we found out about a bakery in Eastman that made a “run for the money” attempt at making donuts like those from my youth, but they cost more than a nickel apiece. It wasn’t any trouble getting the kids up on Saturday morning to work in the garden, because we were going after real comfort food. A gallon of milk and a couple of dozen donuts and we were in good shape to work in the garden.
Krispy Kreme has a rival, who I will not name in this column, but suffice it to say that they were ordered to cut back on the sugar in their donuts a couple of years ago and it was almost like trying to eat cardboard. I complained and was told by the manager that I should contact the company. Not my job! Krispy Kreme was only a few blocks away, and they have a red light that is turned on when their donuts are hot. Besides that, if you buy a dozen when they’re hot you get the second dozen at half price.
Now that’s comfort food! Tell me what your favorite comfort food is.