Friday, August 21, 2009

Remembering My Other Sister

This past week, the oldest of my two sisters was laid to rest, some 29 years after Cleo passed away.
Strangely to me, not too many people seemed to know about Thelma, better known to my three brothers, Cleo and I as “Sister.” It seems that many older girls in families were tagged with the nickname of Sister. As a matter of fact, my mother was known—she being the oldest girl in her family—as “Sis.”
One person, after having read in the obits about Thelma told me they thought we were just all boys in our family. Well, they didn’t have football during the time Meredith and Jamie, my two older brothers were in school, therefore it has been common for many people to think Billy aka “Crow” and I were the only siblings in our family. One thing I am proud of is that all four brothers and my two brothers-in-law are veterans, three of us having served in the Navy, two in the Army and one in the Air Force. Thelma and Walstein Odom settled in Barnesville, south of Griffin about twenty miles. They raised a good family there. Strangely enough, Thelma’s family began exactly like my Mother’s children. Both had a son first which died in infancy. Next, both Mother and Thelma had two daughters followed by three sons, and it began to look like a carbon copy family. Then I was born last for my mother and Thelma went on to have two more daughters and the streak ended.
Anyone sitting in the large chapel of the funeral home must have been surprised at the number of family members who marched in one after another—children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. It was a marvelous celebration of her life as the preacher remembered her faithfulness in her worship of God and church. It was clearly evident that her family had followed her example as church-going Americans.
Her husband died many years ago, and she continued going forward with her life, selling Avon products and making homemade apple pies. That’s what I liked! OH! Sweet they were, and flaky too! Family reunions were always fun because she made sure she brought plenty of pies for all of us to eat. It was not uncommon for several of us—immediately after the blessing was asked on the food—to make a beeline to the dessert table and get several of the small delicacies.
A funny thing happened one day at the reunion several years ago when a new cousin-in-law, having discovered how tasty the apple pies were, took a large paper sack over to the table and began to shove many of the treats into his booty bag. “Sister,” never exactly a shy violet looked over to the table and said out loud, “Who is that man stealing all of my pies?”
That has, through the years, become family folklore for lots of laughs.
“Sister” had a great sense of humor, good sense of what family should be, and a good sense of being an American.
Most of you knew and liked Cleo, and given the chance you would have liked Thelma as well.
Fly fast Angel “Sister!”

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stories From the Cotton Patch

Some have asked whether they can still purchase my book, "Stories From the Cotton Patch," consisting of 100 stories from my childhood to my adulthood. They consist of southern humor, history of the South and the people and characters I have known throughout my life.
It was nominated as one of the best anthology books of the year 2006 from Georgia Writers Association.
To recieve a copy, send $10 for the book and $3 for shipping to me at 966 Barlow Road, Hawkinsville, GA 31036. Be sure to include your address along with your check and how you would like the book personalized.
Warm regards,

Friday, August 7, 2009

Electric Eyes Toilets

Sometimes progress can get in the way of common sense. YouknowwhutImeanVern?
Take the newfangled toilets in some places with their electric eyes that give a great big flush when one is through using the facilities—that is if they are operating correctly. If it works right, you walk away and it goes WHOOSH! Everything is gone quick as a flash. Well, I did say if everything works right. However, all of us who have used these modern miracles of toilet brains know they don’t always perform as projected.
For instance, how many times have you walked over to the extra long sink basement at Wally World only to have your hands drag through the soapy bottom? Now you tell me, why if they were gonna spend that much money fixing the restrooms in the supercenters, why couldn’t they have spent two more dollars and made it deeper so your hands didn’t bump the bottom where everyone’s hands have deposited whatever their hands deposit, huh? Now I’m just getting started with my beef. You women folks can skip over this paragraph because it has to do with the things that hang on the walls just for men. I’m wondering how does it know when I’m standing there? Just who is looking through the electric eyes? Furthermore, how does it know when I’m finished with my business? Guys, have you ever almost finished and had it go off before you were ready to step back, and did it startle you enough to make you jump? Well, you get the idea. There are all kinds of things that can happen that might prove embarrassing to you when you exit the
Restroom. Need I say more?
Now ladies, since you must seek the privacy behind closed doors—that is if you really believe those electric eyes are not working in a manner in which you don’t want it to work. As you enter the so-called privacy cubicle, you really do hope it is private—now I don’t mean to plant any insecurity ideas in your mind—but who really came up with the idea that you might somehow need help electronically to go WHOOSH when you’re through. Furthermore, think of the possibilities of one going off early. Can you say bidet`? I personally sympathize with the fairer sex because if something goes awry in the privacy of the cubicle and it gets stuck in the WHOOSH WHOOSH WHOOSH mode, I can see where it might panic one into getting out prematurely and you need to ask hubby if there is any paper trail hanging onto your shoes or worse yet you know where.
After all this, and the too-narrow sink to wash hands, then one has to get to the blower. Who in the world ever thought that thing up? Having to wait for the electric eye to blow enough air to dry one’s hands can be troublesome to say the least. Let me state unequivocally, those things never have worked well and especially if there are no buttons on them to press as long as needed to dry your hands.
Just wondering?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Biscuit Making Salesman

The phone rang early that day. That usually meant problems at our abode. This day was no exception as my wife handed it to me and shrugged her shoulders … a signal that she did not know who it was, and furthermore wanted nothing to do with it.
I answered cautiously, “Hello.”
On the other end was a voice that was very familiar to me. It was a furniture dealer from deep down Cairo, Georgia. I had recently sold him some appliances. I digress. In my other life, I was, and I still am a professional sales representative. The voice on the other end had a tone that no salesman ever wants to hear ------ almost desperately he said, “I sold one of your stoves (notice the ownership he assigned concerning the stove) and the woman I sold it to is unhappy with it.” He continued with a level tone in his voice, “She said it will not cook biscuits as fast as her old stove did.”
As a professional salesman, I recognized immediately the problem. It was not that the stove would not cook biscuits or anything else as well as her old stove would. It was not her dislike of the product either. It was and still is today a phenomenon known as “Buyer’s Remorse”. Buyer’s remorse usually occurs after a person has made a purchase and at some point shortly after doing so, they start to feel they might have been hasty in making the purchase. Another thing that is not uncommon in buyer’s remorse is when the spouse of the person making the purchase finds out that they were not consulted prior to the purchase. Their actions can reflect anger, pouting, or perhaps ridicule of the purchaser’s mentality. Either way, buyer’s remorse sets in and the person making the purchase starts to come up with excuses or reasons that they don’t want to keep the product. The next step is to complain to the seller about the dissatisfaction with the product.
“What do you want to do?” I inquired of the furniture store owner.
Rather curtly he replied in a slow drawl, “Well, I shore don’t want to take that stove back.!”
Thinking as quickly as I could, I asked him if she gave him any details. He said she told him that her old stove would cook biscuits in thirty minutes, while the new one would not.
“Winifred,” I said very firmly, “I will drive down to Cairo tomorrow, and I have a plan. Call your customer and ask if you can bring the representative over to see the stove.”
In nineteen sixty-four when we were married, my new bride informed me that she did not make biscuits. One can imagine the shock to the system of this writer who was raised on hand-made, home-made biscuits of a master biscuit making mother. I am talking about gravy and biscuits, syrup sopping biscuits, cold biscuits with a hole stuck into it by a young boy’s dirty finger before filling it with syrup, and biscuits with fatback, streak-o-lean or sausage in them. Well, you get the picture. I would need biscuits to survive. I proceeded directly to my mother’s home to discuss my dilemma. She was sympathetic with my plight, therefore she started teaching me the art of making “scratch” biscuits without a recipe ---- not an easy task for a young man whose total experience in the kitchen consisted of frying eggs and making milk shakes the old fashioned way. No ice cream involved because of the expense, it consisted of ice, sugar, milk, and vanilla flavoring mixed by shaking in an empty Mason jar until it foamed. Ummmm! Good!
I made a run on the Piggly Wiggly grocery where I picked up some self-rising flour, buttermilk, and lard. I took the weapons of my choice, a sifter and a large bowl along with the old cookie sheet, blackened from years of baking wonderful biscuits.
“You’re gonna do what?” Winifred asked somewhat incredulously.
“Come on! It’ll be okay.”
“That old woman may shoot both of us, Sam.”
“We’re going to save your sale.”
“Are you sure you know how to cook biscuits?”
“I studied at the feet of the master biscuit maker—my mother.”
As we drove into the driveway of the small frame house, I could tell that Winifred was extremely nervous. His nervousness was almost catching as my mind conjured up this little Martha White Pillsbury person who was as much an expert as my mother, waiting to lay me away. My plan was to use the element of surprise that has been successfully used on battlefields by warriors around the world since the beginning of time. We would ask her if we could look at the stove without telling her what I had in the large bag. Looking very professional, I touched the stove in strategic spots, turning knobs on first then off. Finally, when she would not leave us alone, I told her we were going to have to check it out by baking some biscuits in it.
“Hummmph!” She snorted as I began my attack in this strange kitchen.
“Winifred, will you start keeping time on your watch when I turn the oven on pre-heat?”
Nervously, he grunted in the affirmative as I placed my large bowl on her table. I sifted enough flour to cook approximately twenty to twenty-five biscuits, adding confidently the lard before kneading it into the mixture. Next I poured the buttermilk in mixing the soon-to-be biscuits with the confidence of someone with ten years of successful biscuit making experience. Pulling off a small fist sized portion of dough, I began to roll then into perfect biscuit size before placing them onto the old sheet that had made hundreds, maybe thousands of biscuits. When I finished hand rolling all the mixture under the watchful eye of the occupant of the house, I put the uncooked biscuits into the now pre-heated oven. Now we would wait. The timepiece was ticking. Beads of perspiration formed on the forehead of the store owner. The lady suffering from buyer’s remorse was struggling to keep her composure. She was definitely feeling the effects of the invasion onto her turf.
Keeping a watchful eye on the oven, I beheld perfectly golden biscuits, which I removed from the oven and placed on the counter. I am certain the spirit of my departed mother was smiling at the result. “Time!” I exclaimed to my dealer.
“Twenty-nine minutes,” Winifred announced with a big smile.
I broke out the stick of butter, sliced a patty, and placed it into the steaming biscuit. “Ma’am, would you like to try one of these biscuits?”
“Hummmph!” She retorted once more this time spinning on her heel and vacating the kitchen for the first time. She knew the agony of defeat as my dealer informed her that he could not take the stove back.
I smiled at Winifred as we left. Feeling very smug, I said “Call me if you have any problems.”
Somehow, I felt as though he must be thinking, “That is one biscuit making salesman.”

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jim Marshall Georgia 8th District Congressman

If you don't like what is happening in Washington D. C. follow this line to let your congressman/woman know how you feel. My thanks to old friend, George Slappey for doing the research on how to contact your congressperson wherever you live to express your opposition to Government Health Care Bill H.R. 3200.

Sam Crenshaw