It's going on 60 years since I first heard my mother calling "supper time, come and eat" while standing on the back steps of our modest home in the fading twilight. About half the boys I play Army with in the vacant lot dotted with truckloads of topsoil we used as fortresses and as a supply of mud balls for grenades, had already departed for their homes. I was among the reluctant to quit play, but the tantalizing aroma from Mother's kitchen never failed to override any consideration of ignoring her call. We usually ate similar fare to what my Depression-era parents were raised on: juicy pinto beans fortified with bacon, ham or salt pork and plenty of onions used to bathe our corn bread or home-made white bread, with salad or greens and plenty of sweet tea. On weekends there would be meat of some sort, but not during the week unless tuna fish or baloney sandwiches were on the menu. There were no ready-to-eat bread mixes in those days. My mother made fresh corn bread or loves of white bread several times a week to feed her family of six.
I don't know when I began to understand some families called their evening meal dinner, the name reserved for our noon meal that these same classmates termed lunch. I was one of those kids who thought his family was in the right, and didn't realize supper was a term used mainly in the rural south. College and the Army taught me to drop that old term, but I still use it when talking with relatives.
For my last birthday friends Irene and Joe Beach gave me a book by Leon Hale entitled "Supper Time". He was a longtime award-winning columnist for the Houston Chronicle, noted for his homespun humor, wit, colloquial voice, and observations of all things Texan. This particular book is a superb collection of tales and memories about the evening meal during the author's boyhood, when in the Army Air Corps, in college, as a bachelor, and around the campfire. I laughed long and loud at an unexpected remark about fruit cake which my mother loved. I understood better why she cherished this concoction of fruit and cake after reading Leon Hale's remembrances. An entertaining, enjoyable and educational read that I highly recommend to all.
Friday, August 14, 2015
I just read We're Czechs by Robert Skrabanek. It is a well-written historical narrative based on his memories; not text-book situations, but real-life ways farm families dealt with sickness, food preservation, work, religion, community, education and life in the early 20th century. I thought of my parents when reading this book. Although we are not Czechs, their lives on the farm during the 1920's and 30's were very similar. It gives me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the generation that came before mine. It also reflects how much the South and West have changed with the invention of air conditioning. We are setting record-breaking temperatures here along the Texas coast. I grew-up without air conditioning, and know that is not something I would want to experience again :-)