Eating South and North

A new Memory of the Day. Eating in the South and the North. I grew up in the farming community of Oak Grove, LA. My grandparents owned a farm in West Carroll Parish, just outside the town. I never knew just how many acres they had, but it was sufficient to keep my grandfather, Edgar busy pretty much from sunup to sundown seven days a week. I doubt he ever worried about daylight saving time. I spend many a sunup to sundown out on that farm, though technically, I lived in town with my parents.

Breakfast out at the Huff’s was a big deal. Takes lots of calories to farm. I remember my grandmother preparing eggs and bacon for my brother and me, but the highlight was always her sugar toast. She would butter the bread and sprinkle it with sugar then pop it in the oven to toast. I still get a yearning for sugar toast from time to time. We almost always had hot chocolate served in milk glasses. When we were small, my brother Wayne and I would eat our breakfast in the kitchen. Grandmam would open the oven door for us to use as a table, this was especially appreciated in the winter. We sat on lard cans for chairs. Fond memories. I remember Granddaddy would show up from outside after we were already eating. He had chores to complete before he ate. He had been milking and feeding livestock early in the morning. He would sit at the kitchen counter with a big bowl of Raisin Bran. My guess is that he also ate some of the bacon, sausage, eggs, and biscuits as well, but I remember the Raisin Bran the most.

Lunch was the big meal of the day out at the Huffs. Grandmam was usually fixing for Edgar and any other hands working that day. That included Wayne and me. First, let me be clear. I just called this lunch, but we called it dinner. I’ve heard it said that dinner is the meal eaten with the family so that would fit here. Our nighttime meal was supper. Dinner would consist of at least 3 proteins (fried chicken, ham, roast beef for example), mashed potatoes, and a variety of vegetables from the garden. There would always be dessert, usually a couple of pies and a cake and, of course, lots of biscuits and cornbread. Supper normally consisted of the leftovers from dinner. Granddaddy always sat at the head of the table during all meals and mumbled a grace that no one could really understand. I think I finally deciphered it and use it today at every meal. I recall the first time Wayne got a chance to say the table grace. He tried to mimic Edgar and prayed “Mumble, mumble, mumble, nine o’clock, amen.” Meals in the South when I grew up there were big deals. Grandmam and other farm women would prepare meals all day long and clean up after each meal. It was a never ending job.

Now, Edgar and Ruth Huff were my maternal grandparents, but my paternal grandparents lived in Pennsylvania. My Grandpop Grant was a Collieryman at Raven Run Colliery near Shenandoah, PA. The colliery was where the chunks of coal pulled from the ground by strip mining would be broken into usable sized pieces of coal. My Grandmam Grant was a practical nurse. My dad worked at Raven Run until he had a terrible accident that broke his leg and left him pretty crippled up for a while. I am pretty sure that between that accident and treatment he got from a chiropractor, that fr is what inspired him to go to National Chiropractic School in Chicago. Eating in Girardville, PA was a meager sort of thing. Breakfast was normally toast made by my grandmother who would stoke up the coal burning stove and impale a slice of white bread on a fork to hold over the embers to toast it. Toast and hot tea were my usual meals for breakfast when we visited Pennsylvania.

My grandpop was off to work at Raven Run before any of us got up in the morning. My grandmother would fix his lunch box the night before and he would carry it off when he left at 5:00 AM each morning. He always had TastyKake pastries in his lunch pail and when Wayne and I were there, he always brought some of it back for us when he got home. Sadly, I don’t have any vivid memories about supper at Girardville. Meals were pretty simple though. Sometimes we would get a pizza from “The Sons of Italy” down on mainstreet. From time to time,Grandpop would take us to the corner saloon about a block from the house and Wayne and I would get a birch beer while he had his usual Ballentyne. We got to eat lots of pretzels and nuts at the bar.

I do remember lots of pastries from the bakery. We would often have “sticky buns” for breakfast. To be fair, Wayne and I only spent a couple weeks each summer in Girardville, except for the long hot summer when we went up on the train by ourselves and spent 6 weeks there. I’ve told that story before. If you want to read it and others, you can find them at http://www.granddaddystories.wordpress.com. I am supposing that eating up north was pretty much as we experienced it when we were up there.

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