by Arnold D. Dyre
When I was a youngster, we had three meals -- and I mean decent meals -- breakfast, dinner and supper. I cannot tell you exactly when supper got lost and when lunch replaced dinner at noon. The change was gradual, like an incessantly creeping cancer working to undermine our way of life. There is no telling what else is now underway.
At our house, we had a real breakfast. Eggs, gathered fresh from nests in the hen house the day before, country-cured bacon and ham, grits, gravy, biscuits, real butter, molasses, homemade jams and jellies, and often tomatoes or melons. We had hot coffee and cold milk. Our breakfasts even had desserts -- my mother's cinnamon rolls, the most notable. Some mornings, there were pancakes or waffles, but we still had all the rest as well.
On the farms, there were functional dinner bells that were rung to signal workers in the fields that the noon meal was ready. Those who had labored all morning were not summoned by the bell to lunch. Heaven forbid! There was a real country dinner on the table. Peas, corn, squash, turnip greens, mashed potatoes, gravy, tomatoes, cornbread, and there were always a couple of meats. Not fancy but hearty, and mighty good. There would be fresh cobbler or pie or maybe a cake and, sometimes, ice cream. It would all be consumed with gusto and there would be time for a short nap; folks stretched out in work clothes on the floor of the front porch before returning to work.
Would someone please tell me how such a noontime meal got replaced by a salad and a sandwich on store bought bread? Surely, someone is going to hell for that.
After the day's work was done and the evening chores were performed, there was always at least one cow to milk; the hogs were fed and the chickens were put up. Then supper would be ready. At supper, anything left over from the day's previous meals likely appeared again but was accompanied by new delights and usually a new batch of biscuits and cornbread. The leftover cobbler, cake or pie, if not finished off at supper, disappeared when it came time for a bedtime snack.
Night would come with all the night sounds of crickets, tree frogs and perhaps a whip-poor-will. Sleep was good because a good day's work had been done and proper meals were had.
At daybreak, the rooster would be crowing and, in my Mother's kitchen, the bacon was frying. Life was good.
Arnold Dyre writes:
"I live in Madison, Mississippi, and am a 61-year old Jackson attorney, retired from active law practice. I was born in Montgomery County and grew up in Grenada County and currently write a weekly column for The Daily Star, a newspaper in Grenada, Mississippi. My weekly columns, as well as some features for various special editions, are mostly anecdotal musings calculated to interest local readers and relate primarily to nostalgic memories of experiences growing up in a rural community called Gore Springs. I have had similar types of pieces published in The Oxford SO & SO, The Tombigbee Country Magazine, and Yesterday's Memories."
"Additionally, I write short stories and poetry, and I've also completed two legal thriller/police/crime novels for which I am currently seeking the representation of a literary agent and/or publisher."
Read another of Arnold Dyre's stories here at USADS!
Be Suspicious of a Skinny Cook
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