That was the first question Daddy asked every person who entered his house, should they be a friend, relative, or Kirby Vacuum Cleaner Salesman who happened to be hopelessly lost on the back roads of rural Bossier Parish. Raised during The Great Depression, always hungry, he frequently did a day’s work for no more than food. He swore if he ever got grown, no one would ever leave his house hungry. “Are you hungry? Kathleen will fix you something to eat!” The burden of his good intentions fell on my mother, who possessed no Aladdin’s lamp to fulfill his goal. I always wondered why she didn’t kill him. It was amazing how many people accepted his offer of food, though it was no where near mealtime. With five children and a very tight budget, there was very little left at the end of meals. Our refrigerator was not filled with hams, fruit, cheese, nor were there chips, loaves of bread, or desserts for snacking. Every meal was cooked from scratch, heavy on beans, potatoes, gravy, chicken, cornbread, and biscuits. Sometimes there was a biscuit or two left after meals, or a spoonful of beans or gravy, but little else. Should there be dessert, it was carefully divided and parceled among us, the last couple of portions saved for Daddy’s lunch. God help the foolish child who got into what was intended for Daddy’s lunch.
Daddy had a brother who often loaded up his family and headed our way at three o’clock Friday afternoon, surprising us around two in the morning with his large, starving family to be fed and bedded. Mother had to make biscuits, gravy, and eggs, if the hens were laying, find beds for everyone, to back to bed, knowing the next day, she be struggling to find food for another large family all weekend. Had my uncle not found us at home, he’d have driven on to his other brother’s house, where we’d likely have been. It would have never crossed his mind to call or write! He may have only decided to visit on the spur of the moment, anyway.