Reblog from Smorgasbard
The mail ran just as Lucille finished up the dishes. “Mama, you got a letter from Shirley.”
Lucille dried her hands on her apron, poured a cup of coffee and sat down to read it. “Here Jenny, sit with me.”
Dear Mama and Jenny.
Thanks so much for the baby’s christening picture. She looks like an angel. Jenny, you are sure getting your figure back. I’m still carrying ten pounds from when I had Marty. I hate that. Seems like it gets harder after it every baby. Martin’s brother Perry is talking about getting married again. You remember his wife left him and Judy for the doctor she was working with and they moved off to Henderson. Well, he’s been going with a widowed schoolteacher with a little boy and they’re talking about getting married at Christmas. Mama Benson’s been living with Perry and Judy ever since Fran left. You remember she said she was tired of keeping up this big, old house, just for herself, so we bought it. I don’t know where she’ll live after Perry marries. It’s our house now. You live in the garage apartment, and I’m not about to put you out. She’s not an easy woman to live with.
The kids sure are enjoying their summer, but not as much as I am. I wish I didn’t ever have to go back. Kids don’t know teachers are as happy about summer as they are. P I’ve got plenty here to keep me busy. The oldest two are taking swimming lessons. Better close and get this in the mail.
“Oh, Jenny! What if Mrs. Benson decides she wants to move in with them? It was her house to start with. I should have never put my three thousand dollars in fixing that nice apartment in the garage. That’s ’bout all I had left. I can’t afford to buy a house or pay rent. I am sixty-eight years old, way too old to be trying to go back to work. If Martin feels like he has to move his mama in there, I won’t have no place to go.” Lucille felt like she’d hit bottom.
“Now Mama, don’t go borrowing trouble. Nobody’s said a word about Mrs. Benson moving in with Shirley. You don’t even know for sure she won’t stay on with Perry after he marries. Martin and Shirley bought her house. She has no claim on it. Whatever happens, none of your kids will let you do without. You know that.”
“I do know that, Jenny, but I thought I was settled and don’t want to move again. I’m gittin’ to old to worry like this. Sometimes, I just wish I could go on and be with Russ. I think I’ll go lay down awhile. I’ll do them dishes later.” Lucille trudged back to her bedroom.
I used to moonlight at an urgent care clinic. Mother called me at my regular RN job one day to complain of an earache. Like I always do when people ask advice, I recommended she see a doctor. She decided to go to the urgent care clinic where I sometimes worked. I called to speak to my friend, Judy, who was working that day. I asked her to surprise Mother by telling her she had to have a full internal pelvic exam. She knew Mother, and was delighted to pull a little trick on her. Sure enough, she showed Mother to the OB/GYN exam room, telling her to prepare for a full exam. Naturally, Mother was stunned, protesting she only had an earache. Of course, my friend quickly gave the joke up.
They turned the tables on me. Judy, the nurse called me. “Linda, your mom was so shocked she fell and her head. She’s gonna have to have stitches. You are gonna have to come see about her.”
“Oh my God, I never dreamed that would happen! Let me get someone to cover for me. I’ll be there as soon as I can. At that, They started laughing. The last laugh was on me.
“Oh Mama, this apple pie is so good. I never will get this baby weight off if you don’t quit baking pies like this. I just can’t say no.” Jenny pushed her plate back. “I am going to save some out for Ben and freeze the rest if you don’t mind. It will be wonderful to pull it out for a treat one day.”
“That is a good idea, Jenny, but your weight is coming off real good. I been here two weeks and I can tell a big difference since then. Breast-feeding really helps. After my babies was born, I breastfed as long as I could ’cause some folks said it helped keep from gittin’ another baby too quick. Didn’t seem like it helped too much, but I guess it might a’helped some. I got thataway as soon as your daddy got home and had three babies two years apart. I never had no trouble keepin’ my weight down, workin’ in the cafe and chasin’ young’uns. You was a big help, though. I don’t know how I’d a’got by without you. I kind a’hate to tell you, now, but I was gonna bake two peanut butter pies today. I promised one to the American Legion Bake Sale, but I guess I can send ’em both if you think I ought to.”
“Ooh, don’t you dare! Ben would have a fit if he knew I let you send off his peanut butter pie. I’ll just make myself stay out of it! I lost two pounds this week and I don’t want to put it back on. How did you learn to bake such great pies? Seemed like everybody that came in our cafe was crazy for your pies.” Jenny took one final bite of her pie, then put her fork down.
“Bessie Sears got me started making pies when I was a dishwasher at the Peabody Cafe. She ran that boarding house and I went down to help her make pies ever’ mornin’ between the breakfast and lunch shifts. It got to where she got more orders than she could handle, so she passed ’em on to me. Mr. Peabody let me bake in the cafe kitchen, long as I furnished him first. ‘Course, I bought my own supplies. Mr. Peabody gave me fifty cents a pie and sold it for fifteen cents a slice, so we both made money. I charged ever’body else seventy cents a pie and couldn’t keep up. Sometimes I sold as much as much as fifty pies a week. That’s how I was able to save up enough for us to get a restaurant when your daddy come home. I was right proud.” Lucille smiled proudly.
“I liked living over that cafe when y’all first opened it. I didn’t want to move. It always smelled like apple pie when I was going to sleep at night.” Jenny grinned.
“Yeah, I always ran up to tuck you in bed right after I put the pies on to bake at night. Then me and your daddy would clean up and do the books while they baked. It worked out good we could live over the cafe…..and the price was sure right, fifteen dollars a month for that buildin’. It was nice and warm in winter, but hot as blazes iin summer.”
Southern Peanut Butter Pie
2/3 cup white sugar1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup dark corn syrup 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter 3 eggs 1 cup salted peanuts 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Combine all ingredients Pour filling into pie crust.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
Center may be soft but will firm up as it cools
Flaky Vinegar Pie Crust
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter, cold and cut into several large pieces (may substitute shortening)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vinegar
6-10 tbsp ice water
Vinegar makes this crust flaky and sugar helps it brown. You won’t taste vinegar.
Mix flour, fat, salt, and sugar with pastry cutter or blender till it is grainy and well-mixed. Mix in vinegar and ice water until it makes stiff mix that can be pressed into a ball. Wrap and chill 1-2 hours. Roll out on floured surface and transfer to pan. Makes one double crust or two nine inch crusts. I make half a dozen up ahead of time and freeze dough. Must thaw an hour or so before rolling out.
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You probably don’t remember me,but I was your nurse. I took care of you when you had your baby, took care of your sick child, comforted you when you were in pain. I worked extra shifts on holidays and weekends because you needed me. I rejoiced when you got better. Cried with you when you needed a friend and tried to help you find the answers. I sang and talked to you when you seemed unresponsive because I knew you were in there. I brought Easter baskets for your children so they wouldn’t be disappointed when they came to see you on Easter. I hugged you and your family. I talked to you about things outside the hospital to give you something else to think about, trying to bring you a story that would interest you everyday, unless you just needed me to be quiet with you. I was…
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In our rural community, we didn’t have phones till the early sixties.Only one or two mothers in the whole community worked. Most families had only one car, so women were most likely home unless they walked to a near neighbor’s home for coffee accompanied by their infants and toddlers. The point of this story is, when we got in trouble at school, the news often beat us home. I don’t know how, but Mother invariably knew what I’d gotten in trouble for. I suspect my older sister may have ratted me out, or the teacher sent a sneaky note home by her, but news always got home. A few times, my mother heard through the grapevine. It was certainly a different day and time. Should my offense be minor, Mother took care of the problem, but if it were a matter heinous enough to warrant a note or invitation to a conference at school, I had to deal with Daddy. That was never nice. It would have been so much happier for me if my parents had held the teacher’s attitude or methods responsible, but alas, the judgment came right back to me.
Jenny so loved the talks she and Lucille shared. When Lucille started a story, she got a faraway look in her eyes, paused to think, then the enchantment began. Today was no different.
Lucille put her crochet down and said. “They was a doctor in with your daddy. Did I ever tell you about that? He said folks didn’t talk much about themselves, but didn’t mind talkin’ about other folks. Some things don’t change.”
“No. What in the world was he in for?” Jenny was all ears.
“He cut his wife’s throat then kilt the rest of the family.”
“A doctor?” Jenny couldn’t take it in that a doctor could commit such a heinous crime. “What in the world would make a doctor do such a thing?”
“Honey, doctors is just folks like the rest of us, some good, some bad. This doctor fell on hard times, just like ever’body else back then. Nobody had no money to pay him, then after a while, nobody had nothin’ to offer in trade. He’d always been known as a hard man for a’beatin’ his wife and such. That was a family matter. He lost his place and started toward California on Route 66 like so many others, thinkin’ things would have to be better out there. Anyhow, he got to sellin’ his wife to other men along the way. People just camped along the side of the road under trees close to water wherever they could, so they saw a lot of the same folks day after day. Early one mornin’ the doctor hitched a ride with a family movin’ out early, sayin’ he had to get to the next town to git a part for his old car. Nobody thought nothin’ ’bout that. Folks was always a’hitchin’ rides. Late that afternoon when folks was a’settin’ up camp in the grove of trees along by the crick, they noticed flies a’buzzin’ around a tent. A feller went to check and found a pregnant woman and two little bitty kids with their throats cut. It turned out, the doctor didn’t want his wife havin’ that baby, not knowin’ if it was his and wanted to git rid of it. She fought him on it, and he ended up a’cuttin’ her throat. He kilt them them kids to cover it up. They called the sheriff and he was picked up down at the rail yard train’ to catch a ride on a train. It’s just hard to believe a feller could be so cold. Most men would fight to the last to save their family. Anyhow, he was still on death row when your daddy got out.” Lucille sighed at the end of her tale. “There must be a special place in Hell for folks like that!”
“That’s horrible. Did y’all ever hear any more about him.” Jenny was all ears.
“No. Never heard no more once your daddy got home. He Disn’t seem like the kind of feller you’d want to keep up with.” They both got a good chuckle out of that.