Honeysuckle Air: Strange Foods of My Youth

Sometimes we remember the strangest things as markers for our years. Certain foods have had a starring role in pivotal events of my life.

Cookies as a Primary Health Care Plan

I always wanted to be as big as my older sister and brother. They often sat on the plow while my daddy drove the tractor to make it dig down deeper into the soil. I begged to get a turn doing it too. There was just one detail I didn’t quite understand — you had to jump off at the end of each row so the plow could be raised while the tractor was turning around.

Being quite slender of build, I survived my injuries when my siblings jumped off and I was bent over forward and crushed by the metal bar which held the plow. Not being folks who went to doctors, my daddy did an extraordinary deed which I had never seen before. Besides, this was many years before 911 and there was no hospital for many miles.

He went to the little filling station store and bought some “ready-made cookies”. There were two flavors: vanilla and strawberry, sandwich wafers with frosting in the middle. I was laid on the bed in a bent over position when he arrived with the cookies.

Even though the pain was terrible, it was the arrival of TWO PACKAGES OF COOKIES JUST FOR ME that made me know that I must be in bad shape.

I wasn’t really very hungry so they lasted a long time. By the day I had eaten them all I was moving around although a bit slower than usual. For some reason I never did ask to ride the plow again.

I notice those cookies are still sold in stores nowadays. Once in a while I look at them but I’ve never bought any for fear the taste would make me relive that horrible day.
Tomato Juice Soup

In my childhood on the farm we grew a big garden. We took care of it like people nowadays take care of their yards.

In the heat of the summertime, the thermometer was often above 100 and sometimes above 110 degrees. Since we didn’t buy much packaged food, sandwiches were usually out of the question. Our garden produced scads of tomatoes. So we had cold homemade tomato juice with crackers.

To this day I simply love cold V-8 or tomato juice in a bowl with crackers on a hot summer day.

Lemons and The Raging Bull

When you live on a dairy farm you learn to respect bulls and give them a wide berth. There was a small orchard a few yards from our house, and in the heat of the day–as this was before air conditioners–I loved to pick a piece of fruit and enjoy it in a shady area.

This time I had a lemon. I bit into it enough to tear it open and was slurping the juice out of it as I heard a dreaded sound. I swallowed hard and started backing up, almost stumbling on the cellar door.

Having nowhere to go, I backed all the way up the cellar door till I was flat against the bricks of our small house. That was when the huge bull started pawing, a bad sign for those of you who know about such things.

It seemed like hours that I tasted the lemon in my mouth while watching the angry creature coming closer and closer.

The spell was broken with loud honking of a horn, as an old pickup came charging through the yard to scare him away. His owner knew better than to walk toward him, so he chose to herd the now furious bull with the pickup till he drifted back to the point in the neighbor’s pasture where the bull had escaped. The man immediately started working on the break in the fence.

I finally breathed, sucked in lemon saliva, and choked. To this day I picture a bull when I see a lemon!

Wiener Gravy in the Half Moon Pan

As I grew older, I helped out quite a bit in the kitchen as my mother worked. My older sister and I had a special pan we just loved for making gravy, frosting, and other things which require constant stirring. We called it the half moon pan.

Back in those days fast food was almost unheard of, so we sometimes reveled in “store bought food” like lunchmeat and wieners.  A favorite was “weiner gravy” which could be made with chopped wieners and homemade gravy.

It provided a quick open face sandwich when poured over toast and was our version of fast food. It was even a bit exciting with its pink color!

It was a number of years later that I discovered what the pan really was: an emesis pan from my mother’s stay at the hospital. (Translation, vomit pan.) Nowadays they are plastic, but back then they were metal.

But facts be as they are, I still have fond memories of wiener gravy:-)

Foods I Can Still Taste

I will always remember Grapette at the laundromat in those days when country folks didn’t have their own washer and dryer.  Likewise I can almost taste the smell of restaurant food — from the sidewalk of course since we never ever ate out back then.

But nothing can beat the whole drama of making homemade ice cream, from the first time I was judged heavy enough to hold the lid down by sitting on it, to the very special privilege of licking the paddles. This event had a way of making time stand still for our family.

In fact, when time held still, that’s when you could really taste the food, and the memories! I enjoy noticing the role food plays in hooking together the memories of my past.

Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission from author for use online or in print.


About grantutor

Career educator in both public and private schools. Has tutored all ages. Writes about education, parenting, & seniors. Sings harmony with folk/rock group and a choir. Caregiver for spouse who dealt with Stage IV cancer. Happy person committed to nature and conservation of a green world.
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