Monday, December 27, 2010

Breakfast History

The breakfast one day after Christmas consisted of Maureen’s apple pancakes, bacon, and other goodies. At the conclusion, an unrecorded history lesson occurred.

We have recorded several of these "breakfast history" conversations with Mother and Daddy, but sometimes aren't in a position to record. I attempt to recreate the conversations from memory when this occurs. This morning was one such incident.

In the midst of the conversation, Maureen fetched the coffee pot and refreshed her cup. Now Maureen is one of those folks who likes her multiple condiments and adds a bit of coffee for her breakfast drink. As usual, she poured in some hazelnut creamer, a bit of heavy whipped cream, a bit of honey (I think), and for the coup de gras, she returned from the spice rack and sprinkled cinnamon into the mix, topping it off with a splash of coffee.

My father (Grandpa to all the family; no other grandfather in our family claims that title), who continues to drink his coffee black as does his oldest son, watched incredulously. When she had finished sprinkling the cinnamon, he offered, “We have some black pepper in the shelf if you would like to add that too.”

This was good. It induced one of those fantastic laughs of Maureen, causing everyone else to laugh as well.

Then, we talked about the weather. Daddy observed the weather patterns had changed since his youth. He recalled three or four snows each season dropping at least four to six inches each time. One year during his elementary school years, it snowed 21 inches.

Culley Jewell, my grandfather and in charge of school maintenance, walked to McClain Elementary School on West Main Street to fire the coal heaters to warm the school before the students arrived. My father performed the same job for Highland Heights School on the corner of North Cumberland and East High Street.

After firing the coal heaters in the early morning, they returned from their respective schools to learn that the snow storm had brought about school being cancelled for the day.

This led to the tale of Grandma getting in trouble by helping me, a common occurrence my father pointed out. “She took you on your paper route quite a bit when it was bad weather,” he recalled. I don’t remember it that way, but a) I am sure she did once or twice, and b) I’m sure his memory is better than mine.

This particular incident was recalled when I described the beauty of the drive from the Castle Heights gate up to Main was after a snow fall. The concrete arch of a gate, barely wide enough to allow two cars to pass, was lined with hickory trees (I think) and they hung over the drive, a canopy of snow covered limbs.

But this winter day, it was very cold after a long night of rain. I had guard duty and had to report for duty before 6:00 a.m. My mother decided I should not walk in the weather and took me to the main building.

My father had parked his car (a used car for sale at the Hankins, Byars, and Jewell Pontiac dealership) behind my mother’s in the driveway. So Mother took me in Daddy’s car.

It was just before 6:00 a.m. when she dropped me off. As she started driving back down the entrance hill, the car ran out of gas. Dressed in her nightgown and robe, she walked back to the guard house and asked me to call Daddy. No offices were open yet and the only phone was a pay phone. Neither either of us or the other guard on duty had a dime. So Mother decided to walk home.

When she got to West Main, she hid behind the arched entry until there were no cars on West Main. Then she dashed across. When she saw a car coming north on Castle Heights, she stepped into a roadside ditch attempting to look like she had been outside and was going back into a neighbor’s house. The ditch was full of water from the rains and then she had one soaked foot.

When she got home, as Daddy described it, she was “plenty mad.”

Shortly afterwards, Granny, Mother's mother who was a house mother for Castle Heights Junior School (elementary school boarding students), called as usual. She complained to Mother about some nut leaving their car in the middle of the road, making it difficult to get to the school cafeteria behind Main.

Mother informed Granny that she was the nut.

I always did get her into more trouble than I was worth.

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