Friday, December 17, 2004

Downtown Beloved Report

Downtown Beloved Report
By: Miss Annie Pankey

Christmas time in our home of Beloved, Kentucky is always a wonderful time of year.  Us folks who are members of the Beloved Merchants Association voted again to decorate the streets of town before the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.  We strung a right smart load of lights all up an’ down the street on the trees an’ around windows.  They was all lit up Thanksgiving’ evenin’ after the traditional turkey fry an’ jet turkey races put on by the Pappy Yokum Masonic Lodge #149.  Folks inject a quart of moonshine into a 13 pound turkey and light that thing’s tail. Them turkeys take off like they was scalded dogs!  The best distance this year was a turkey what was brought in by Cousin Peanut Chappell.  His turkey went horizontal quickly thanks to the plastic American flags on each wing an’ flew 47 miles before it run out of fuel.  ‘Course, Cousin Peanut was actually the originator of the flyin’ jet turkey, but that is another story.

Beloved’s Storyteller Laureate, Cousin Stephen Hollen was Santy Claus for the parade again this year.  He always comes down home with his little red wagon and his 8 pet squirrels.  He named them squirrels Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixon, Comet, Cupid, Donner an’ Fluffy.  Storyteller Stephen Hollen has welded 8 little hamster wheels to the pull handle of that wagon an’ them there squirrels pull him all over Beloved dressed like Santy.  Y’all will have to ask him more about that.

The winner of this year’s decoratin’ contest was again the small antique, quilt an’ lace goods shop named “Pankey’s Hankies”.  The owner did a lovely job decoratin’ the window with a marvelous collection of Santy Claus figurines.  It was delightful to see the daffodils forced to bloom from bulbs in the plastic Easter Bunny.  This is the sixth year in a row that fine establishment has won the decoratin’ prize.

Editor’s Note: Miss Pankey is  the owner of Pankey‘s Hankies, and is also the contest chairwoman.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

13th Annual Watermelon Chorus

13th Annual Watermelon Chorus
By Sister Hazel Nutt Budder

This year we celebrated the arrival of the Christmas Season with our traditional Community Chorus singing the regionally famous “Watermelon Chorus”.  Readers may remember that two years ago it was moved from the assembly room of the Beloved Carnegie Library to the big meeting room at the Pappy Yokum Masonic Lodge #149.

The crowd was even larger than ever with over 487 attending.  In spite of the unfortunate flu bug that nearly ruined the first community chorus event, this writer has put her chin up, swallowed a great deal of pride and given the community what it asked for...the “Watermelon Chorus” in place of the Hallelujah Chorus.  There is, of course, no accounting for taste in some communities.  In spite of this writer’s objections, the vote of the committee was magnanimous, so this writer went along, knowing there will be stars in my crown for the suffering I do here on this earth.

The ladies of the community did a fine job making choir robes out of flour sacks we have saved for the last twelve years just for this event.  It would have been nice if the little flower prints had matched on each flour sack, but it was lovely all the same.  Several of the larger men, Rancey Sams in particular will have to wait till next year to have a back to their robe pieced and sewn.  It wasn’t obvious unless Rancey turned around.

Many thanks to all the chorus members, Miss Hazel Mosely for playing the organ and Mrs. Myrtle Collins for doing a bang up job on the piano.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Cart Surfer

I have to open up and confess
Tell someone what is on my mind.
Have a Tell It Now gatherin'
Speak my peace, once for all.

Y'see, I am a shopping cart surfer
A grocery aisle roller.
Freewheelin' on a grocery cart
Whizzin' past the produce.

I walk calmly in the crowd
Wait patient for a break.
Seek the empty aisle
No shoppers in my path.

Then I push right hard
Grab on, lift my feet.
Lean into the cart
And fly over the concrete.

My winged cart whizzes
On past the produce.
Through the bread an' cakes
Down by the laundry products.

Then, quickly as I start
I'm done, respectable.
I stroll past the ancient lady
Wrapped in her moth worn furs.

Nod to the meat counter girl
Grinnin', knowin' me.

Seen her on a grocery cart,
Leaning forward, feet lifted.
Smilin' like me
Eyes closed, wind on her face.

There are many like us
Saw one yesterday.
Sweet pretty brown-eyed girl
Lookin' round, leanin' for take off.

I'll go again, you know
Clandestine shoppin' surfer.
Wait till no one sees me
Lean in, push off an' go.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Soup Pot

Marie Lawson sat in the room that was her living room and bedroom.  It was the only room in the house she kept heated all winter.  The room was also the room that her Great Great Grandpa built first when he homesteaded this here little holler in the hills of eastern Kentucky.  The outside of this part of the house was logs, but the inside had been covered with layer after layer of newspapers stuck to the walls with home made flour paste.  Marie's Mama had gotten snooty, or at least that's what folks said when she sent away to the Sears and Roebuck an' ordered wallpaper to go over those layers of newspaper.

The fireplace in front of her had a coal grate burning warm and a big ol' pot simmered close to the coal fire.  Inside was a thick soup Marie was cookin'.  She had started with a little bacon grease to coat the pot an' to brown the deer meat giver to her by Hap Ledford.  Some soup bone stock had gone in next 'long with a couple quart jars of her prize winnin' home canned tomatoes.  Over to the side of the coal grate was quarts of other home canned vegetables from Marie's garden waitin' their turn to go into the soup pot.  A salt celler an' pepper mill stood guard over the event, waitin' to step in now an' again to add the right taste to the proceedin's.

Marie enjoyed sittin' in her rockin' chair every Wednesday in winter an' makin' soup.  It was an all day process.  Folks just don't want to hurry good soup.  It needs to steep an' blend in a slow an' steady dance of tastes.

Right now she was a' peelin' taters that she would leave sit in water till time to throw them in. They was still nice an' firm with few eyes in them just yet.  Later in the winter she would go to the root celler an' scrounge through the ol' wizzled taters to find a few that looked an' felt good to the touch in the darkness of the root cellar.

Later in the day, 'bout the time she added the quart jar of sweet corn, Marie took time to darn a sock that had worn at the heel.  Her darnin' egg was placed in the heel an' she carefully pulled tread back an' forth along the thin threads left in the heel.  Back an' forth, back an' forth, over an' under, her thread filled in line after line of the heel till it was near good as new.

Although there was a basket with quiltin' pieces layin' next to her rocker, Marie determined it was time for a short nap.  She laid her darnin' egg an' sock in the basket an' folded her hands in her lap. Her Mama used to say that "idle hands was the Devil's playground".  She still missed her Mama to this day, but was glad to have the peace an' solitude to do what she wanted.  She didn't happen to agree with that piece of theology an' proved it by takin' naps most every day.

Lunchtime was called by her ol' dog scratchin' at the door wantin' to eat.  She had spoiled that ol' dog by feedin' it three times a day, but it was good company.  It knew better than to get too close to her soup pot or the fixin's waitin' to go in.  A couple biscuits filled with country ham an' a little spoon of her muscadine grape jelly to grease it down was sittin' on a plate with a glass of cold milk.  When it was this cold she didn't need to put the milk in her Frigidaire to cool it down, she just left it on the back porch after she was done milkin' an' covered it with a clean dish towel.

Her ol' dog, Luke didn't know, but she didn't ever feed him exactly what she was eatin'.  She kept her food scraps in a bowl an' brought it with her when she sat down.  As she ate her biscuits an' ham, she would reach in an get a little scrap from the scrap bowl an' feed it to Luke.

"Well, Lukie, time to add the beans an' taters." Marie told her dog.  She had already added corn, okra, peas an' carrots.  The green beans an' taters was always the last in the pot.  She sat an' stared at the coal grate as the soup pot simmered.  As she sat, she could swear the flames made odd things as she watched, pictures in the burnin' fire.  Pictures an' faces an' places Marie had only dreamed of would appear as she gazed an' daydreamed.

Later in the evenin', Marie doled out the hot soup into Mason jars she would seal an' take to the shut ins an' sick around her hometown of Beloved, Kentucky. She sat aside a small portion to go into her own Frigidaire for her own use.  Twenty-seven jars later an' she poured one little bit into a coffee cup.  Quickly she sipped on the soup as she checked the seal on each jar.  She wiped each with her dish towel an' set them upside down so they would seal.  Most folks would eat the soup right away, but if they was a reason it could not be eat, it was still good for a long while, sealed like it was.

About six o'clock, Uncle Billy Gilbert an' Sister Hazel Budder, the preacher's wife would stop by to pick her up for Wednesday Night Prayer Meetin' at Booger Holler Holiness Church.  Uncle Billy had stopped to pick up Sister Hazel just down the street so folks wouldn't talk as him an' Marie delivered her soup on the way to church.  They left an hour early every Wednesday night just to deliver a bite to eat to the folks in Beloved who might not have or be able to do for themselves.

Marie would arrive at church just like everyone else.  She didn't ever say a word about her day long venture.  She never told folks or bragged about the good she did. Uncle Billy never even said much about pickin' Marie up.  They just did it.  No need for braggin'.  No need to talk about it.  It was just what they did.

Years later, when folks talked about the saints they had known, two names always came up.  Uncle Billy Gilbert for the many things he did over the years for any an' everyone in the' Marie Lawson.  When they talked about Marie, they always called her "the soup lady, Marie".  Funny thing, no one could mention her without pausin' an' sayin', "she sure knew how to make good soup."