Don’t pay the ransom. I have escaped! Well, not really. I hope that many of you readers have missed my ramblings here in the eMetro Times. If not, I guess I ain’t as good a writer as I thought I was!
I could say that I took a few months off to regroup and meditate and try to find the meaning of life. You know a lot of great writers have “writers’ block” and they go into hiding to try to “find themselves”. Well, I knew where I was all the time. I just couldn’t put finger to keyboard with all of the other obligations I had, BUT as they said in the movies…I’m BAAAAACK !
As you know, my original intent of my writings was to highlight FOOD and how it intertwines in our lives and becomes our memories with great stories and flavors. Food has the power to draw you back to your past – a favorite dish your grandmother made, a great cookout item your Dad used to cook, or maybe your next door neighbor always had something great to eat. In my case, my grandmother did not cook. My Dad could fry rabbit and frog legs with the best of them. And my neighbor Monell Neely had the best white icing cake I ever ate. I ALWAYS got the call to come over and lick the spoons and mixer blades when she made the icing. Damn good!!!
I say all of this to go back in time some and recall the simpler times when I grew up in a small town in America, Winchester KY, Population 9,000. It never changed for years. I walked to school every day from first grade to twelfth grade. (Except that one day I was trying to woo Shirley Prewitt and I rode her bus with her. They threw me off halfway through the ride.) We were not given cars by our parents to drive to school once we reached 16. IF you wanted a car back then you bought it yourself. I borrowed my Mom or Dad’s car for dates or going anywhere else–the simpler times. No fast food places. We got our meals at Jerry’s Drive-In Restaurant, The Winchester Restaurant, Marshes Dairy, Jackson House, Green Lantern Pool Room, City Club, Main Street Grocery, Carl’s Bar-B-Q, Ritz Drive-In, and the original Dairy Queen.
The Dairy Queen. Ahhhh, the good old days. It sat beside the railroad tracks on Lexington Avenue and across the street from the cemetery. Nothing like eating your lunch and counting the cars on the freight train as it rumbled by, or stood and bowed your head as a funeral procession drove by. There were only two funeral homes in town so there was a good chance you knew the soul on their final journey.
This DQ only sold ice cream, with one exception–the best damn foot long chili dog in the world….or maybe universe. What made it so good was the Chili…..Ohhh the Chili! I mention this only to let you know that that same chili dog (after 50 years) is still available, although not at the Dairy Queen and only in 6 inch increments, no more footlongs! That building is now a monument sales office (did I mention it was across the street from the cemetery?)
Now what makes this dog taste just as good as it did back ‘in the day’ is where you get it. The part I still love about my hometown is that we still have neighborhood grocery stores (not mini marts). Although we do have our share of those. But if you get back into the old neighborhoods in town you can buy all the snacks (and sandwiches on Kerns white bread) you need at stores like Hickman Street Grocery (not a deli). We drove seven hours back in February for a grandbaby’s first birthday. Before we went to see the kids I had to get me two of those chili dogs. Upon our arrival the only two booths were full of some of the locals so we had no place to eat but our car. I ordered me two chili dogs with onions, mustard and relish, a bag of chips, and an ALE 8 in a returnable bottle (the only way to drink them) and headed to the car. As I sat in that car devouring my childhood memories, I longed to see a freight train in hopes of seeing a hobo. Or at least count the cars. Or at least a funeral procession passing by to give reverence too. Ahhh, to be a kid again and grow up in simpler times.