Sunday, March 29, 2009

Carrot balls for all...

I was in first grade. My parents, younger sister and baby brother were all living in student housing known as College View Apartments in College Station, Texas. I'm not sure why the babysitter had left early, but supper needed to be prepared and I felt like as the oldest person the house, then I needed to get busy and cook something. It had to be... yes, carrot balls. I grabbed carrots from the refrigerator and a grater from the cabinets. Somehow I made it through grating the carrots without cutting myself. I mashed the grated carrots together with margarine, rolling them into balls the size of a small egg. I drug a chair over to the small gas stove, lit a match and turned on the stove. I poured olive oil into a frying pan and proceeded to fry the "carrot balls" until crisp. I had only fried a few when my parents came in from work. Thank goodness their reaction was not one of terror, however, I'm not sure what kept them from doing so. We can only imagine what might possibly have happened... a seven year old leaning over a frying pan full of hot oil... with carrots sizzling away. My mother thanked me for starting supper and said that she would be glad to help me. My father even acted pleased. As the years having passed I realize now that had they reacted quite differently I might never have felt encouraged to ever cook again! As a matter of fact, I enjoy cooking and know that my parents were always quick to cheer me on with my culinary endeavors.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why I love white Sunbeam Mixmasters

I suppose I was about six years old. We were living in Midland, Texas. My younger sister and I were outside "cooking"... making mud pies and just staying busy. Mother called me inside. I remember that at that age I was just above her elbow. She was standing at the kitchen counter, wearing an apron, mixing chocolate batter with her white Sunbeam Mixmaster. She looked down at me and asked me if I would like a new baby sister or brother? Sure! I told her I thought a baby brother would be real nice. She agreed. Several months later my brother was born! When he and my mother came home from the hospital, I was the first child to be allowed to hold my brother. I felt so grown up! We had bonded.


Bath time had to be an orderly procession of family members since we were a family of six. My sister, 18 months younger, a brother, 7 years younger and another brother, 15 years younger. I suspect the youngest was about four when one of the funniest events happened in our family.
Everyone was either reading, watching television, working on homework or doing chores. My youngest brother was splashing in the tub, as usual. I'm sure he was told at least twice to stop, however, he had a very vivid imagination and he was probably acting out a scene from one of his favorite shows, "Speedracer" or "The Rifleman". He got out of the tub, wrapped himself tightly in his towel and ran to his room. Once in there he yelled in the loudest voice possible, "Behold, the naked man of 1966!" You absolutely could have heard a pin drop in our home. Then slowly muffled sounds of laughter and a little snickering started up. Where in the world had this little boy heard such a proclamation?? We still kid my brother about this. And actually it was one of the funniest events of my teen years. I laugh out loud every time I think of it!

Saturday grocery shopping with my mother

My mother worked Monday through Friday, so Saturday was grocery shopping day... usually at Piggly Wiggly right on the boundary between College Station and Bryan. Early Saturday morning we would get out the grocery shopping specials section from Thursday's newspaper and plan our menus according to what was on sale and what was nutritious. Little did I know I was getting some of the best training a prospective wife and mother could ever need. It was several years off in the future, but for me the best part of this "task" was spending time, one on one with my mother. Being the eldest of four children it was a rare event. We sat at the same maple dinner table that I have in my own breakfast nook right now. Meals were planned carefully, with good nutrition in mind. The main course was never fried, only baked, steamed or broiled. Vegetables were always served, usually two types each meal and if not, there certainly was a salad with olive oil and wine vinegar used sparingly on top. We weren't dessert eaters, so we might pick up a bag of cookies, but often times we did not. There were plenty of apples since that was my father and sister's favorite. By Tuesday, my mother would be fussing that the apples were disappearing too fast and she limited my dad and sister to one a day. (Hey! The budget was tight. ;-) ) But the best part of that early morning shopping trip was purchasing hot dogs for Coney Islands for lunch... and they were served with Fritos... about the only time chips would be found in the Boykin household pantry. They were so good!! Now several members of our family traditionally ask for Coney Islands for their birthday meal. I will have to state that those Saturdays were the most special memory I have.
I side note to this, I just remembered how Mother would do the driving until I took Driver's Ed and then I would drive Mother.

Mother's Coney Islands

Boil 6 good hot dogs
Slather each hot dog bun - half with mustard and half with mayonnaise
Place hot dog in the bun
Top with Wolf Brand Chili
Add a little sweet pickle relish
Top with grated Velveeta Cheese
Add a few diced onions - not for the little kids though
Place in a foil-lined casserole dish (This was before Pam, you know)
Place under a broiler (not too close) until cheese is melted

Serve on paper plates with Fritos!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fishing with my dad

Fishing with my dad was a real adventure. I'm not so sure he looked at it the same way. My sister and I were four and five and quite the problem kids ... I'm sure my dad thought. He would cut a cane pole for us and hook a horned toad to it for bait. Never caught a thing... and didn't even think to wonder why... It was just great to be with the best father in the world!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dr. Upchuck

My father had a visiting professor in town, so my mother being the best sort of hostess a man can be married to, they invited the professor to come for dinner. His name was Dr. Upchurch. My sister and I thought that was the funniest name. We were in junior high and at that age, everything seemed funny! The professor's name reminded my sister and me of the word "upchuck". We started giggling and wondering out loud, wouldn't it be funny if we slipped and called him, "Dr. Upchuck?" My mother warned us that if we kept saying that we were going to actually say it in front of Dr. Upchuck... er Upchurch.
I suppose my mother decided to get us out of the house for the afternoon since we had such a bad case of the "sillies". My sister and I sat in the theater watching a movie that I had already seen. (Wish I could remember which movie it was.) The theater was full, so I suppose it was a popular movie of the time. On each side of us sat adults. I remember telling my sister what was about to happen in many of the scenes. We were probably annoying everyone since occasionally someone would look at us. We just giggled. At the end of the movie I told my sister that we better leave since Dr. Upchuck was coming for dinner.
The professor arrived at our home for dinner. My sister insisted she thought he looked familiar. Not to me. As dinner began, the man mentioned that he had been in the movies that afternoon. He also mentioned that he had sat next to a couple of giggly girls, one obviously knowing what was about to happen in the next scene. Ooooops! I remember feeling my face growing very hot. My mother caught on right away. "Would you girls serve the dessert, please?" I suppose she was trying to get us away from an embarrassing situation.
I can't recall all that happened next, but somehow, Dr. Upchurch made a comment about how he had been called "Dr. Upchuck" before. My guess was that he had heard me say that. I might as well have blurted out our name for him during dinner.
Moral of story: You never know who is listening!! Hello Dr. Upchuck where ever you are!! lol

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It was called the "cloak closet" at my maternal grandparents' home. It was located inside, near the entrance to the beautiful white, colonial style home situated on three acres of land in Dickinson, Texas. The cloak closet... probably called a "coat closet" now was not only for coats, but stored winter items such as hats, gloves and furs. Cardboard boxes stored items of mystery which were just too high for my younger sister and me to reach. There was no door to the closet, just a heavy, black velvet hanging curtain. My sister and I loved sitting in the cloak closet. The smell was a mixture of moth balls and scents of unknown origin. It was downright, well... spooky! We loved to sit in there, snuggled up together and tell each other horrific tales and stories of murder and cemeteries. It was like Halloween every day. Occasionally we would scare each other so badly we would run out of the room screaming, vowing that would not return... until the next time!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Under the table

I remember that when the peaches were being harvested at my grandfather's hobby farm in Midland, Texas, my mother and grandmother would busy themselves "puttin' up" peaches. This was before the fuzz on peaches had been bred out of them. I loved peaches, but after eating one all around my mouth would itch. I was about two years old. Standing on the front seat beside either my father or grandfather, I would have my left arm resting on their shoulders while they would check the peaches... and there I would be slurping peach juice from a peach cupped in a paper napkin. Life just couldn't get any better.

I somehow felt like the best spot in the kitchen was under the table trying to imitate my mother and grandmother peel peaches. They chatted away and I concentrated on imitating them, peeling and slicing. I think back on this and remember the cool floor and the smell of fresh fruit. Life was so good!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

From the beginning...

You would think that after mastering MySpace and Facebook I wouldn't be so intimidated by blogging. After all... My Space and Facebook are sort of like blogging... but this involves a lot more thinking and planning ahead. After all... does anyone want to know what I think?? Okay... you don't have to answer that. A friend told me today that I really needed to get busy and get my blog going... so here I am.

Recently, my parents passed away. June until now have been a blur of transition. My mother, so ill, in the hospital and being with her when she passed. My father equally ill and passing in the home he and my mother had built just a few years ago. This has produced a considerable amount of reminiscing and recollecting of events and stories from my childhood. I am the eldest of four ... a sister and two younger brothers followed. As we have gathered to pack up our parents' belongings, divide their possessions and prepare their home to be sold, many happy times were recalled... and a few stories that we just weren't quite sure if they were fact or lore. My hobby is genealogy and family history and through the years I have learned that where there is a wild family story, there is a speck of truth to the most bizarre of tales. Packing up pictures produced the most stories. Going through my mother's hope chest, full of clothes, linens and even old war medals and buttons from a wedding in 1899. These helped to recall other family happenings. A gentle touch, touch... feel, feel... a journey into the past.

So here is my beginning ... howling wind through cracks in a wood house, tumbling tumbleweeds across the plains. clouds, mountains and horses running!