Ms. Alice’s Wonderland, Part 1

07 Jan

Ms. Alice has just passed into the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ at the time of the writing of this entry; she was 91 years old. Like many elderly people who were grandparent figures to me in my early childhood, she stood the test of time and lived a good, long life, thanks be to God.

Though I am sad to hear of her passing, I am relieved that she is no longer afflicted with the pains and burdens of the earthly body. She suffered from arthritis even when she babysat me, and that was over 20 years ago.

To talk about the South, how could I forget to tell everyone about my babysitter from when I was really little? Ms. Alice and her husband Mr. Charlie lived on a farm, and many elements of the Southern life could be seen at their house.

Both of my parents worked when I was little- my father ran the family business that my grandfather owned, and my mother taught as a special-education teacher at a local elementary school. My brother and I were kept by Ms. Alice from the time we were very young.

Ms. Alice was always like a grandmother to us. Being at her house was like being at my grandparents house. They all were born in a common era and so had a similar feel to me. That or my childlike mind just tossed them all into the grandparents category because they were older than my parents.

Let’s begin the blog with the distinctive features of my staying with Ms. Alice when I was a kid!

First, there was the ride to her house: usually my father would take me and my brother so my mom could get ready for work, and we would go either the “long” way or the “short” way. I can’t remember what actually determined why we took the “long” way other than my brother and I begging my father to take us. The “long” way took us through the town, and the “short” way took us down a dirt road that was close to our house.

The short way would take us by several ponds, and in the South, the ponds are filled with snakes. One time my father saw a snake, stopped the truck, grabbed his sling shot, and fired it at the snake. He was a good shot, because when he hit the snake, it flew into the air and wriggled back and forth.

On to Ms. Alice’s we went.

Ms. Alice almost always had breakfast for us, and the breakfast could consist of any number of things. I remember she always kept the cereal called KABOOM at her house: you know, the cereal with the clown on the box that mainly consists of smiley faces but has little sugar stars interspersed throughout it.

But that wasn’t the only breakfast we might have. Ms. Alice was fantastic with food- if there’s anything I remember about her, it’s her food, which was delightfully, thankfully, Southern through and through.

(The likelihood of my forgetting something about the food she made when I was a kid is very high- again, we’re dealing with distant memories, but in the meantime, I’ll do my best to remember.)

So let’s continue with breakfast.

Another big thing Ms. Alice would make for breakfast was sugared toast. Sugared toast is ridiculously delicious to be so easy to make. I can still remember Ms. Alice opening the oven and looking at it to pull out the sugared toast, and telling me and my brother to stand back.

Last year, I made sugared toast after thinking about this, and you can read about it here: the blog on sugared toast. My sugared toast is nowhere near as good as hers, I’m sure.

Another great food that Ms. Alice made were the toasted cheese sandwiches. I didn’t know what these were called when I was little, or I called them cheese toast or something like that. She made them two different ways, likely depending on the amount of bread she had.

The first way involved an open-face piece of bread, upon which she would cut hunks of hoop cheese. I was always fascinated how the slices of cheese would all melt together and be one big spot of cheese on the bread.

The second way is that she would create the above masterpiece but add bread on top of it. If memory serves, she also cut up the toasted cheese sandwiches into finger-food sized slices. That made sense, since my brother and I would probably have not been able to deal with the whole sandwich by itself.

As far as breakfast goes, that’s all I can really remember. We may have eaten other foods, she may have made other things for breakfast that just completely slip my memory now, but I specifically remember those foods and how good they were. And I honestly never tired of eating them.

Ms. Alice’s breakfasts left a mark on me. To this day, I love cheese toast and hoop cheese. I don’t really eat the KABOOM cereal, but I don’t eat cereal often anyway, and besides, she didn’t actually cook that. The food she made was what was super delicious.

In the next part, I’ll tell you all about lunch at Ms. Alice’s house.



Posted by on January 7, 2011 in food


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15 responses to “Ms. Alice’s Wonderland, Part 1

  1. gigi

    January 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Stephen, you started staying with Mrs. Alice when you were 3 months old and she kept you until you started to school.
    Trey started staying there when he was exactly 2 months old on Jan. 5, 1987. Just FYI.


  2. gigi

    January 7, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    And of course, she kept him until he started to Kindergarten…She ended her career of babysitting with Trey.

    • enamouredslave

      January 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      Yes, I remember she stopped babysitting after Trey started school.

  3. Alicia Hales

    January 7, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Stephen, Omgoodness! This is absolutely one of the best tributes I have ever read, and then for it to be to my sweet grandmother just fills my heart with such unimaginable joy and gratitude. My emotions ran wild as I read this. I giggled, and I cried. Your words flow with talent and with such a fortitude for visionary truth. I could see every moment that you brushed with your words. Even “stand back”. This made me laugh. Thank you so much.

    • enamouredslave

      January 7, 2011 at 6:52 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the blog! Don’t worry, I took care of the roaming comment, so everything’s clear. Also, I have three more entries I wrote that will be posted over the next few days, so be sure to keep reading the adventures.

      More than anything, I hope the writing brings comfort to you and your family.

      Ms. Alice exposed me to a LOT when I was a kid, so I had to write a lot in this blog.

      • Alicia Hales

        January 8, 2011 at 10:25 am

        Yes, it absolutely does. You should have watched Daddy as I did while he read it. He smiled at the things he was reading. I could only imagine the parts at which he was stopping to smile. He said he wanted to save a copy, so he wants me to print off your articles. We are all looking forward to the next. It was so funny to me that he began to discuss what YOU liked best for LUNCH! He brought up your love of fishsticks, and how it gave Grandmama a reason to buy them!! Your friend mentioned in another comment that THIS is the reason you do this. Yes….it is, Stephen. You have a talent to bring smiles. Thank you so much. I shared this with others who have stayed there throughout the years, and they just giggled and began sharing memories. Again, I am just welling up inside with gratitude.


  4. gigi

    January 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I have always said that she couldn’t handle any more after Trey, but I was just kidding him….

    • enamouredslave

      January 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      Trey wasn’t that bad as a child. He and I fought a lot, but I mean when he kept to himself, he never did anything troublesome.

  5. gigi

    January 7, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I know….I was just kidding him about his ending her babysitting days….

  6. The Onyx Plate

    January 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Absolutely warming! I had a couple of people like this in my life while growing up, but unfortunately, not as many memories as you did…you are truly blessed (and I’m almost positive you know this).

    I did a post called Mini Tastes of Remembrance on my blog. The daughter of the woman I did a tribute to had the same reaction. It’s amazing how much each one of us touches others lives daily…

    “This is absolutely one of the best tributes I have ever read…fills my heart with such unimaginable joy and gratitude. My emotions ran wild as I read this. I giggled, and I cried…I could see every moment that you brushed with your words. Even “stand back”. This made me laugh. Thank you so much.” ~Alicia…..This is why we do this, Beaux…this is why… *Kudos to you*

    • enamouredslave

      January 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm

      Yes, yes, you’re so very correct, my friend. It was this very day that I began to realize what it meant to use one’s talents for the sake of the greater good! Through blogging, we can touch lives, encourage and help people, and give them strength in warmth in a world that is all too often lacking those qualities.

      • The Onyx Plate

        January 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm

        So true, my friend…. 🙂 keep up the amazing work.

  7. casey quattlebaum

    January 8, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I have to say this was so good to read this morning. It brought back so many memories. I remember a distinct smell around the kitchen area but I’ve come to realize it must have been around the laundry room. I have only smelt that smell in one other persons house and it was their laundry room,an elderly couple actually.I was brought to tears smelling it, oh, the memories that came flooding back. It had to be Tide with a mix of something else, maybe fabric softner. Also, I remember finding roly poly bugs under rocks and playing with them like they were the best things. Nap time, or what was supposed to be nap time, lots of giggeling girls. Lots of sweet memories I will never forget.

    • enamouredslave

      January 9, 2011 at 10:39 pm

      Thanks for the comment! You know, I can’t really place the scent to which you’re referring, but I bet if I were to smell it again, the memories would flash right back to me.

      • Alicia

        January 10, 2011 at 11:28 am

        I’m not sure either. Perhaps a mixture of Tide, flour (biscuit makin’ goes on back there), and coffee. Isn’t it amazing how we get comfort from these scents?


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