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.