Children’s table wasn’t bountiful, but fondly remembered

Published 11:09 am Monday, November 19, 2018

Growing up in the city of Memphis had many advantages and our family took part in most everything available to us. We were feet away from the bus stop that would take us downtown for shopping or a movie.

The neighborhood library and city swimming pool and park were within walking distance. There was a locally owned and operated sundry store at either end of our street.

So,as I’ve written here before going, to Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Jim’s in Dundee in Tunica County was always a treat.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

They lived on beautiful Delta farmland as far as the eye could see. Their little piece of land held a sprawling house with porches all around. There were outbuildings to explore, chickens to chase, pigs to ride and horses, too. The once whitewashed house was now covered in graying clapboard with only hints of white here and there. Rockers with slats missing peppered the porches as did floors stained by many long days of rocking and chew spittle.

There was no decor. No pretty vases of flowers real or fake. No nice landscaped paintings mounted over the mantle. The floors were scrubbed clean and bare, furniture sparse. Only utilitarian pieces were scattered about from room to room. And every room held a wood heater and a bed or two.

I have never known a more perfect existence in my life than the one I imagined took place in Dundee. Nearly every Thanksgiving our family would load up in the old blue Ford station wagon and head south. Anticipation and excitement always high.

Once there we piled out and headed in different directions. My first stop always being the kitchen. Aunt Bobbie’s house always smelled of cooked food made with love in abundance from scratch. She loved to eat and loved more to cook. The aromas of leftover breakfast bacon, biscuits and coffee mixed with the promise of a Thanksgiving dinner that made your jowls ache from just thinking about.

I would never linger long because you could be put to work quickly if you looked bored. I would make my way outside and run and play with my cousins and siblings. We all played hard knowing we would soon be able to sit down to dinner. At the appropriate time the children would be gathered into the kitchen to eat. The adults had already eaten and were themselves scattered about lazing in rockers and daybeds and on hay bales.

The children were seated around a small table scrunched into a corner of the massive kitchen to eat. We had cold mashed potatoes and turkey legs that held little promise, and the wings which were even less tasty. Our string beans which once gleaned with browned butter and smelled divine were now shriveled and lying in a pool of congealed butter. The rolls were hard and the cranberry sauce was warm and a bit limp. The dressing which my Daddy always complained had too much sage was scraped in burned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Desserts were limited because bourbon or whiskey had found it’s way into most of the recipes. Dried yellow cake with sticky chocolate icing was about the only thing left when it was our turn at the table. The adults would rush us along so the cleanup could end and they too could relax and recline for a spell.

Aunt Bobbie who always wore a crisp white apron had no doubt been on her feet since way before the sun arose. We would finish up and slowly make our way back outside where we would sit on the long porch dangling our legs over the edge. Despite having not been served the very best of Thanksgiving dinner we were too stuffed to complain.

We sat at the children’s table and marveled at the bounty such as it was. We ate until we could feel turkey in our toes and laughed until our sides hurt. The memories still abound.