Thursday, October 31, 2013

What's In It Any Way?

Sometimes folks just don't "get it" when we try to share our culture. Sure, they love the biscuits and sweet tea. However, when you look closer, you'll notice they are eating Pillsbury Biscuits and have Sweet and Low in their tea. They just don't know any better, as my Auntie would say. And, they wonder why it's just not the same at home as what they experienced down here.

They want the light fluffy biscuits and the heavy rich pound cake, but cannot imagine using that much butter (as in real dairy rich cream butter). They liked the collard greens, even after they stopped holding their nose. However, once again find the idea of even discussing something called "fat back" repulsive. And, when told that is the "secret" ingredient, they turn a lighter color of the dish.

Now if someone served them Head Cheese, that was down right cruel. Just hope your guests said they enjoyed it and left it at that. The best answer to, "What's in this?" is "Just a mix of meats in an aspic." Feel free to describe "aspic",  however, this is one recipe you only want to share with the most repulsive guest.

The Chicken Fried Steak is awfully confusing to them. Where's the chicken? And, OMG, fresh Craklins (aka Pork Rinds) - fried pig skins, seriously? They will probably never be able to purchase another snack bag of Pork Rinds again.

And, why can't they find the tender little Butter Beans we served them? Those thick starchy Lima Beans just don't cut it. Once, again, do we have to add bacon to everything?

Then there is the southern dish that has been bastardized by the Kraft Food company. Those taken in by this awful fake will be ignorant for life unless they are enlightened by the real thing. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the blue box (aka Mac and Cheese) should be called on the carpet for impersonating a fine southern delight. Real authentic Macaroni and Cheese is a thick casserole style dish that consists of pasta, lots of cheese, eggs, and butter. After being cooked, the firm consistency can be cut in blocks and served warm or cold to the eagerly waiting family member or guests.

Yes, you can find copies of some of these fine old dishes in restaurants up there. However, both the inability to serve a dish without a flourish of presentation or, worse yet, allegiance to the true recipe or use of all of the ingredients, will cause a failure to produce the real thing by even the best chefs, that generations down here enjoy everyday.

But, then if it isn't worth doing it right, disappointment will follow. Honestly, I really don't care. Call us hicks or scoundrels, rednecks or good ol' boys, but don't think you can pretty up our food or God forbid make it healthy. As Mammy said, "It ain't fittin'... it ain't fittin'. It jes' ain't fittin'... It ain't fittin'".

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Photography Post - Boat Houses on Lake Summit

When I was 7 or 8 years old my parents' best friends had a house on Lake Summit in NC. We would often join them for weekends up there. Lake Summit is a small lake (only 300 acres) just outside of Tuxedo, NC (population 106) near the metropolis of Zirconia (population 2,456). 

There were no mansions on the lake, only family cottages, some nicer than others, but each having a boat house. The lots around the lake were on a steep grade so the boat houses would be on the water, there would be a pretty good set of stairs up from the boat house to reach the dirt road that encircled the lake, then after crossing the road, another good size stair case to reach the house. (The first picture does not reflect the normal topography.)

I am old enough that I can remember many families having those beautiful wooden Chris Craft boats. Most families had ski boats because almost everyone skied. There was some fishing and a lot of swimming.  I have so many fond memories of time spent on that small lake.

And, as Bon Jovi sings, "Who says you can't go home?" This past weekend, I was rambling around that part of the world and found myself in Tuxedo and the next thing I knew I saw the sign to the right - "Lake Summit Road". I turned down it, almost fearing what I would find. Certainly the old families had sold out and those delightful cabins had been razed and mega-mansions built in their stead. 

The road was exactly as I remembered, although it had been at least 30 something years since I had been there. The lake was as beautiful as ever. As I drove slowly on the hard packed dirt road, circumventing the lake, it was like stepping back into time. Yes, there were changes, but nothing major. And, if there were mega-mansions, they were hidden by trees high above the road. 

I can remember the Kirkpatricks' (my parents' friends) cabin was one of the smaller ones. Next door was this larger home owned by two or three families. Every time we were up there, the neighbors would all be up with a gaggle of children and dogs in tow. They had this large deck on the second story of the house that was shaded by the trees and overlooked the lake. It was not unusual to hear one them summoning anyone who walked by to join them for martinis in the afternoon (or Bloody Marys at breakfast for that matter). 

It seemed like there were no strangers. Everyone knew everyone else. Even though my brother and I were just guests, we weren't treated as such. We were free to run at will. If we found ourselves on the dock of someone else's boathouse around lunch time, then they were sure to include us at lunch. We were often invited to go skiing with someone's parents you just met that morning. It was a safe, carefree, family environment. Well, safe despite a lot of adult beverages.

Daddy and "Mr. Bill" (as we called Mr. Kirkpatrick) would tell us horrifying tales of the Lake Summit monster who came out at night and preyed on children wandering about. It was enough to keep all of us in the house at night, for fear of getting eaten. Mama and "Miss Anne" (Mrs. Kirkpatrick) would spend the days chatting about life, how Miss Anne could improve their house, and visiting with the neighbors. 

Thinking back on those days, they almost seem magical. Certainly, there had to be times of boredom, however I don't recall any. I cannot imagine that much drinking (as I know there was) going on and no one getting hurt or killed. But, there weren't any tragedies that I recall. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Coffee Club

The one hurdle I needed to cross in writing my book was my brother. No one else bothered me. All the other characters had passed on, bless their hearts. But, my brother still had some skin in the game and I did not want to hurt his feelings. I, also, wanted to put him on notice that this was my idea first.

He had called about some estate issues when I casually brought the subject up. "I am going to write a book about Mama. You have to think about it, her life quite interesting, all she did, how southern she was. In fact there were parts of her life that were comical. And, she helped people." "Oh, I agree with you. She had an interesting life." "Remember all those folks who came out of the woodwork at the visitation - all her friends from AA?" "Who could forget that."

"Oh," and he added, "don't forget about the coffee club." Obviously, I had the green light there.

I had forgotten about the "coffee club". My brother said a nicely dressed man came up to him at the funeral and introduced himself. He told my brother how much he enjoyed my mother. The gentleman went on to say he had known her for years, but had not see her lately. My brother said he did not know this man or recognize his name.

Then the gentleman went on to say, it wasn't the same every Wednesday morning without her. This peaked my brother's attention. Upon inquiry, the gentleman told him that she was part of their coffee club that had met every Wednesday morning for 17 years at one of the local restaurants. He said there maybe a dozen or so of them. And, that she was a dedicated member and rarely failed to attend unless she was out of town.

My brother asked what the purpose of the club was and the man replied, nothing particular. They just enjoyed each other's company and would chit chat for an hour or so, then go on about their day.

Who knew? Neither of us for sure. Our town is only so big and for her to be a member of a group who met in public for 17 years and we had not heard a thing about it? It wasn't AA because they would never meet in public. I don't think it was church related. God only knows and right now he's not telling. Another mystery of my mother.

Photography Post - Pumpkin Time

It's Pumpkin time again. This past weekend I was in the mountains of NC and found this delightful specimen. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Eclectic Tack

I have told before of the treasures Stanbury bought for High Acres. Well, they were not all for Mama. Daddy would have him "on the look out" for certain items for him also. The advantage was, it was always a deal. The trick was just what he would bring back.

Since we had horses and usually folks to ride them, Daddy had Stanbury looking for saddles. Stanbury assured him this would not be a problem. My horse, Rusty, was hunter, I rode hunt seat, and had my own saddle so I was not in this game. Everyone else rode western, but I don't think Stanbury would have recognized an English saddle if he saw one.

The first saddle he brought Dad was a regular western saddle in good shape. Dad was thrilled. Saddles were expensive and he got this one for a steal. The following week, when Dad called him about something on the farm, Stanbury told him, "Bill, ar found yar a big saddle, a right fancy one." Knowing Stanbury, "fancy" could mean anything.

In this case, "fancy" meant real "fancy". Stanbury had managed to procure a Mexican parade saddle made of black leather covered with Mexican silver embellishments. And, it was huge, much larger than the size of a traditional large western saddle.  Since there were pieces of silver covering most of it, God only knows the amount of silver that was on it and how much it weighed.

I was surprised Dad did not politely tell Stanbury that a parade saddle would not do (much less one that looked like that one) or he would have just left it in the tack room as ornamentation. But, oh no, Dad, much to Mama's dismay, used that saddle with pride. When he led a group of us trail riding, there was no doubt who was in charge. The only thing he lacked was a standard to carry with him. And, I assume he did not have one of those simply because it never crossed his mind. Thank God for small favors.

When I thought that was over the top, I should have known better. Several weeks later, Stanbury showed up with a lady's side saddle. Now, that was a novelty. And, if there was one thing Daddy loved, it was a novelty. So when we got ready to take guests on a trail ride, Dad would start in the tack room and tell them they had choice of saddles. Usually, they assumed he meant "sizes" of saddles or English or Western. What they found was quite the eclectic assortment.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Captain Phillips, a Movie Review

Given this film has been out for 3 weeks, I doubt this review is going to matter to many. That said, I offer my two cents any way. Tom Hanks offers a superb performance in the title role as Captain Phillips. The many close up shots of his face show the serious steely gaze of a man who never minces words. But, then he is from New England. 

The story is the true tale of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. The story unfolded on international television, so there is no spoiler here. The story is not what happened, or how it happened, or how it ended. The story is the part the public was not privy to - the storming of the ship, the tension between Phillips and the pirates, and the tension among the pirates themselves.

And, although Hanks brought an academy award winning performance to the screen, Barkhad Abdi, playing Muse, the lead Somalian pirate, deserves serious recognition for his role as the dedicated, fearless (but not reckless) pirate. In fact the band of pirates was a terrific role played by all. If the Alabama had not been boarded and the events that followed happened to another ship with similar consequences, this could have been a minor Clancy novel. (Jack Ryan being a Navy Seal coming to the rescue.)

The story was interesting, the filming excellent, the dialogue brisk - but not hard to follow, the casting well done, and the action - a pulse pounding thriller. Paul Greengrass' direction (also known for the Bourne franchise, the Green Zone, and United 93) made the 134 minutes go by quickly. 

The only problem I had was the nagging issue in my head of the negative press given the real Captain Phillips when the film was being promoted. He is currently embroiled in a lawsuit involving some of the crew who say he endangered their lives by not heeding warnings to stay further off the Somali  coast due to piracy threats. Apparently he had received an email to go as far as 600 miles off shore as a safety measure and, not only did he not share this information with the crew, he chose to stay closer to the coast to keep the route short and thereby save time and fuel. 

In a perfect world, I know Tom Hanks, as Captain, would never make such a reckless choice. And, in the movie, there was little evidence that Captain Phillips did either. However, just knowing that the real Captain possibly jeopardized his crew's safety, made me question the story. But, movies are a get away for us. And, perception is reality. If you saw Tom Hanks and how he protected his crew and his ship, you would never think that Captain Phillips would ever do differently. I just wish there had not been the negative press gnawing at me as I sat on the edge on my seat hoping the cavalry arrived in time.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

In A World, a Movie Review

This may be a film that you never see on the marquis at the local megaplex. However, if you do, it is well worth the 93 minutes of your time. Lake Bell wrote, directed, and starred in this comedy that pits women against men, shows the power struggle in a generational change, and ties all this up with the messiness of family issues and a budding romantic relationship between two awkward capable adults. 

The trailer for every major movie epic starts with "In a World . . ." That low, serious voice draws us in, making us sit on the edge of our seat wanting more. This movie, In a world, is about the business of movie trailer voice overs, something I never thought much about before.

Lake Bell plays the role of Carol, the daughter of one of the greatest Movie Trailer Voice Overs in the business, Moe Solomon (Rob Corddry). She is struggling with her career in the same field and getting little advice from him with the exception of the industry doesn't want women, the public will not take you seriously. 

It is amazing, despite having ADD is spades, being socially awkward, having no real life, and basically being homeless, how far talent will take someone. When you add these factors together with your arrogant father having his newest 30 year old bimbo, Jamie (Alexandra Holden), move in with him, being oblivious to someone's attraction to you, and finding yourself suddenly successful, it makes for a poignant story wrapped in a comedy with a touch of romance. And, no, this is not a chick flic at all.  I think my DH will attest to that.

Other cast members include Ken Marino playing Gustav, Demetri Martin playing Louis, and Eva Longorio playing herself. The pace is quick and the story is not necessarily predictable. Yes,  I recommend this movie. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Nightmare of Past Personal Fashions

Fashions change and unfortunately, more often than not, looking back our past choices were painful. At least in my case, "What were you thinking?" comes to mind. But, fifty something years gives one a half century to make errors. A scary thought.

And, usually only a few decades are painful - thank God. Luckily, we learn from our errors and go for several years without making fools of ourselves before once again choosing outfits that photos years later make us question our decisions. 

Evening wear is a prime example of the ebb and flow of good taste. Luckily, the fashion Gods shine down upon us and, for a few hours, allow most us to look sophisticated and sexy. Everyone needs a little glamour in their life to know how the rich and famous live.

In going through my Mama's things after she died, we found pictures of her and my Daddy dressed for formal affairs while they were at Wake Forest and then when he was at the Medical College. Daddy looked quite dashing in his white dinner jacket and Mama was so elegant in her gown with the strapless satin bodice and tulle skirt. Other photos showed her in a satin gown with a tight bodice and flowing skirt.

My daughters always had very sophisticated beaded gowns that flowed over them like liquid. The, mostly strapless, designs made them look much older than their teen years. Moving across our den they seemed to flow rather than walk. Even though you never want your teens to grow up too fast, it would always take you aback to see your daughter look so fabulous.

Also, in Mama's things I came across the dress I had for my first formal, a Junior Senior Prom. I had not seen it in a while, so long ago, I had forgotten about it. As I pulled it out of the box, I noticed the pink dotted Swiss skirt had brown stains on it. The wide white eyelet shoulder straps were faded in yellow, as was the white eyelet edged apron that fell over the front on the skirt. Perhaps, my idea of "sleek, sophisticated, stylist, and sexy" had yet to be developed. Well, better yet, looking back at that dress, I doubt those four words were even in my vocabulary. 

One would think that fashion sense would be genetic. If so, it definitely skipped a generation here. Finding that dreadful dress was so painful I just hoped no one remembered it. Right now I am going to claim ignorance rather than bad taste. Better yet, I am going to claim amnesia. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

George, George, Where are You?

The two delivery boys Daddy had at the drugstore when I was growing up were George and Elroy. They were both great guys, George in particular. He had this great personality that most people just liked. He looked just like Flip Wilson and sometimes acted like him. However, he wasn't the brightest bulb on the tree. After several days of his being out most of the day on a delivery run which should have taken an hour or two, Daddy began to wonder what was up. Was he going home for a nap, was he visiting friends, where was he all that time?

So, one day he asked an older friend of his who was retired to follow George around and see where he was going. Dad's friend came back at lunch (long before George did) just laughing. Come to find out George was just riding in circles. Basically, there was no rhyme nor reason to how he made his deliveries. He would make a delivery on one side of town, then make a second on the other side of town, the third would be back on the initial side, and the fourth would be in the middle that he had driven past twice.

From then on, Daddy put a map of the city up on a wall. Each time before George went out, Daddy and George would map out his route and number his packages. The system worked fine until one day, when George showed up about an hour before he should have. Daddy learned he had been on the other side of town, became confused about an address, so he drove back to the drugstore to ask for directions. Daddy suggested he just stop and call next time.

Always being the innovator, Daddy decided that he would put a two way radio in the delivery truck. That way he could always get in touch with George and Elroy if he needed them back at the store and it would give them a way to contact the store directly should a problem arise. He spent time showing both of them how to use the radio. The first few days, George and Elroy went out together to see how the radio worked and had no problems. This was going to help make things run smoother.

Every time George was out, Daddy never could get him to answer the radio. Finally he asked him, "George, did you hear me trying to call you on the radio today?" "No, sir." "Are you sure you know how to use that radio?" "Oh, yes sir Mr. Bill. I can hear folks talking on it all the time. But, I keep turning that dial and I never can find WDMJ, my favorite radio station. You know how I love to listen to my tunes when I'm driving." Daddy just shook his head. When he asked Elroy about the radio, Elroy told him that he could use it, but every time he got in the truck after George, it was never on the right channel.

Needless to say, Dad gave up on the radio with George. But, all was not lost. George made a great bartender at Daddy's parties. Everybody knew George and everybody loved George. He would show up at our house sharply dressed in a white coat with a bow tie and insist that he was there, not only to tend the bar, but to answer the door. Guests, not knowing any different, would think we had a butler and a bar tender. Dad laughed about it and made sure he introduced George to everyone who did not already know him. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Going That Extra Mile

My Daddy always told me the "customer is always right". He was all about customer service in his drug store. I can remember him sending his delivery boy over to the house of one of his customers to deliver a crate of Coca-Colas. When the delivery boy was late coming back, Dad inquired if there was an issue. "No sir," George responded, "Miss Wood wanted me to bring back her crate of used bottles for the deposit".  "Well, that makes sense, and, that took an extra thirty minutes?" "No sir. But going around her back porch and the pool to pick up all the bottles did." Dad never questioned that. If that was what the customer wanted, so be it.

Mrs. McGee who lived around the corner commented one day that it sure would be nice if he would carry Coburg milk in addition to ice cream, to save her a trip to the store. The next week, Dad called the Coburg man and asked if he could drop a quart of milk by the store each week, even though Daddy carried Pet ice cream. Mrs. McGee was thrilled to find a quart of Coburg milk waiting for her every week.

He had one customer, Mrs. Erlene Finch, who would call once a week with a list of what she needed in addition to her medicine. And, she was most particular, but since she was fairly consistent Dad just made sure he always had on hand the items she requested. Each week her standard order consisted of 2 cartons of Pall Mall Menthol 100's, a case of Pepsi (as in the wooden crate of bottles), 2 rolls of toilet paper (pink), 2 bars Camay soap (a pink and 1 white), 1 roll of Rolaids,  and 1 roll each of Lifesavers in Butter Rum and Spearmint. Since Camay only came in pink, we figured out early, she wanted a bar of Camay and a bar of Ivory. Sprinkled in the weekly order were an assortment of laxatives, cough drops, pencils, band aids, rubbing alcohol and, basically I think, whatever came to her mind.

Every other week, she would add the latest edition of Look magazine and once month she would order a box of Coty powder in Ivory Cream, Revlon Eterna 27 Lotion, and a box of Calgon Bath Beads. She would  also give a list of greeting cards she needed when the occasion arose. And, we were spared no detail. She had confidence that we would know just the card to send to her aging Aunt Mildred, who was turning 94 and still lived in the same house she and her true love Ernest, who had passed away 5 years prior, built 65 years ago on land her Daddy gave her. Or one for her 6 year old niece Katie, who played "Some Where Over the Rainbow" in her piano recital that same year, however "Miss" Erlene did not make it to the recital because her back was acting up. 

Most of the customers I knew. However, some of these more eccentric ones who always called in, I never met in person, just spoke with them on the phone or knew them by reputation only. Sometimes, it was only the delivery boys who met them in person. They would come back with stories about the customers that we swore they had to made up.  I often threatened to ride with them one day just meet these characters in person. But, I never did. In a way I was scared I would be disappointed. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lost Between the Devil and Sinterklaas

Did I miss something? Like Halloween, or maybe Thanksgiving? I hope not. I haven't even bought my Halloween candy and yet while downtown today I noticed they were already putting up the Christmas decorations. Excuse me, but last time I checked, we took our holidays one at the time.

Doesn't everyone understand that red and green clashes horribly with orange and black, let alone brown, orange, and green. Perhaps the children should just dress up as carolers and in lieu of saying "Trick or Treat", sing a stanza or two of "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear". That would solve all the problems - maybe not the ones in our nation's capitol. There, we can all pray for miracles and only hope, come next November, the electorate does not suffer from amnesia as is so often the case, but I digress.

Back to the matter hand. Come to think of it, there is that movement among many churches to offer alternatives to the pagan holiday of All Hallow's Eve (Halloween) for the young impressionable minds of carnivals and parties to prevent them from just what, I am not sure. Most of us make it to All Saints Day unscathed and with our souls and morals intact. 

Well, the exception being the citizens of Detroit, who endured "Devil's Night" in their city between the 1970's and mid 1990's. This was actually October 30th, the night prior to Halloween, but close enough. Annually, on this night, the inner-city neighborhoods of Detroit would suffer 100's of incidents of arson and vandalism. Many say that quarter century of crime and horror were the being of the downfall of Detroit. 

Evangelicals and the citizens of Detroit aside, Halloween is still a commercial success for business and a good time for all ages. And, everyone knows the yuletide is the trifecta of the Christian's celebration of the birth of Jesus, the arrival Santa, aka St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, and then the rolling end of the New Year.  

But, once again it is the poor Thanksgiving Turkey that gets short changed. What used to be the greatest family dinner of the year has now become a meal lost somewhere in the melee of football games,  a giant parade of balloons, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. 

I fear this was not the initial plan. Wasn't Thanksgiving the feast of peace and thanks for a good harvest shared between the pilgrims in the new world (happy to still be alive) and the native Americans (beginning to wonder when these visitors were going home)?

So I inquired as why the haste to "deck the halls" so early in our fair town. The answer - because the opening ceremony is Thanksgiving night. Can the Turkey have his day?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Oh Chris, and We Thought We Knew You.

Every school child learns the poem 

"In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  
He had three ships and left from Spain; 
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain. . .
“Indians! Indians!” Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.
But “India” the land was not. . .
Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he’d been told. . .
The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright."

Then later in Western Civ, thank you Mr. Connor, we learned a little more of the details of that first landing in the Bahamas when he "discovered America". President Benjamin Harrison encouraged teachers to have their students celebrate that date in 1892 on the 400th anniversary. President Franklin Roosevelt later made it a federal holiday and then in 1970 it was officially moved to the 2nd Monday in October.

But, there are issues with Chris's reputation. Obviously there is the death and destruction his discovery brought to the indigenous peoples in the new world. Not to mention, the small issue of just claiming their land. There is also a move across many parts of academia to change the name of the day. 

Documents published by UCLA's Medieval and Renaissance Center State:  "While giving the brilliant mariner his due, the collection portrays Columbus as an unrelenting social climber and self-promoter who stopped at nothing— not even exploitation, slavery, or twisting Biblical scripture— to advance his ambitions…" Ouch.

A group organized as the Intercontinental Gathering of Indigenous People in the Americas were against the quin-centennial celebration of Columbus Day.  They declared October 12, 1992, "International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People." 

Then the National Council of Churches chimed in, preaching from their pulpits that their congregations also not recognize the 500th anniversary of Columbus' landing. Their official proclamation called on Christians to refrain from celebrating the Columbus quin-centennial, saying, "What represented newness of freedom, hope, and opportunity for some was the occasion for oppression, degradation and genocide for others."

In reality, Chris only got as far as Cuba. John Cabot, an Englishman commissioned by Henry VII was the first European to set foot on the mainland of North America when he landed on the Island of Newfoundland in 1497. And, legend and many historians, have it that Lief Ericson, the Viking, first visited Newfoundland and left a colony there 500 years before Cabot. 

But, that wasn't an issue for Señor Columbus, he relayed back to Queen Isabella that he had in fact discovered a new trade route to Asia, even though he knew better. He referred to the locals as "Indians" to support his story. Eventually, due to accusations of tyranny, brutality, and incompetence, he was removed from his position as governor of the colonies by the Queen and returned to Spain. 

Later in life Columbus wrote two books. Book of Privileges (1502), "detailing and documenting the rewards from the Spanish Crown to which he believed he and his heirs were entitled", and a Book of Prophecies (1505), "in which passages from the Bible were used to place his achievements as an explorer in the context of Christian eschatology*." 

So, truth be told, Chris visited the Caribbean, had a grand time, and made a name for himself. He managed to bring 90 men and 3 ships across the Atlantic ocean in the name of Queen Isabella, in the process, garner credit for discovering two continents, neither of which he ever set foot on, one of which had been visited 500 years prior, and in then falsely report that he has, indeed, found the Far East. Oh yeah, and there was that issue of genocide, oppression, pillage, exploitation, and enslavery. However, those words don't rhyme well in a child's poem and why get into the details.

So now it depends on where you live as to how Columbus is celebrated or, more importantly remembered. The states of Alaska, Hawaii, and South Dakota do not officially recognize the holiday. In lieu, Hawaii, celebrates the discovery of Hawaii by the Polynesians. (Although it is not a government holiday). South Dakota celebrates "Native American Day" on the second Monday of October.

Nevada and Iowa do not celebrate the holiday either, although the governor in both states is "authorized and requested" by statute to proclaim the day each year. Nevada just feels the date is too close to their "Nevada Day" and their state holiday should trump the discovery of our land. (I have always loved that western independence.)

Always marching to their own tune, and being sensitive to others, the "The city of Berkeley, California has replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day since 1992"

Internationally, the observance has many names. Through out the new world it is recognized also as Italian Americans Day, All Nations Day, and Day of Americas to name a few.

Perhaps the history books should delve a little further past Christopher Columbus' lauded exploration westward and tell more about what occurred after he set foot in the new world. Unfortunately, the sins cast upon the native people would have most likely been brought on by any European explorer, however, I would hope most would have shown more civility and humanity. At least, we could hope.

eschatology - the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Customer Service

Even though my home town was fairly small when I was growing up there were still three or four drug stores. And, each had their own very dedicated customers. Dad was good friends with all the pharmacists in town, in fact the whole medical community was very close. This played well with Mom since she insisted Dad was in the "Medical Profession". Today I guess that could be code for trafficking in illicit substances. Bur, I digress.

A majority of folks were coming through the door to get their monthly medications, some were coming from their doctor's office feeling under the weather, and some were just in there to pick-up a random item or two. In addition to the band aids, cough syrup, aspirin, lotions, shampoo, and such, since the drugstore was right behind the hospital, Dad always had a good selection of gifts, boxes of candy, and Hallmark Cards for people to take patients they were going to visit.

Whether there were two or twenty customers in the store, Daddy was quick to make sure anyone who was either old or not feeling well did not have to wait. If there was going to be any delay, he was quick to find the customer, explain the situation and offer to have the medicine delivered to their home post haste. No matter how old or young, or socio-economic status, he always had time (or made time) to answer anyone's questions about their medicine.

There were the folks who were convinced. no matter how much Daddy tried to tell them otherwise, that their medicine would cost than if they bought it one week at the time. "Well how much is the 'scription for my heart pills?" "That will be $15." "$15! For how long?" That is a month's worth." "Well, I can't afford that, just give me enough for a week." "That's going to cost you $8." "I'm not paying $15. I'll just get it a week at the time. That'll be cheaper."  And, with that Daddy would walk around the counter and come to some agreement with the customer to make sure they got the full month's supply at one time to ensure they took it.

Older customers would call in, "I need my pink pills. Dr. Johnson is going to call in another prescription for my water pills. And, I got three more of those yellow ones, so I guess I need some of those also." Instead of saying anything ugly, we were all taught to get as much information we could, their name and phone number. Then after we hung up, pull out their file and see if it were possible to put the pieces together to figure what they needed based on what we knew.

Things got complicated when generic drugs came out. Daddy was quick to recommend them to his customers and try to get the doctors, much to the dismay of the drug reps, to write the prescriptions so they could be filled that way. He was always concerned about saving money for people, especially the poor and elderly, who often needed more medication and had less means.

However, generic drugs looked different, and when Mrs. Hydrick, who had been taking her blue capsule every morning for ten years, suddenly found herself with a bottle of orange tablets, she really had to trust Dad that it was going to keep her feeling as good. And, Daddy inspired that trust. He often said you have to listen to them before they will ever hear what you are saying.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Just Smile and Try Your Best

As I have said before, my father was a pharmacist and owned a drug store. I grew up working there. Each pharmacy in town attracted their lot of characters, I know Daddy had his share. And, being Dad, he just took them in stride, much to the dismay of the rest of his employees. Granted most people who came in were regular folks we all knew. And, if Daddy didn't know them before they first came in the store, he made a point of trying to get to know them at some point. He always said it was important to know the people you were serving.

He knew which college team a customer was a fan of. He knew the names of their sons who played on the high school football teams. He knew the ones who had elderly parents who lived out of town, and would remember to ask about them. It was rare that some one came in he had met before and he could not recall their name. He was quick to share a joke or make a side wager on the upcoming game.

Daddy generally liked people but he preached that customer service was the first thing his business offered. This was drilled into everyone who worked for him. "Just smile and try your best no matter what they ask for," was what he preached.  Whether it was making sure a customer could locate some hard to find item or having patience with an inane question. 

One lady always wanted us to call her a taxi. She insisted we call "Dash Taxi" as opposed to the other service. It never failed when I got them on the line, she would shout at me, "Tell them to send #7, I don't want #9 mind you." This was fairly humorous in a small town where there were a total of 3 cabs and 2 services, But,we aimed to please.

The delivery boys had even more tales to tell. There was one lady who never had her money ready to pay, so she insisted they "sit and visit" while she rummaged through her pocketbook for the right amount. One customer conveniently always needed a light bulb changed or the trash taken out every time one of the boys showed up with their delivery.

I remember Mr. Wilson was deaf as a door nail and would scream his order in over the phone. You could always tell it was Mr. Wilson, because whoever was trying to take his order was holding the phone a good six inches away from her ear for fear of losing her own hearing. Then when they went to make the delivery they knew, from experience, to go around back and bang on his den window to get his attention to answer the door.

Mrs. Danztler was a lonely widow who fancied herself much younger and more attractive than she was. The delivery boys swore she would always answer the door in a revealing "nightie" and invite them in. Much to her disappointment, they thought it best to stay on the stoop and just hand her the package. Every time a new delivery boy was sent there, Daddy made sure the newbie was not aware of her habits. Then when  the poor soul got back, Daddy would quiz him, among other things, about visiting with Mrs. Dantzler. Dad humorously saw that as a rite as passage.

The store was named White's Professional Pharmacy and Daddy made sure that the service fit the name. If he didn't do what he did for a living, Daddy would have been fine as long as he was around people. For years after he died, I had people still telling me, "You know he always had something good to say." He made good customer the rule, as opposed to the exception. And, made all us see the humor in difficult situations. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Daddy's Cutless

Daddy had always wanted a '57 Chevy to relive his young adulthood. He never found one. However, just before our oldest daughter was born, he showed up with a red 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible. So much for the '57 Chevy. That car was in excellent shape and he kept if waxed so you could see your reflection in it. Needless to say, it was his pride and joy.

Daddy loved children and wanted grandchildren badly. Our daughter was due to be born on his 55th birthday. She missed it by a day and he never forgave me, like I wanted to be pregnant one more day. Our daughter was the apple of his eye. While I was working she was in day care. He would think nothing of just stopping by and picking up her on a whim. 

One day, he went by to pick her up and I had not left the car seat. Knowing I would kill him if he dared take her without her car seat, he just went and bought his own car seat and took care of that issue. So it was not unusual to see the two of them tootling around town in his convertible with the top down. He always said if had known grandchildren were so much fun, he would have had them first.

After he and Mama divorced, I told him if he ever thought about dating, that I feared a car seat in his convertible was probably not a "babe magnet". He just laughed and said he wasn't worried about that, he had his priorities straight. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Enough Said, A Movie Review

I am probably the only red blooded curious American who did not turn into The Sopranos each week. Yes, I missed one of the best dramas ever. I know. But, I digress.

That said, I never saw James Gandolfini in that role. However, his performance as Albert in Enough Said lives up to his professional billing. Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Eva, in this film shows a depth of acting I have never seen from her before. Her incredible comedic talent shines (as always) but she goes further to be able to play the vulnerable side of a her character.

The New York Time raved "Line for line, scene for scene, it is one of the best-written American film comedies in recent memory and an implicit rebuke to the raunchy, sloppy spectacles of immaturity that have dominated the genre in recent years." In fact, most reviews of this movie have been very good. 

There is a supporting cast of characters, most of whom are well developed to put together a really good story line. The movie is funny and yet touching. However, the tale is like a train on a track. You are in the coach, and as the story moves along you get an idea of where it is going, then you realize you are heading for a train wreck. When you emerge you are unscathed, but you look at the wreckage and have a lot of questions. If the train only could have made it to one more station.

Perhaps this will make no sense to most folks. It was a good movie but it needed several more scenes. I do, however, recommend an investment of 93 of your minutes.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Oh Fluey!

OK, I go my flu shot - early. So why do I feel like I have been hit by a Mack truck and have a fever? At least with a hang over, there was a good time you are paying for. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Saying We Are Sorry is Not Enough

How can my fair state of South Carolina boast the slogan "Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places" and then have one of our citizens, a law enforcement officer no less, bring shame by the following incorrigible act:

Two Hollywood stars claim they were harassed by a police officer--all because of their race.  Cherie Johnson and her boyfriend Dennis White were driving through South Carolina on their way to Myrtle Beach for a romantic getaway when they were pulled over for allegedly speeding.  A little while later, the couple got on the highway and passed some cotton fields and decided to stop and get a better look.  They took some photos in the field and returned to their car to find a cop parking behind it. That's when things took an ugly turn. Cherie and Dennis claim that the officer grabbed his gun and told Cherie to get in the car.
The couple claims the officer proceeded to interrogate them about drugs and even searched their car.  They say he pulled a tea bag out of Dennis’ bag and alleged that it was marijuana, but then realized his error.  At one point, they claim he told Cherie that there was a warrant out for her arrest, but later admitted that there was no warrant.  Both Cherie and Dennis were handcuffed, though they weren’t arrested.
Marion County Sheriff Mark Richardson issued a statement on Monday in regard to the actors' claims: "Discrimination in any form, including racial profiling, is strictly prohibited by this department and as Sheriff of Marion County SC, I can assure you I will take immediate and appropriate action to investigate the allegations of racial profiling made by Mr. White and Ms. Johnson. This matter will be dealt with by an internal investigation within the department and I will also ask the State Law Enforcement Division to review the allegation made against Deputy Barfield."
Both actors have starred in movies and television and were in the south because they had been teaching acting workshops there.  Cherie starred on “Family Matters” and “Punky Brewster,” and Dennis was featured in the film “Notorious.”

Now, I am sure you are aware of this, unless you have been living under a rock. This incident has been commented on and referred to by every talk show on every network I have seen in the past 24 hours - as it should have been. And, it has set the reputation of our state (and society) back 50 years or so.

This is totally unacceptable. I will say, I was extremely proud (and impressed) by the Marion County sheriff, who came out quickly with a very articulate statement saying that this is unacceptable behavior and that the investigation of the incident had immediately been turned over to state law enforcement division (SLED). If these allegations are proven true, which I have no doubt what so ever that they are, I would hope the Sheriff would take immediate action to relieve that deputy of his job, and if not, Governor Haley step in and do so.

This shows that there still are people in South Carolina who harbor racial prejudices. My parents did. However, South Carolina is not the only place this horrendous act could take place these days, it probably happens in every state in the union. However, as a southern state, we are seen as suspect in any racial issue. 

But, I would hope that my generation is the one that grew up with the understanding that all people are created equal. Being born in South Carolina and have lived here 52 of the 54 years of my life, I love the Palmetto State and am very proud to call myself one of her own. However, I do not want to be affiliated with, compared to, or grouped with this idiot racist. 

I personally offer my apology to Cherie Johnson and Dennis White. I am offended by these actions, and know that nothing we do can take back that horrible experience they had on the side of the road in Marion County. My hope is that they will be able to look past this one low life and see that he does not represent all the citizens of South Carolina. If any good comes out of this, it will be the unfortunate reminder that there are still ignorant people out there who need to be brought into the 21st century. And, if they still have these unoffensive thoughts, at least keep them to themselves.