Thursday, November 10, 2005

Southern Sisters

Old Mrs. Hamilton has the bluest of hair you ever did see. Steel blue, kept fresh by a regular Roux rinse and a weekly visit to the beauty parlor where they fuss over her curls and catch her up on the latest gossip in the 'burg. Now and then, she fires up the faded red and white Ford for a visit to the dime store on the square. She always did love peeking at those parakeets in the back of the store and comparing them to her own. Each bird sings a different song, especially the caged ones with the brilliant feathers. I've heard tell that Ethel's voice could be heard for blocks away from Pate Street hollerin' at Oskie as he walked to work at the grocery store down by the train station. That was then, though. And this is now.
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Her granddaughter brings her to the restaurant on her "day out" because she doesn't drive anymore. Sometimes they pass the time together chatting, but mostly Miz Hamilton prisses on up in there all dressed to the nines and sets herself down at a table for one. "I'd like some half and half in my coffee, sugar" she says. We always keep a pint around, because we know that some folks enjoy the finer things in life like a good cup of coffee or tea fixed up just right like a celebration. We never know when she's gonna show up, but it's always an occasion. Her cotton shirtwaist tends to be floral, and fits snugly around her ample body. She smooths that linen napkin across her lap and settles down for lunch. Back when Oscar was alive and the kids were all over the place, she had her own cook. Rosa Lee usually wore a paper bag on her head while she was in the kitchen, but on special occasions wrapped it up in a kerchief just so and posed for pictures with the family. One of the reasons Oscar bought that Ford was so they could pick Rosa Lee up and she didn't have to walk over to Pate Street with that bag on her head.

Her daughter never could cook worth a lick...good cooks have to be taught and Ethel was not much in the kitchen until her twilight years. That one great granddaughter of hers would cross the playground and slide down the hill to enjoy a lunch of oven fried chicken and gravy with stewed potatoes and a green thing. There was always a biscuit or two and dessert was usually berries and cream on those special occasions. My, how she enjoyed those lunchtime visits! What was her name anyways? Oh..yes. It was Elizabeth. Elizabeth Jane. Her grandma lived right across the street.
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That young blonde waitress with the big smile looks a whole lot like my great granddaughter, and acts like her too. What's her name again? Oh..yes. Her name is Lauren. I bet she can cook real good. I sure do enjoy her smile and her attentions. That little gal always makes sure my tea glass is full and there's plenty of ice. Plus, we visit sometimes and she tells me about her boyfriend and her family. She's gonna make some lucky fellow a good wife someday. I imagine she'll even have her own kids to cook for, bless her heart. The blackberry cobbler is mighty good today. Thank goodness there's just the right amount of ice cream meltin' over the top of it the way I like it. Where's my pocketbook? I gotta leave that girl a shiny tip for takin' care of this old lady and acting like she cares. You think maybe she does?