Or, Past Things of Remembrance
Great-aunt Merle was really the sister of my step-grandmother. One summer I was nine and spent a good of time with her in Prairie Hill, Mo. (One hill, one street, one church = Prairie Hill. Seriously. It was a hill.) At the beginning I thought a week with my step-grandma would equal the total of all the one-on-one time I'd spent with my step-father of three years. And I still don't know how I started out with step-grandma and ended up for a week at great-aunt Merle's.
The bait and switch turned out to be interesting for me, since Merle lived in an old family house full of daguerreotypes of dead people and old McGuffey readers. Merle seemed to encourage these solitary pursuits. She did explain that death was the only thing that made people be still enough for a daguerreotype, and if I saw any daguerreotypes of people sitting in chairs? Dead. I had a lot of fun sifting through the daguerreotypes into piles of "Dead" and "Not Dead."
The McGuffey readers were boring, because there are only so many one syllable words. There were more hens and rats and fewer cats and dogs. "See Ben. See Ann. See the rat in the box."
I thought of great-aunt Merle and McGuffey readers when Gary and I were trying to find the Penney's driving around the mall.
Gary: "Where is it! You said it was on this side!"
Me: "No. It's on the other side."
Gary: "You SAID it was past the Dicks! There's the Dicks!"
(God has graced our mall with a Dick's Sporting Goods store. You can imagine.)
Me: Juvenile giggle.
(Gary drove a little more.)
Gary: "Oh! There's the Dicks. This mall has two Dicks! One's a big Dicks and one's a little Dicks." (I don't know if this is true. They might have two signs for Dicks. We have to bellow "DICKS" whenever we see the sign.)
Gary: "I know my uncle Dick is my uncle 'Rick' now. I wonder why this isn't Rick's? And I wonder if they still use 'Dick' and 'Jane' in reading books."
Me: "They don't in McGuffey readers. Too many letters."
Afterward, we went to First Watch for breakfast. I think the 'Dick' conversation with the McGuffey readers combined with my first bite of toast and coffee led me right to the remembrance of what I ate every morning at Merle's. Coffee. Coffee (oh it won't hurt you, just put a lot of cream and sugar in it) and fried toast (I didn't argue about the toast). I've never seen fried toast on the menu at any restaurant, but perhaps I'm too citified.
I was in heaven. (THIS woman never had children AND she GETS me. She knows how I eat! It's like a grilled cheese only with no cheese.)
1) Take thick slice of homemade bread.
2) Fry in butter on one side.
3) Fry in more butter on other side.
4) Serve with coffee.
Merle died at 100, if I recall.