Under The Chinaberry Tree

My grandparents lived modestly. Most from their generation did.

It wasn’t a choice. It was necessity.

My grandmother and grandfather were teens when the depression hit, so instead of enjoying their formative years, they worked to eat. They worked to survive.

I heard a lot about the depression. The thing I heard most often was that no one had anything; at least nothing of significant value, and certainly nothing that was frivolous.

When I came along in the early 1960s, the post-World War II ...

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That Sweet, Sweet Tea

Something happened to tea along the way. Something bad. And it needs to be stopped.

Growing up in Ashdown, Arkansas, in addition to water, tea had just two other ingredients; tea and sugar. Not necessarily in that order.

This sacred recipe was handed down through generations of southern grandmothers, who made sure that the right portions were in place and were never to be adjusted.

There were two simple tests that ensured sweet tea was made correctly. Did your teeth hurt when you ...

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Oh, Man

It’s a good thing women are in charge of decorating.

Each house in America would have the “Dogs Playing Poker” series on the living room walls if the guys had our way.

But humor me for a moment. What if men were given permission to have things our way? Would the world be that much different? That much worse?

I submit to you, that without ever talking to each other, with no collusion or complicitousness, men would make changes around the house – ...

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When Life Gives You Lemons

I’m seeing lemonade stands again.

At a time when all you seem to hear is that the number of young people quitting their jobs is growing, I’m seeing young folks setting up to sell lemonade.

It makes me smile. And I stop and buy some.

My first exposure to good old capitalism was when I was about eight and my sister was six. I saw a kid on TV selling lemonade, so I told my mother that I wanted to set up a ...

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Thanks For Checking

People in the South check on each other.

I’m not sure if this happens elsewhere, but it’s almost innate for a person raised around where I was to check on folks.

In Ashdown, Arkansas, people left their keys in their cars, so they obviously didn’t lock their houses. So if someone was checking on you, they would crack open your front door and yell, “Woo Hoo,” and wait until you yelled, “I’m here, c’mon in,” before entering.

When I say, “checking on” someone, ...

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What’s In Store

Malls were the beginning of the end. Although, in the 1970s when Texarkana welcomed the opening of its mall, those of us who lived in the area were all too busy being excited about having a mall to see that by shopping there we were hurting our neighbors.

“What could be better?” we thought. All of the stores you could want under one air-conditioned roof, vendors selling trinkets, overpriced jewelry, and a food court with pretzels the size of manhole covers.

Maybe ...

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Pet Milk Memories

Pet Milk was a kitchen staple in most Southern homes in mid-20th Century America. It had as many uses as a coffee can full of bacon drippings.

Thankfully, the two weren’t used interchangeably.

Opening our Frigidaire, you’d see that the top shelf of our refrigerator always included a gallon of Borden’s Milk, a stick of Parkay under a see through glass butter dish, and a can of Pet Milk.

Pet Milk (a brand name for evaporated milk) was the Swiss Army knife of ...

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Dishing It Out

I miss the restaurants of my youth.

In Ashdown, Arkansas, the restaurant everyone gravitated toward was Miss Mac’s. Its official name was, Mac’s Cafe.

It started as a small truck stop off of Highway 71 in Ogden, Arkansas, which is about halfway between Texarkana and Ashdown. I remember going there when I was small, but the restaurant moved to the same side of the highway in Ashdown sometime in the 1960s.

Mac’s was a place where every level of society came to devour ...

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Just A Bit Peeved

I used to pay little attention to the world’s little idiosyncrasies, but now they seem ever present. And it’s more than slightly annoying.

I can’t be the only one.

When I was getting change back from the fast food drive-thru recently, it all became clear. The world is against me.

The lady was nice enough, but she handed me back my bills, coins, and receipt in one big wad. Then she looked at me while I sorted it out. I put the money ...

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Toying With Time

I don’t recognize toys anymore. Our grandkids are coming from out of state to visit and I can’t find anything to get them as a surprise.

Why? I don’t know what anything is or does.

Toys should teach you how to prepare for life and be fun.

Bakugan – Japanese Power, was one of the first things that showed up under a search for popular toys. The website says:

“The Great Collision. The event that once captivated the world’s attention now seems like a ...

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