Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cornbread, Snuff, and Bananas

My maternal grandmother was the only grandparent I really knew. Grandfather was a struggling Georgia accountant when he moved his family to Texas to start up a new soft drink franchise called Seven-Up. I've written about a few of my memories of Grandfather here.

gm payne

When I was old enough, I would spend weekends with Grandmother. We would visit Grandfather's grave, listen to her soaps on the radio, eat Bob's peppermint sticks and drink Coca Cola in bed while watching tv. I think she was the inspiration for the phrase "young at heart." She loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren. And babies. She loved babies.

gm horse

Grandmother was an excellent no frills southern cook. Her cornbread was outstanding. If she were alive today, she could give Paula Deen a run for her money. Grandmother's secret seasoning was bacon grease. She never met a vegetable that didn't require the addition of the nectar of the pigs.

penny gm
(Grandmother attributed her somber expression here to the fact that this penny photograph was taken without permission from her parents.)

She was born 30 years after the close of the Civil War in a small Georgia town. Her father was the town sheriff. I have visited the genealogy archives there and seen his signature on a copy of the census records.

Grandmother was a proper southern lady with only one vice of which I was aware--dipping Levi Garrett snuff. She claimed the addiction developed during her first pregnancy and she had never tried to kick the habit. A spit can was always by her rocker, and she would rock and spit and crochet and knit to beat the band. Of course, when the Preacher came to visit, the snuff can disappeared.

Grandmother had a wonderful sense of humor and loved bananas. But after eating them one day, she became deathly ill. Her prayer for healing was answered and she kept her promise to the Lord to never eat bananas again for the rest of her 94 years.

After she died, I would tear up every time I found myself near a short, sprightly, elderly lady. Her faith made a tremendous impression on me. I can see her now, up in Heaven with Grandfather, smiling down on me...

...and eating a banana!