Memories of Sunday morning dinners

Correna Wilson Pickens

Greetings from the chilly hills of Oklahoma! But, so thankful for the fabulous days of sunshine and with the temperatures rising above freezing! So, grab you another cup of coffee, and let your Sunday dinner settle down, especially after having a place to either park or an empty table or booth here in our fine city, on a Sunday, at noon time. Amazing, as my mother would really flip out if she knew her baby daughter was out searching for an empty parking spot at some of the open restaurants or later, even having to stand in line for an empty table. I can just see her, now, in my memory bank, of how she prepared chickens for a Sunday dinner. My “Papa” went out and had a long wire, made from some wire that was left over from the clothes’ line wire that he had bought at Bob Hall’s Hardware store in the small town, of Wilson.  One end was prepared for him to have a loop on it, to hold in his hand, with the other end bent back, making it to where he could stand a few feet away, while throwing chicken scratch feed out on the ground. I would stand and watch him, feeling sorry for the chickens, which she called, fryers. Little did I understand on why they were called fryers; but later in life, I realized they were “just the right age and size”, to be good for frying golden brown for Sunday dinners when company was coming! I felt so sorry for those young white chickens, ‘cause, while the poor chickens were eating, one or two of them, would be snatched up out of there by one of their legs. The number of chickens that were snatched out of the group, depended on how many people would be coming for dinner, which was what we all called our lunch time meal. Gee, there’s one thing for sure, there wouldn’t be many chicken dinners in today’s society, if we had to go through that process in order to get golden fried chicken for our Sunday dinner! But, my dear and precious mother, never batted an eye, or frowned in cleaning all of the chicken up, by dipping it in a large bucket full of boiling water. That was to make the feathers to be easily “plucked” off. And, guess who got to help in what was called,

“plucking” those feathers off! The next step was for Mama to clean out the innards!! Now, let me tell you, it didn’t take me long to know what the innards, were, as I took off when that process started. But, after all the washing and Mama dipping the fowl in a five gallon bucket of boiling water, which had been heated on her Home Range wood stove, she lifted one of the lids off of the front burner part, and held that chicken over the flame. She had to stir up the wood, to make the flames come up high enough to singe off the fine feathers, which she called “pin feathers.” I guess they got their name from being about the size of what Mama and other ladies called dress pins, which they used to pin their dress patterns onto the material. Well, I got in on some of that picking those tiny feathers off, and I would think, gee, I don’t think I will ever have any fried chicken or for that fact, any type of chicken, if this is what one has to do to get delicious fried chicken. Well, what great news it was to hear the local grocery store now had what was called “dressed chickens,” all ready to cook. I never could figure out why they called them dressed chickens, as nothing was there in the meat case, except some naked chickens! But, I want you to know that I am sure proud that God waited to send me to Mama and Papa, for their youngest, whom they called their Baby girl.  Now, let me tell you that I don’t think I was ever created to be a country girl, as I was scared to death of bugs, snakes and hated out-door toilets. Because I knew all types of spiders, bugs and even snakes lurked in those buildings. I even developed some medical problems because I would put off going out to that building, which Papa had built and was one of the nicest ones in our town, as it was capable of letting two people be in there at the same time. The reason, Papa said, was because every time one of us got in the toilet, someone else was always banging on the door for them to hurry up! Goodness, I learned that we were right up town, as we were the only ones in town that had a very nice, large, what was called a two-holer, because two people could use it at the same time. This tale takes me on to another era of when we moved into the edge of town, and still out-door toilets were the main stay of any home. Well, Mama and her sister, or my sister and her friend that came home for Sunday dinner could walk out to the toilet and take their time and relate all of their weekly adventures and activities to each other, in privacy. And, believe me, in those days, there wasn’t very much privacy in the rural homes, or even in our home after we moved to town. The average home couldn’t afford what would be just a living room, as there always had to be one or two beds around the edge of the rooms, as most people had large families. My mother often said some had large families just to help their father during planting or harvesting crops and gardens, in order to feed the family and milk-cows. But, one thing for sure, all were ready to fall in line, wash their face and hands to rid their face and hands, often arms, of the dust of the fields. We raised sugar cane which was taken to where a family made molasses. Everyone paid him with some of their syrup, as dollars were very scarce in that period of time. The Thirties had a hard time recovering from the great depression of 1929. Oh, all you young people would never survive those ancient days of yester-years, but, don’t feel bad, because those of us that has seen many decades evaporate into the eons of time and history books, couldn’t either. We have become sissies, according to what your grandparents, and those of my age, had to endure. So, be thankful that you can walk into any restaurant and usually find on the menu, golden fried chicken.  So, may I encourage you, in behalf of me and all your grands and great grandparents, hold onto your family’s heritage, treasuring all the things that you enjoyed at “Grandma’s and Grandpa’s” country home and good country living. All of that is by-gone days of what we call “precious memories.” So, remember, it is not the length of life, but the depth of life, which Ralph Waldo Emerson often quoted. So, go forth into the day and make precious memories for your family to record through either or both, preferably, in written notebooks or in photographs. Just hold onto those “precious memories,” and some day you will be making your own. Proverbs 10:7a – “The memory of the just is blessed.”