Long before the medical factions started warning us about things like eating too much meat, eating too little fish, using good old fatback grease for frying and cooking and eating eggs with cracked shells, we were doing it all.
By we, I mean our entire county. We’re Southern. It goes without saying.
My grandfather, who was Scottish, believed that a penny saved would keep him solvent. I’m not saying he was tight, but for heaven’s sake, he was Scottish. He believed in land ownership, because, he said, they’re not making any more of it.
At his death, he owned nearly 1,000 acres, which he left to my grandmother till her death, at which time it would be divided between the three daughters. My grandmother, who taught school, was a very kind woman who believed in helping her fellow man, even if that meant giving that penny saved to the downtrodden. She had generosity of heart.
She and my grndfather got along the way most married people do — they had their ups and downs and could carry on an argument for days and then suddenly, it was over. And like everyone else, the arguments usually were over money.
Mammy (my grandmother) went grocery shopping on Saturdays. During the week (after retiring from teaching school) she farmed alongside Daddy Dwight (my grandfather). The days from Monday through Friday were long, hard days, especially Friday nights.
Friday nights were the nights when Mammy made out the checks to the farmhands, caught up the ledger and prepared for another week beginning Mondays.
Daddy Dwight, after inspecting the fields, made up the schedule for what needed doing to the tobacco fields: Poisoning (for worms), watering, topping (taking the flower tops off the plants so that the growth would go to the leaves and not the flowers), deciding when it was time to “put in tobacco” and hire the extra hands, getting the fuel for the tobacco barns, checking the barns and flues and just getting ready for production in general. It was not an easy job for either of them.
It was early one morning, a Saturday, and Mammy was getting ready to go grocery shopping at the Red and White. They always got their eggs at the Purina place, and bought them eight dozen or so at a go — the cracked, cheaper eggs. Daddy Dwight was in charge of that. He took the pickup to town, and Mammy took the car.
So, Saturday afternoon, I was sitting at the table, knees up and feet on the seat of the bench, reading a book. I even remember the book. It was “Lad: A Dog” by Albert Payson Terhune. Having spent the night with head under the covers and flashlight focused on the page, I only had about two chapters to go.
The argument between my grandparents was like a buzzing mosquito in my ear…I wasn’t really listening, but the voices were rising. Mammy had the patience of Job and really didn’t lose her temper till she had taken as much as she could take and then, boy howdy, everyone better stand back, ‘cause as in the words of the miners, “she’s gonna blow!”
Funny, but all her female progeny are just like that in every respect. So I hear Daddy Dwight fussing about Mammy throwing out some of the eggs. She tried to tell him that some were cracked a bit too much and she couldn’t cook with them. He kept insisting that there was nothing wrong with them and how wasteful she was being.
I saw her eyes narrow and lips thin to a straight line. I closed my book with a snap and just as I was getting up to leave the room, the house, maybe the yard, it happened.
Mammy picked up one of the eggs that was severely cracked and said, “Here, Dwight, let me show you why I can’t use this egg,” and smooshed it on the top of his head. Then she rubbed it in.
And the fight was on.
The egg fight, which started in the kitchen, eased onto the screen porch and then on out into the yard. They were throwing eggs at each other like a pair of 6-year-olds.
Neither of them were laughing. They were intent on coating each other with as much egg as they could.
I had run down to my Aunt Margaret’s and ratted them out and she and my Aunt Pat went up to the house to break up the war.
Both were slightly out of breath, but we never knew what would have broken up the fight first — their anger dying out or running out of eggs. And remember, they had at the very least eight dozen of them.
I don’t remember how long it took them to start speaking to each other again — three days or three weeks. But I know it took the aunts three days to clean up the slippery, gooey mess of eggs dripping from the cabinets, the table and the walls onto the kitchen floor.
My cousin Crystal (Aunt Margaret’s daughter) and I were talking about this “comedrama” this morning. We were laughing so hard we couldn’t catch our breath.
I told Crystal that I thought I would blog about the the great egg caper, that enough time had passed where it was funny. But Mammy and Daddy Dwight never laughed about it. It was not allowed to be brought up in their presence.
So, if I get a visit from the other side tonight, I’m thinking I’ll know why. I just hope they aren’t carrying a box of eggs.
Sandi McBride is a resident of Jefferson who blogs regularly and enjoys her garden and her furry and feathered friends. She is a wife and mother of two sons.