I love to eat. I love good food. And, if you look at my photos, you can see that I certainly eat plenty! I like to cook my own food as I’m always leery of restaurants and processed food. As a child, my mother cooked and baked every day. She too was a good cook, most of the time. There were certain foods she made that I did not like. Such as her stew. I make waaaay better stew than my mother ever did. If she made something I did not like, however, I did not have to eat it. She always said, “if you’re hungry, you’ll eat it; otherwise, you can do without.” It was her mantra at mealtime!
We lived out in the country when I was growing up, but on a main highway, and not far from a railroad track. We often heard the trains going past as there was little in the way to compete with the sound of the whistle and the wheels on the tracks. Because of our proximity to the tracks, and our location on a road heading to the big city, we often had hobos coming through our farm. One night, during cotton picking season, when we still handpicked and the trailers were parked in the front yard, Daddy found a hobo sleeping in a cotton trailer. He was not amused and chased him off. Daddy was very particular about his cotton. My mother, on the other hand, helped out any hobo who came to the door.
One day, in particular, I remember a raggedy looking man at the back porch, asking for food. My mother said she had some leftover stew she could heat up for him. (This was decades before microwave ovens so the heating would take some time.) He said that was unnecessary, he’d eat it cold, right out of the bowl. I still see, in my mind’s eye, that man, sitting on the back step, long, scruffy gray hair, wearing a denim jacket that had seen better days, hunkered over, eating the stew. I watched him for awhile from the screen door until my mother chased me off. When he was done, he left the bowl and spoon, licked clean, sitting on the step, and went back out the gate he had come through.
My mother would remind me, when I didn’t want to eat something, that I might find myself, some day, in a place where cold stew would even taste good. I’m hopeful if that day should ever come, that I would find myself in the backyard of someone as good as my mother who believed you helped people wherever you found them.