September 19th, 2002

The gentleman is always properly dressed

Stories to tell

Part of the benefit of Paul's visiting his family in Arkansas was that he came back with a new arsenal of his family's oral history. As we sat in John Harvard's he told me story after story about things that his grandmother remembered. Paul's folksy storytelling is something I'd recommend to anyone. His normally subdued demeanor is replaced with a kind of quiet enthusiasm. It's almost as though knowing how the story turns out animates him. His humor punctuates everything, and the raised eyebrow or slight smile becomes as important to the story as the story itself.

Because you might not have the opportunity to be audience to his recounting, and because I like the idea of having things recorded, I'm going to keep a few of them here.

One of the first things that he told me was that he had ancestors who fought on both sides of the American Civil War. When you think about Arkansas, you don't really consider a great deal of familial crossing of the Mason-Dixon, and true to form, the connection to the "damned Yankees" is a little convoluted.

It turns out that Paul's great-great-grandmother was a a child when the Civil War came through her area. There was a chicken who had built a nest under their porch, and she had grown fond of that chicken and started thinking of it as her pet.

As happens, when the Union army came through the area, they began to gather livestock, chickens, eggs, and whatever else they could find to supplement their field rations. Paul's great-grandmother caught sight of a soldier who started crawling under the porch to go after her chicken and she freaked. She grabbed a nearby pail and hit him about the legs and butt repeatedly, screaming, "You damned Yankee! Get away from there! Don't you eat my pet chicken!"

The soldier was understandably amused, so he crawled out and sat down with this firey little girl and talked to her. They talked for hours. Eventually, his company had to move on and he said good-bye.

The chicken was left behind unharmed.

After the war ended, he came back to live with her family and work on the farm. When she turned 16, he proposed to her and they were married shortly thereafter, bringing his damned Yankee blood into a right upstanding Johnny Reb family.
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The gentleman is always properly dressed

"Iron Morty" brings you Grog

In honor of "Talk Like a Pirate Day..."

Admiral Sir Edward Vernon, nicknamed "Old Grog" because his cloak was made of grogram, a coarse material, was returning from the Caribbean in 1740. He decided to water down the crew's rum rations in order to improve efficiency. The result was named Grog. By 1795, lemon juice was added to fight against scurvy. By 1850, lime was more commonly used. Other elements were added, but the original recipe was always 1 part strong rum to three parts water.

INGREDIENTS: Dark rum - 50 ml (2 fl oz), Water - 50 ml (2 fl oz) Lime juice - 1 tbsp, Brown sugar or honey - 1 tsp, Cloves - 2, Cinnamon stick - 1 small

COOKING: 1. Gently heat all the ingredients in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Strain into a heat-proof cup. Makes 1 small cup.