Thursday, October 16, 2014


Part II of Miss Florrie's Caffay

The stone was still here beside me on the desk, just now as I sat down with my first cup, and I gave it a fleeting fond glance before I tuned in to the world.   It’s on a white paper plate, for just as I went out to retrieve it from the hosta bed yesterday, the sun went scurrying behind a great bank of clouds, from which it has not peeked even a ray from then til this.    I brought the small bit of concrete into the house, its white flat scrabble-tiles intact and stuck tight, like a raft on an iceberg, and put it beneath the big sunny light of the breakfast table, with all the white surround to reflect and enhance.

The color in yesterday's picture was chosen from about nine offered in a little peacock-flash of color icon on my phone, and I chose it because it was almost the perfect sepia of the pictures of that time---didn’t a lot of us think as we looked at pictures of Grandmas and Aunts and Uncles in their prime, looking out sternly from the black blotter-pages of those wide scrapbooks and heavyweight small albums---didn’t we imagine that the whole world of our forebears must have gone on, day after day, living and dying, commerce and love and cooking and art---in those pale goldy-tan tones?

That's my Mammaw, top right. 

When I returned from getting my second cup, I reached out a hand and laid it gently on the cool tiles, still rock-solid these eighty-something years, and felt the unyielding flat IS of it---that Mississippi mosaic which has been just THERE for life and death and wars and unrest and times of unspeakable heartache and joy.   The flat little unassuming face of the tile, with its two-faces-of-the-coin colors, and that pound of gray concrete poured and laid by long-stilled hands---that’s just something to think about.  This piece, had Chris not found it, would have still been there in that hot Delta sun season after season, amongst the other rubble of the site, or brushed and shoveled into a pile of like shards, tumbled back into the earth, with no meaning, no use, no history worth remembering, and nobody to care.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Addendum, November 1

I STAND CORRECTED---however formal those words, and antiquated in phrasing, they DO apply.   The floor IS still there, in all its black-and-white semi-Harlequin glory.  Amidst the desolation of the streets and stores of that small section of town, that flat, dusty mosaic stands memorial to our small part of its history, and I seem to have one of the few broken shards.  AHH, if those tiles could talk, they'd speak of our small Buster Browns, our black and white saddle oxfords, our first high heels and scuffed sandals, as well as the tracks of farm boots, high-tops, penny loafers, motorcycle boots, flats, wedges, and wing-tips, in and out day after day. 


I’ve been reading the Outlander series, about a woman in 1945 who was transported back two centuries into warring Scotland, merely by touching one of the historic Circle Stones she was visiting on holiday.  And as I held my hand today on that cold flat bit of my own history, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the doorway---that portal to 1957, with just a whiff of hamburgers frying, a burst of loud laughter from a tableful of hard-working men echoing down that kaleidoscope corridor, and the bright red and white of Miss Florrie’s Caffay, set in a movie of Time and Place and music and colour and the innocence of our teenage selves.

It would be close in that windowed space, the crowded  booths lively and loud, the air redolent of good coffee and burgers frying and the whiffs of Woodhue and spray-net and Miss Florrie’s Toujours Moi.   An underlying note of winter-long woolens and barely-aired mothball-stored items, as well as the Vitalis and Aqua Velva aura surrounding the leather-jacketed young men.  Scent and colour is as vivid in the the scene as the Rock ‘n’ Roll on the radio and the wasptail pepper-sauce in used Tabasco bottles on the tables.
Just being in the place for an evening, a quiet supper with the family, the men with their after-work hair slicked down, speaking across the aisles, and the Mamas admiring a new baby two booths down, was a homey thing.  My parents ordered The Special, and I the requisite hamburger---disappointed, somehow, that it came naked on a plate, without the crackly little wrapper to release that singular, tongue-curling mustard-pickle-and-onion scent when it was rustled open.    There was no rush, no splendor to the evening, just relaxing in a familiar place, plates pushed back and a cup of coffee alongside a slice of Pearlene’s pie, and the world was as right as it was gonna be for a while.



But I know I wouldn’t want to retrace it.  Not for all the decades between, not for the do-overs or the remarkable Firsts or the wonderful moments, the missed opportunities---nope, wouldn’t return.  Not for any disappearing dreams of yesterday, but it’s fun to imagine.  Perhaps for a Friday night or two, after a ball game, flushed with victory, and when the energy and the reds and whites and voices were like fireworks under a roof, or a quiet afternoon with girlfriends, our four sets of petticoats subdued beneath the table, as we sipped Cokes and shared secrets.  Ginger would lean close and whisper, "There's a baw-eh, and he LIKES you,” and that first   little heart-swell of romance would flutter into being.

But there’s no returning, no re-take, no second spin of the wheel.    There’s just so much a rock, no matter how embued with nostalgic magic, can do.


Ang Specht said...

I liked this post. It was fun to imagine all that you described--all that I will never know. When I was a teenager, I always wanted to eat at a restaurant with the "red checkered tablecloths and jukeboxes". There was NOTHING like that around here. I had never seen it. When I was 19, I went on a Harley road trip, and, lo and behold, in Tennessee, I got to eat at a restaurant with red checkered tablecloths and a jukebox. :) I was so happy! It was like this ridiculous thing on my bucket list, ha, ha.

I wish sometimes that I had got to experience some of those types of things in the actual time frame. My generation didn't really leave any good, wholesome memories and it makes me sad. Therefore, I love to read yours! :)

Patsy said...

Oh Dear! My generation made memories and now at times they come flooding back some make the Bennie and I smile and others we remember were sad. Back then there were rules and truth. Today it's all about how you feel and what you think is right. There was order and a code of ethics.

GSL said...

Beautiful piece of writing! That felt like how I always imagined my mother's teenaged years were in 1950s Ohio with my prim Grandmother reigning in her daughter's inclination to return an awkward glance at the boy two tables over.

donna baker said...

I watched the Outlander series, but my sister said I need to read the books, so I guess I'll give it a try.

Cheryl said...

Oh, your writing just takes me back to a simpler, better time, and as I read your words, I can just imagine sitting right there..experiencing it all. You have such a Divine gift and way with words. So thankful you choose to share with us here. Thank you for visiting my blog and for leaving such kind encouragement behind. Your visit was a blessing. :)

racheld said...


I'm so glad you got to experience the reds and whites and the nostalgia of the time. A jukebox is a definite bonus.

And YOUR GENERATION is making great waves in the world, in all sorts of ways, and I cannot think of a more wholesome, worthwhile, long-lasting memory for good than your own family. The way you tend your home and your family, teaching and cooking and caring for. Instilling good values and traits in children is an uncountable blessing, paving the way for generations.

Don't you ever think that there's something greater to do than reading with a child, or singing or exploring the countryside. Lessons learned just walking an Autumn path are sometimes some of the most vivid and useful and lasting.

You don't know how much I admire you, from WAY OVER HERE!


racheld said...

Miss Patsy,

The memories do flood, don't they? I guess that's why my paragraphs and posts are so wordy and long---there's just so much to express of those times and ways.

Always glad to see you here!


racheld said...

Dear GSL,

What a lovely thing to say! The thoughts just come, and tumble and wrestle with each other as my fingers try to fly fast enough to capture them before they fooof away.

I'm always touched and honored to have stirred a memory or a wish-I'd-known-those-times in someone who drops in, and kindling your imagination of your dear Mother's youth is s lovely thing, indeed.

It's always nice to have you visit,


racheld said...

Yes, Donna---Do. We used my Birthday Barnes and Noble card for the first five, (oddly almost to the penny), and Caro and I both have them on our Nooks.

There's a wee bit of blush-writing in there, but I shielded my eyes and soldiered on.


racheld said...


I'm so honored and humbled by your sweet words; the thoughts come, and seem to just tumble out before I can hold them in. And the times are still so vivid---the fifties were sorta THE time to be a teenager (says one who had that privilege), for we had the innocent young minds and hearts, and still had a stern hand and guidance from our parents. And so much less of the things of the world bombarding us from all sides.

Thank you for your visit, and for joining us here.


Kim S. said...

My dear friend, you leave me speechless. How wonderful to have LT to savor.