By Sam Burnham
I know that I'm losing valuable resources every day. It's not oil or fresh water or even the conditioned air that slips out though my exterior doors. It's something much different than that. Middle age has brought me to the realization that this resource is fleeting.
I am reminded of a wedding shower my wife's grandmother threw for her. I spent that afternoon on her grandfather's porch. He and several of his life-long friends were there and we talked. They told stories of growing up in the neighborhood in Atlanta along 10th St near Hemphill. They talked about getting treats from the old drug store that sat at that intersection. They talked about playing pick up football with Lester Maddox. They gave me advice on life and marriage. But mostly we just chatted. It was one of the most memorable days of my life.
And now I'm the only man left from that porch sitting who is still around to talk about it. Every other man sitting on that porch that day has passed on. So has Grandpa, who taught me far more than he knew. I've stood graveside for so many coworkers, mentors, personal influences, friends.
The resource I'm losing...really, the resource we are losing,,,is old men.
This isn't a requiem for anyone in particular. It's really just a recent observation that as I grow closer to the day I'll be generally thought of as an old man, I find myself with fewer and fewer old men to learn from or ask for advice. There is just something in that wealth of life experience that can really make a difference in your life - and you can't get similar results from any number of Google searches. Have you ever met a Google search that can claim to have dated the sister of one of Georgia's most controversial governors? Ever met a Google search that has been doing the very thing you're asking about longer than you've been alive?
I remember when I was a young boy and my Uncle Sam (my great uncle, for whom I am named) tell us stories about the Civil War. These were stories his grandfather had told him about his own experience in that war. Google that.
These are the kind of experiences and stories that have shaped the relationship between Uriah Colquitt Meigs and his grandfather, Elijah in my fictional writing. They have made me the husband and father that I am. And it has helped me appreciate those older men who are still around me, even if it doesn't always seem that way. And it has made me thankful to have had the time with those who have passed on. It's also left me wondering if I am going to be nearly as equipped as they were to pass anything on to the younger men around me.
Let's talk Memorial Day.
There's a bit of a misconception about this holiday. It's not about those who are serving in our military right now. It's not about those who have served and moved back into civilian lives. Veterans Day is in November. That is the holiday for those who served.
Memorial Day has a sadder meaning. No one who is an intended honoree on this day will be with us to appreciate it. The people Memorial Day is intended for have already given their lives so that you and I can enjoy this three day weekend.
The true honorees of Memorial Day were lost at Verdun, on the beaches of Normandy, at Monte Cassino, on Guadacanal, at the Chosin Reservoir, at Khe Sanh, in the streets of Mogadishu, Mosul, Kandahar...
The people we honor this weekend gave everything they had. They gave that sacrifice for us - for our country, our culture, our way of life. They died for historic downtowns, for backyard barbecues, for rock and roll music, for church on Sunday, for road trips, for high school football, for art museums, for first kisses under a pecan tree. They died for America and all that it stands for.
So, with that in mind, how should we remember them?
I think the best way to remember their sacrifice is to appreciate all they provided for us. We must honor and remember their sacrifice. We must never forget what they gave us or that the gift must be vigilantly protected.
And then we need to enjoy. We need to relax and enjoy the weekend. We need to do the things that those sacrifices enabled us to do. I think that is exactly what they would have us do.
By all means, enjoy the barbecue and the pool but never forget why you have that liberty or who paid for it. Honor them.
Wishing you a safe and happy Memorial Day from All the Biscuits in Georgia.
Having shared my response to Garden & Gun's NYC myth busting attempt, it is appropriate to bring an example of proper Southern cooking to the forefront. This article appeared on our old site three years ago this month and proved to be one of the most popular articles there. Feel free to enjoy some culinary heritage shared by our managing editor.
By Leigha Burnham
On a recent trip to my mother's house, I was sharing a meal with my mom and my niece. Mother and I were trying to tell my niece about our Grandmother Edna and her skill as a Southern cook. As we talked about fried chicken and mayonnaise rolls, the memories came flooding back.
For those who don't know, we Southerners associate memory with the foods we eat and vice versa. Edna's cooking was a special treat I enjoyed once a week as we visited her and her aging father. Edna was not my biological great-grandmother but had married and been widowed by my great-grandfather Petty years before. I actually never knew him personally, but he came to life for me through stories my mother and Edna shared over our weekly meals.
Communion is not just for church, you know. It is an act very much a part of our Southern experience. So, I want to break bread with all of you - in a virtual-sort-of-way, by sharing a few of the recipes Edna passed on to me in my first recipe box. Each card was typed on a manual typewriter with the same hands that patted the tender dough that made some of the best biscuits in Georgia, not to mention the best fried chicken.
2 c. self-rising flour
4 tsp. mayonnaise
1 cup sweet milk (Sam note: "sweet milk" means "not buttermilk")
1 tsp. sugar
Mix all ingredients in a bowl for about 2 minutes. Pour into 12 cup muffin pan. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes or until brown.
June's Banana Pudding:
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 can condensed milk
3 egg yolks/whites seperated
1 tsp. vanilla
Let cook on low heat until slightly thickened. Pour over vanilla wafers and sliced bananas. Top with egg whites that have been beaten to stiff peaks and brown in a 400 oven. Cool and then refrigerate.
Edna & Malcolm's Buttermilk Chicken - Southern Fried
Skinned chicken - fryer size/clean and dry
2 c. buttermilk
Roll and dip in buttermilk and flour alternately for at least three turns.
Drop into DEEP oil that is hot. Fry until coating is cooked and brown. Inside of ck will not yet be done.
Place on baking sheet in preheated 200 oven for approximately 1 hour.
"Best stuff you've ever had!"
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire