Jigsaw Puzzles, Friendships, and Memories

Despite a few concerns about the Delta variant of the novel virus that has plagued us for a year and a half now, I went to Winnsboro, the small town where I previously lived, to meet with my co-author on the history books, as well as a few visits with friends. One of them, who I call my puzzle-buddy, opened her home to me and my daughter, Dany for the duration of the stay in town, and when we weren’t galivanting we worked this fun puzzle, completing it the morning we left to come home.

The scene in this puzzle took me back to my teen years in several ways. The car on the extreme right could have been my car. I can’t tell in the image if it’s a 1957 or 58 Chevy, but it’s one of those I think. Anyone who knows please feel free to clarify in the comments. When I was in my late teens, I had a 1956 Chevy that was a hot little car, and I used to drag race down the main street of the city where I lived. The only car that could beat me was the Pontiac that my husband used to have. That included the patrol car the officer, who later became the chief of police in Centerline, drove. When off-duty he would sometimes be found on Van Dyke Avenue in the wee hours, joining a few other drivers in the challenge to see who had the fastest car.

On the left in that painting American Drive In by Steve Crisp is a car-hop on roller skates. That could have been me posing for a picture. I worked at a drive in like this, although not as fancy, and I don’t think I looked anything like that cute young thing bringing food to the couple in the red car. Still, I looked good enough that the man, who became my husband some years later, noticed me when I brought drinks to him and some of his buddies.

I have lots of great memories of Ronnie’s Drive In, which later became Phil’s Drive In, when Ronnie sold out. He knew that a McDonald’s was going to open only a few blocks away, and he was concerned about the competition. He said he was too old to go head-to-head with the big guys.

In my mind, I thought the footlong hotdogs Ronnie’s offered, as well as the specialty burgers, were better than anything that could come through mass-production. The chili that topped some of the hotdogs was from a home-made recipe that Ruby Bee, our cook, made fresh every day, and it was amazing. She had one recipe for the chili used on the hotdogs, with a similar one, but slightly milder, for the chili served in bowls.

Other dogs were split lengthwise, stuffed with cheese, and wrapped in bacon, then deep-fried. My mouth waters just thinking about those. Until I realized that hot dogs are not a good choice when it comes to lunch fare, I used to attempt to make those cheese-stuffed treats for me and Carl, but they never turned out as good as those of our past. It would’ve helped if I’d had a deep fryer.

I haven’t had a hotdog in some time, but when I decide to walk on the not-so-healthy food path, I’m tempted to stuff a hotdog with cheese, wrap it in bacon, and take it to a local fast-food place and ask if they’d drop it in their deep fryer for a minute. That’s about all it would take to crisp the meat and melt the cheese just enough to ooze a bit. Am I tempting you, too?

For more about puzzles by Steve Crisp, here’s a link to his site on Wentworth Puzzles.

“There is so much to be grateful for, words are poor things.” Marilynne Robinson

It’s not clear exactly what Ms. Robinson means by this quote that I found at the Inspiring Quotes site, but my guess is that she’s expressing what is behind a response like, “I have no words.” or “There are no words.” Both are things that some people may say when hearing bad news from a friend or family member. I’ve even said it on occasion. There are times when the words we have to use to express a thought or emotion are simply not up to the task – the emotion is just to great to be confined to letters. I’ve said that many times, which always seems a little odd considering I’m a writer and words should always be there for me.

For some time now, I’ve enjoyed blog posts from Kathleen Kaska, a terrific writer of mysteries and more. She has a series of essays on her blog, Growing Up Catholic in a Small Town, and since I did grow up Catholic, the title caught my interest. Here’s a link to her latest offering, Me and Mr. Karlick, in which she shares a story about her first beer-run on a bicycle.

You can find previous posts to enjoy as well, and they are all well worth the read. The style of the writing reminds me of other humorous books written about small towns or being Roman Catholic. Under the humor is the humanity of the people in the stories, and there is always someone to whom we can relate. Whether you’re Catholic or not, I think you’d enjoy her posts since they are more about small-town living than they are about the religion.

You’ll also enjoy her books.

That’s all from me for today. I do hope your week starts off on a positive note. Whatever you have on your agenda, be happy and be safe.

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