I can remember a time in my life when eating-out was a rare treat. Let’s see, that would have been back around most of 2020, so far. Miss Corona has brought about quite a few changes in our lives. One of those changes has been not eating out. Jean is a wonderful cook, so we have enjoyed eating at home, even before the coronavirus lockdown, but we have also missed getting to eat out.

I can remember another time, long ago, when getting to eat out was a rare treat. When I was a boy, I thought eating out meant a picnic out in the yard. Seriously, about the only times we ate out in a restaurant back then was when we traveled. Since we hardly ever traveled...we hardly ever ate out. Now that I think about, even when we did travel, Mama usually packed stuff for us to eat on the road. Well, not literally on the road, but by the side of the road. We ate at those roadside picnic areas with the concrete tables. You could get hurt on those things. Playing chase too close to those edges could cause the loss of a limb. The limb might be an arm, or a hickory, or both! Mama usually brought a vinyl table cloth to “cover that nasty table where everybody else has eaten.” You might think Mama feared the coronavirus way back then. The covering also served to protect rambunctious kids from injury.

When we were home, Mama cooked. Occasionally, Daddy cooked. He was a good cook. In my earlier years, actually until after Daddy passed away, Mama did not work outside the home. She cooked two-meals each day. That included breakfast, which I usually did not eat. She rolled out biscuit dough and cut it out with a tin cup. She cooked eggs, bacon or ham, and grits or gravy. What on earth was I thinking by not eating that? That was back before it would kill you. Soon after breakfast, she cooked what she called “dinner.” That was the mid-day meal that city-folks called lunch. We called the three meals breakfast, dinner, and supper. Mama did not usually cook supper. She cooked a big mid-day meal which usually included a meat and several homegrown vegetables, leftover breakfast biscuits, and fresh cornbread. That may sound like a lot of food for a small family, but she never knew exactly how many, or who, she would be feeding. That’s because Dad ran a business, and he closed down for an hour at dinner. Whoever happened to be there at lunch got a free, home-cooked, hot meal. Dad said, “Y’all come on. Let’s go eat.” For some reason, business was always good right before lunch. Jean would kill me! For supper, Mama gave us a choice. We could eat leftovers from lunch or we could go hungry. Sometimes, I ate a banana sandwich for supper and dad had a glass of fresh milk with leftover cornbread crumbled up in it and an onion.

Since Jean and I have been homebound, we have done what Mama did. Jean cooks a big lunch and we eat leftovers or a banana sandwich at supper. I still don’t do cornbread and milk. With the loosening of restrictions, Jean and I have been out a few times. For our anniversary, we ate “high on the hog.” We slipped over to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and ate at The Shed. That’s some of the South’s best barbecue. It’s called The Shed because it’s in one...literally, and not because you’ll shed a few pounds. We may have gotten out of the house, but we aren’t out of the woods yet. Let’s keep on - keep praying, keep being careful, keep covering, and keep your distance.

—Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.

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