When I was growing up, my family was transplanted from the level, rich soil of Indiana to the red clay hills of Tennessee. With high hopes we set our sights on southern climes while promising to keep in touch with friends and relatives whose only notion of life in the South came from watching “Hee Haw” on tv.
“They’ll be back before the snow flies,” they murmured to each other, nodding sagely.
They doubted that such pure Mid-westerners as my father, Earl, who had played the cornet in a German band, and my mother, Rose Marie, who had even played her accordion on the radio one time, could ever feel quite at home in the land of cotton, moonshine, and hillbilly high jinks. Not to mention that time change business. Where we were from nothing was more controversial than Daylight Savings Time.
But I never heard my parents express a single qualm about the move, even on the long drive to Knoxville. Although, it’s true they didn’t discuss much on car trips anyway since a stint as an artillery instructor had left my dad slightly hard of hearing in one ear. Light conversation takes on new meaning when it must be repeated frequently and loudly.
But if they did harbor any worries, they need not have, for not only were they well-equipped with positive attitudes, square dancing skills, and tips from Dale Carnegie… they played bridge. I don’t know how to play bridge yet, but it’s on my to-do list, right after acquiring a second language and learning how to knit.
We had scarcely hung up our hats, much less our Black Forest cuckoo clock, before Mom was invited to her first afternoon bridge party. And, except for that one unfortunate reaction to a shrimp salad, she had a fun summer getting to know the other ladies in the neighborhood.
Soon came the advent of evening bridge parties with husbands included. When it was our turn to host, Mom would rummage in the cabinets for two large Pyrex pans to make Cherry Delight, a delicious, chilled dessert with a graham cracker crust and luscious layers of sweetened cream cheese and cherry pie filling. My brother and I (and little sister when she got old enough) would help serve it to the guests on pretty, etched-glass plates and then help ourselves to some, too, before toddling off to bed with visions of Cherry Delight for breakfast dancing in our heads.
Now, like many people, I find myself living in a town where I scarcely know my neighbors. And it’s been quite a while since I’ve been invited anywhere without being expected to support a worthy cause, load up on frightfully expensive (though exquisitely women) baskets, or invest in spray vitamins. I believe it’s time to re-evaluate my priorities, put off the knitting and French lessons, and rustle up a bridge group of my own. But first I need some new Pyrex pans.
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