Hell of a Guy
No legacy is so rich as honesty - William Shakespeare

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I Never Saw My Dad Eat Tomatoes…


This morning I was awakened at 4:10 with a nature call.  As I laid back in the bed, half asleep and half awake, the title of this piece popped into my head – “I never saw my dad eat tomatoes.’  Well, as luck would have it, or rather not have it, my mind continued to ruminate about my dad’s gastronomic peculiarities, and there were many.

To repeat myself, for sure, I never saw my dad eat tomatoes.  Why this popped up in my ever decreasing cerebral awareness, I have not a clue, but it did.  My dad ate some weird shit (forgive me, Dad, I had to say it).  Allow me outline for you some of the weirdness that was Russell Anstine White.

My dad loved cantaloupe, especially freshly picked cantaloupe from my Great Uncle Ellis’s garden.  Uncle Ellis lived in Marshallberg, North Carolina, where, as our great fortune would have it, we vacationed almost every summer for a couple of glorious weeks.  This seaside town (population about 100) had soil perfect for growing melons, big melons.  We would occasionally raid it, with my uncle’s blessing, of course, for a cantaloupe.  Dad would clean the cantaloupe and eat some.  It never seemed to fail, but within an hour or so after ingesting the melon, Dad would throw up.  He did it time after time.  I suppose his love of cantaloupe outweighed his disgust of getting sick because of it.  Weird, but that was my dad.

Peanuts – my Dad loved roasted peanuts.  He loved to pop a handful in his mouth and chew away.  And chew away he did…for what seemed to be an eternity.  He apparently had difficulty swallowing them and would chew for them minutes, much longer than it took any other human to chew up some nuts and swallow them.  Dad got more than his money’s worth out of a few peanuts.  Weird, but that was my dad.

My dad didn’t drink or smoke.  He didn’t cuss, either, though I thought I heard him say “hell” once.  He did, however, eat some strange stuff.  How does this one grab you?  Dad would allow milk to curdle (i.e. sour) to a state where it solidified and hardened.  He would sprinkle sugar over it and eat away.  He said it was good, and I took his word for it.  Weird, but that was my dad.

If the milk thing wasn’t bad enough, this one is.  Mother would sometime prepare lima beans with a hunk of fatty ham.  Mother never threw any leftover food away.  If we did not eat it, it went in the fridge.  Lima beans leftover… into the fridge they went.  One morning I saw my dad take a bowl of leftover lima beans out of the fridge.  The liquid the beans were in had congealed into an off-white disgusting looking mess.  It did not matter to old Dad. He got a spoon from a drawer and “yummed” his way through the cold beans until they were gone.  Weird, but that was my dad.

Dad didn’t care for spaghetti.  Both he and mother could not get into it as a meal.  They thought it okay as a side dish, but a main course, no way.  They did not ever eat pizza to my knowledge, but their idea of a really great meal was an order of French fries, a Fish Filet and a cup of coffee at McDonald’s.  Weird, but that was my dad (and mom). 

I suppose one day, hopefully way in the future, one of my children or grandchildren will write a piece for their blog describing all the weird crap I ate or did, though, quite frankly, I do not have an inkling as to what might be found that I did that could possibly be classified as weird.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Monday, June 16, 2014



She usually was seated on a sofa on the far side of the room, well removed from the TV and her husband of 65 years, but near her radio, her police scanner and her stuff.  Close by was her well used calendar filled with notes on birthdays, meetings and important, meaningful dates.  This woman could be contentious, condescending, moody and sometimes downright mean-spirited.  She was also very sweet.

She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother, an aunt, a sister, a sister-in-law and a friend.  She was called “Mom” by some, “Maw Maw” by others and “Kate” by many.  She was strong willed but wilted by health issues that she fought as hard as she could.  She was generous to a fault even to the very end of her life.  She was totally devoted to her husband and her children…though not demonstrative, except in her own way. 

She and I had a special bond that sprouted and grew almost from the time I first met her in 1993.  I chided her and teased her sometimes.  She would hand it back almost as fast as she processed the words.  She was quick.

She had a smile that could light up a room.  She also had a look that could kill, and used it.  She had a quiet laugh that sometimes leaked out when she heard an off color joke, never letting on how much she enjoyed the story.

She endured the ravages of a stroke on May 28, 2013, and slowly gave into it at 10:04am just one year ago today.

I loved that woman.  She was nothing but sweet to me.  She was the closest thing I had to a mother since my own passed away in 1997.  She was my mother-in-law and I miss her.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Sunday, June 08, 2014



“Do you remember when it only cost a penny?” 

I overheard that question at the grocery store in a conversation between two adults as a small child, glaring a bank of candy dispensers, begged his mother for a gumball that cost a quarter.  It made me think, and you all know how dangerous that can be.  The question I overheard sparked a host of memories and a quick nostalgia trip.

Yes, I remember.  I remember penny candy.  There was a little store just down the street from the school I attended that offered a variety of penny candies to a wide-eyed clientele of elementary school children.  The store displayed a bunch of appealing, silly stuff like bright red lips made of a sweetened wax, and little bottles made of wax containing a sweet liquid – only God knows what it may have been – that you bit off the top and drank the concoction inside.  There were little Tootsie Rolls, jaw breakers, bubble gum and a host of wrapped confections that would have driven Michelle Obama up a tree with rage.  We loved it.

Not far from where my family lived a house was being built.  It was a “Cape Cod” styled home, and my mother loved to drive by it on Sundays after church.  She called it her dream home.  This was about 1955 and as I recall the house was $15,000.  It was nice, but it was way outside the family budget, so we stayed where we were.  My folks finally sold the house we grew up in in 1995 having lived there for fifty-two years.  They paid $4000 for it in 1943.

In 1963 I bought my first car, a 1957 Volkswagen for the exorbitant price of $600.  The VW had a ten-gallon gas tank, and it could be completely filled for under $3.00.  My girlfriend and I could go to a movie, have snacks and stop by a restaurant on our way home for some victuals all for less than $10.00.

On York Road in Baltimore there was a men’s clothing store.  “Eddie Leonard’s” sold “Joe College” clothing, the preppy fashion of the day, especially ties.  Students in my high school back in the late 50’s and early 60’s wore dress shirts and ties practically every day.  The really cool guys all had Eddie Leonard ties.  In the summer of 1960 I worked as an usher at the Senator Theater about a half block away from that store.  My first week there I worked for forty hours and made a grand total of $16.00.  When I got my week’s pay I made a beeline to Eddie Leonard’s and bought a regimental stripped tie for $2.98.  I was too cool in high school once I had my Eddie Leonard tie, though I looked a little weird wearing it every day the first week I had it.

Yes, I remember when gumballs cost a penny.  I also vivid remember accepting an offer to work for the Equitable Trust Company after high school graduation for the brain numbing salary of $40.00 a week.  I worked for the bank for 18 months in sort of a “pre-management” training program, provided I go to night school.  The mere thought of going back to school freaked me out, so I enlisted in the Air Force in September of 1963 where I was paid the grand sum of $30.10 a month.  In the good old days I bought my first house for $24,500 and paid $193.00 a month as a house payment when I was making just $9,000 a year.  Gasoline that year was $29.9 per gallon.  I traveled with my job and often stayed in less-than-classy hotels for under $30.00 a night, some as little as $18.00.  Oh, those were the days!

Not being one to live in the past, I love to occasionally visit it.  I remember when gumballs cost a penny.  I also remember when I didn’t have enough money to buy one, and have little interest in going back to “The Good Old Days.”

Today is The Best Day Ever! 

And that is all I have to say about that…