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CITIZEN COLUMN: A toasty story

CITIZEN COLUMN: A toasty story

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So, I find myself in the middle of January or February and the sun has not graced us with its presence for weeks, it’s cold outside and the rain has not stopped for at least a month.

I am retired and I have been retired just long enough that the friends and coworkers that promised to stay in touch have slowed with their calls. To top it all off, we are in the middle of a pandemic.

There is little one can do except binge watch TV, eat and reflect on how it used to be. Of those three activities, eating is the primary focus for turning a frown upside down at my house.

As I often do, I bounce ideas back and forth with my spouse for the topic of my next column. He had no difficulty seizing upon an opportunity that would get him out of watching another rerun of Andy, Barney and Aunt Bea on TV.

“Let me fix us a slice of toast with some strawberry jam and we can talk about that,” he said.

The subject of “toast” evolved from there.

Neither of us could remember our families having a toaster in our early years. What we did remember was white bread toast only being toasted on one side. We made toast in the oven and no one thought of flipping it.

He remembered his mom buttering the toast when it came out of the oven. They had a cow and made their own butter. I remember my mom putting a big dab of margarine in the middle of the bread before it went in the oven.

The margarine soaked through the bread and made a mess on the pan. I remember trying to hide the pan in the oven so I would not have to wash it. He remembers his mom lined the pan with foil, so they didn’t have to wash it. I’m not sure why we didn’t do that. The logic probably was that there were two daughters in our family old enough to wash the pan.

My dad liked Orange Marmalade on his toast. His dad ate whatever was placed on the table. He remembered lots of grape and strawberry being the jam or jelly of choice. Strawberry jam is my favorite. Michael is like his dad. His favorite is whatever is on the table.

We did not cut or slice the toast as I remember. We lathered up the toast on the toasted side with jam, holding the whole slice by the crust and tried to eat it before the jam broke thru the margarine soft spot in the middle.

My sister, Donnette, didn’t like the crust and pinched off the edges while she ate. While Net disliked the crust, I fought for the heel slice. That was like having a whole slice of crust.

He on the other hand says his mom cut the slices in half before applying the jam or jelly. They just sliced it right down the middle. He couldn’t remember a reason why. That’s just the way they did it.

At a restaurant they like to cut the toast from corner to corner. Often the toast at a restaurant is toasted on one side only. They toast it on the grill and put a big dab of butter in the middle. The soft spot in the middle always reminds me of home and of the wonderful childhood that I had.

My favorite memory about toast involved a bread truck with a loaf of bread and a slice of toast painted on the back door. I was working on my doctorate and had a class at Nova Southeastern University south of St Petersburg, Florida. It was one of many trips I made where I attended classes all day and drove half the night back to Florence so I could maintain my teaching job and pursue my degree at the same time.

It was the middle of the night when we fell in behind the big truck with the giant picture of some toast on a plate. We followed that truck for at least a hundred miles. Somehow, I felt safe being behind that truck guiding my way thru the night. It was the picture of the toast. It just made me feel good.

It’s strange how a bad circumstance like quarantining in a pandemic on a cold rainy day with your spouse can help you learn new things about the one you share your life with.

Many things have changed. Today I have a toaster that toasts two slices of bread on both sides at the same time. Our favorite bread is honey wheat, and we use butter that is half olive oil. There is always some kind of jam in our refrigerator.

After all these years, we still have many things in common, and one of them is toast. We just toast it our way.

Dr. Darlene Atkinson-Moran grew up in Olanta. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She is retired from the education profession and now resides in Florence with her husband, Michael. Contact her at citizencolumnist@florencenews.com.

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