Every summer the wife and I trot off to a family reunion, usually held somewhere in the Deep South. Attendees are relatives on my mother's side, though the closest kin to me are descendants of some of my great-great-grandfather's brothers. So mainly, the people are just long-time friends we've made over the last 33 years, who all just happen to descend from the same German immigrant born in 1758. Before we left, my wife asked, "isn't this thing ever going to die-out?" We always enjoy it--once we get there.
We always drive around the courthouse squares of these little towns, where my wife is on the look-out for old-time hardware stores. We hit three of them along the way, picking up a homemade step-ladder in one. We also stumbled upon this, housed in an old store-front, two blocks off the courthouse square in Greensboro. Any business with the word "pie" in the advertisement is going to get my attention. As it turns out, the enterprise is owned and run by young people, with oversight and support from UA. And yes, the pie was delicious. On the return trip, we found "Bates' House of Turkey," where you can either have turkey and dressing, or a turkey sandwich. I appreciate a place that does one thing, but does it very well.
The reunions are usually an interesting and convivial mix of old-money Mobile azalea-district meets red-clay Georgia back roads double-wides. There's always a memorable line or story we bring back home. Saturday afternoon, we were wandering around a thrift store in downtown Eufaula and bumped into a Georgia couple we've known for many years. The talk turned to my wife's bout with poison ivy after cleaning out around the house in early summer. The woman suffered from it as well, and told the story of her mother taking her down a back country lane as a child. Their destination was a "conjurer," a local woman who "conjured" her poison ivy away. My wife just looked at her, and finally asked, "if she is alive?" My cousin Selma is always good for a quote. She is in her mid-50s, unmarried, and lives in her mother's gracious home on a shady, old-money Mobile street. That description, while accurate, paints the exact wrong impression, however. She is also an outspoken, firebrand Democratic Party activist and attorney who gravitates towards representing those from the wrong side of the tracks--in other words, an old-school Southern liberal in the very best sense of the word. A graduate of the University of Alabama, she was shocked to hear that one of her nieces was contemplating Auburn. "Auburn?? I'd rather hear that she'd become a Republican than go to Auburn!"