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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lauren Owen: IMG The Other Vampire



It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »

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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (Large Print)

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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (Large Print) Cover

 

 

Excerpt

THE WEEMS WEEKLY

(WHISTLE STOP, ALABAMA'S WEEKLY BULLETIN)

June 12, 1929

Cafe Opens

The Whistle Stop Cafe opened up last week, right next

door to me at the post office, and owners Idgie

Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison said business has been

good ever since. Idgie says that for people who know

her not to worry about getting poisoned, she is not

cooking. All the cooking is being done by two colored

women, Sipsey and Onzell, and the barbecue is being

cooked by Big George, who is Onzell's husband.

If there is anybody that has not been there yet, Idgie

says that the breakfast hours are from 5:30-7:30, and you

can get eggs, grits, biscuits, bacon, sausage, ham and

red-eye gravy, and coffee for 25 [cts.].

For lunch and supper you can have: fried chicken;

pork chops and gravy; catfish; chicken and dumplings;

or a barbecue plate; and your choice of three

vegetables, biscuits or cornbread, and your drink and

dessert--for 35 [cts.].

She said the vegetables are: creamed corn; fried green

tomatoes; fried okra; collard or turnip greens; black-eyed

peas; candied yams; butter beans or lima beans.

And pie for dessert.

My other half, Wilbur, and I ate there the other night,

and it was so good he says he might not ever eat at home

again. Ha. Ha. I wish this were true. I spend all my time

cooking for the big lug, and still can't keep him filled

up.

By the way, Idgie says that one of her hens laid an egg

with a ten-dollar bill in it.

... Dot Weems ...

ROSE TERRACE NURSING HOME

OLD MONTGOMERY HIGHWAY

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

DECEMBER 15, 1985

Evelyn Couch had come to Rose Terrace with her husband, Ed,

who was visiting his mother, Big Momma, a recent but reluctant

arrival. Evelyn had just escaped them both and had gone into the

visitors' lounge in the back, where she could enjoy her candy bar in

peace and quiet. But the moment she sat down, the old woman

beside her began to talk ...

"Now, you ask me the year somebody got married ... who they

married ... or what the bride's mother wore, and nine times out of ten

I can tell you, but for the life of me, I cain't tell you when it was I

got to be so old. It just sorta slipped up on me. The first time I

noticed it was June of this year, when I was in the hospital for my

gallbladder, which they still have, or maybe they threw it out by

now ... who knows. That heavyset nurse had just given me another

one of those Fleet enemas they're so fond of over there when I

noticed what they had on my arm. It was a white band that said:

Mrs. Cleo Threadgoode ... an eighty-six-year-old woman.

Imagine that!

"When I got back home, I told my friend Mrs. Otis, I guess the

only thing left for us to do is to sit around and get ready to croak....

She said she preferred the term pass over to the

other side. Poor thing, I didn't have the heart to tell her that no

matter what you call it, we're all gonna croak, just the same ...

"It's funny, when you're a child you think time will never go by,

but when you hit about twenty, time passes like you're on the fast

train to Memphis. I guess life just slips up on everybody. It sure

did on me. One day I was a little girl and the next I was a grown

woman, with bosoms and hair on my private parts. I missed the

whole thing. But then, I never was too smart in school or otherwise ...

"Mrs. Otis and I are from Whistle Stop, a little town about ten

miles from here, out by the railroad yards.... She's lived down the

street from me for the past thirty years or so, and after her husband

died, her son and daughter-in-law had a fit for her to come and live

at the nursing home, and they asked me to come with her. I told

them I'd stay with her for a while--she doesn't know it yet, but I'm

going back home just as soon as she gets settled in good.

"It's not too bad out here. The other day, we all got Christmas

corsages to wear on our coats. Mine had little shiny red Christmas

balls on it, and Mrs. Otis had a Santy Claus face on hers. But I was

sad to give up my kitty, though.

"They won't let you have one here, and I miss her. I've always

had a kitty or two, my whole life. I gave her to that little girl next

door, the one who's been watering my geraniums. I've got me four

cement pots on the front porch, just full of geraniums.

"My friend Mrs. Otis is only seventy-eight and real sweet, but

she's a nervous kind of person. I had my gallstones in a Mason jar

by my bed, and she made me hide them. Said they made her

depressed. Mrs. Otis is just a little bit of somethin', but as you can

see, I'm a big woman. Big bones and all.

"But I never drove a car ... I've been stranded most all my life.

Always stayed close to home. Always had to wait for somebody to

come and carry me to the store or to the doctor or down to the

church. Years ago, you used to be able to take a trolley to

Birmingham, but they stopped running a long time

ago. The only thing I'd do different if I could go back would be to

get myself a driver's license.

"You know, it's funny what you'll miss when you're away from

home. Now me, I miss the smell of coffee ... and bacon frying in the

morning. You cain't smell anything they've got cooking out here,

and you cain't get a thing that's fried. Everything here is boiled up,

with not a piece of salt on it! I wouldn't give you a plugged nickel

for anything boiled, would you?"

The old lady didn't wait for an answer ".... I used to love

my crackers and buttermilk, or my buttermilk and cornbread,

in the afternoon. I like to smash it all up in my glass and eat

it with a spoon, but you cain't eat in public like you can at home

... can you? ... And I miss wood.

"My house is nothing but just a little old railroad shack of a

house, with a living room, bedroom, and a kitchen. But it's wood,

with pine walls inside. Just what I like. I don't like a plaster wall.

They seem ... oh, I don't know, kinda cold and stark-like.

"I brought a picture with me that I had at home, of a girl in a

swing with a castle and pretty blue bubbles in the background, to

hang in my room, but that nurse here said the girl was naked from

the waist up and not appropriate. You know, I've had that picture

for fifty years and I never knew she was naked. If you ask me, I

don't think the old men they've got here can see well enough to

notice that she's bare-breasted. But, this is a Methodist home, so

she's in the closet with my gallstones.

"I'll be glad to get home.... Of course, my house is a mess. I

haven't been able to sweep for a while. I went out and threw my

broom at some old, noisy bluejays that were fighting and, wouldn't

you know it, my broom stuck up there in the tree. I've got to get

someone to get it down for me when I get back.

"Anyway, the other night, when Mrs. Otis's son took us home

from the Christmas tea they had at the church, he drove us over the

railroad tracks, out by where the cafe used to be, and on up First

Street, right past the old Threadgoode place. Of course, most of the

house is all boarded up and falling down now, but when we came

down the street, the headlights hit the

windows in such a way that, just for a minute, that house looked to

me just like it had so many of those nights, some seventy years

ago, all lit up and full of fun and noise. I could hear people

laughing, and Essie Rue pounding away at the piano in the parlor;

`Buffalo Gal, Won't You Come Out Tonight' or `The Big Rock Candy

Mountain,' and I could almost see Idgie Threadgoode sitting in the

chinaberry tree, howling like a dog every time Essie Rue tried to

sing. She always said that Essie Rue could sing about as well as a

cow could dance. I guess, driving by that house and me being so

homesick made me go back in my mind ...

"I remember it just like it was yesterday, but then I don't think

there's anything about the Threadgoode family I don't remember.

Good Lord, I should, I've lived right next door to them from the day

I was born, and I married one of the boys.

"There were nine children, and three of the girls, Essie Rue and

the twins, were more or less my own age, so I was always over

there playing and having spend-the-night parties. My own mother

died of consumption when I was four, and when my daddy died, up

in Nashville, I just stayed on for good. I guess you might say the

spend-the-night party never ended..."

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679744955
Author:
Flagg, Fannie
Publisher:
Random House Large Print Publishing
Location:
New York :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Friendship
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Large type books
Subject:
Alabama
Subject:
Female friendship -- Alabama -- Fiction.
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Large print ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Large Print:
Yes
Series Volume:
v. 8
Publication Date:
19930331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
528
Dimensions:
9.22x6.12x1.06 in. 1.48 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

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