By: Annette Smith Bisbee
It was 1952. All was well with the world. It was summer time, and we’d been out of school two months. Finding stuff to do to occupy our minds was becoming quite the challenge. My two sisters, Naomi and Sue, and I played outside – how we ever got chores done for this leisure, I don’t know. I was only 7 at the time, and concerning myself with such high and lofty matters, hadn’t yet taxed my brain. It was almost August and in southern Missouri, that meant high humidity and high temperatures. Bored and sweating, we ran to the house; maybe mom would have the fan on.
Mom stood in the kitchen, her hair in a bun, covered by a headscarf. Sure enough, the black metal fan vibrated as it slowly oscillated back and forth, back and forth, cooling mom’s sweaty brow. She gathered up the corner of her muslin apron and wiped her hands, then her face.
She had just finished making two pans of yeast rolls, covering them with a thin cloth. I smelled the yeast, mixed with the ham-flavored Pinto Beans, permeating the air; my tummy ached as I inhaled the sweet fragrance. I was immediately lost in the daydream of tearing apart one of those light, fluffy rolls, taking the center and dipping it into the thick, brown bean sauce. Then I’d reach for some fried potatoes, along with a fresh sliced onion….
Whining and complaining interrupted my dream. “Mom, we got nothin’ to do. It’s so hot outside, we can’t breathe.” Now I don’t remember who said it, but that was a rude interruption.
My mom was quite creative and fun, and could always find something entertaining for us to do. She wasn’t about to allow us to whine around in the house. She reached high in the cupboard, bringing out a metal pie pan, “Here,” she offered it. She then opened the wooden icebox, bringing out an egg, and handed it to us.
“Take this pan outside and put it on the sidewalk. Break the egg and put in it, and watch it cook.”
Our mood quickly shifted. We were excited as we headed back out the front door. Was it even possible? Would it really cook?
I skipped in anticipation. We all stood ‘round watching the unfolding of this new adventure. This was the strangest thing I had ever seen, and I couldn’t wait.
We stared and stared as we hovered over that pan. Nothing was happening, so someone suggested we skate, (you see, Sue and Naomi always told me what to do, and I did it, or I couldn’t hang around with them…you didn’t think we were that perfect, did you?), so I ran to the house to retrieve the precious possessions. How on earth our parents could buy such a frivolous thing as skates is a mystery in itself. Oh how we loved to lock them onto our shoes, and skate the sidewalk.
We all took turns, and it was finally my turn again to skate. As I came upon the pie pan, I groaned with impatience. “Aw, this ain’t gonna happen…the egg looks just like it did,” Once again I had to interrupt my skating pattern to check on the egg. But wait…I caught a glimpse… just a glimpse, of a tiny white line running along the edge of the egg.
“Come quick! I think it’s cooking!” I squealed, as we all lingered ‘round, staring at our unique project. We occupied ourselves for several minutes as the clear whites of the egg began to slowly turn a milky white.
I don’t remember how long it actually took to cook that egg, but I do remember our refusal to eat it. There was just something ‘not right’ about eating an egg cooked on the sidewalk – even if it was in a pie pan. It sure proved how miserably hot it was outside. The pie pan was removed from the sidewalk, so our sidewalk route was uninterrupted.
“My turn!” yelled Sue, and I begrudgingly took the key and loosened the skates to oblige. Sue quickly skated the entire sidewalk, one foot in front of the other, arms flinging side to side in complete balance, as her long hair swayed behind in perfect and constant rhythm. Ah, the memories.
Sue turned out to be a good sister. She’s still got that perfect balance. If you need her, she is there. She’s always looking for the good in people, and her friends call her blessed. And I…I don’t even have to do what she says anymore to get to hang around with her.
Naomi grew up to be the most talented…she played the accordion, the piano, the organ, AND she preached the gospel. She loved people and served the Lord with all her heart. She now lives with Jesus and we miss her.