It was never relaxing, but we always had fun, especially when the kids in their costumes sang “Happy Birthday.” I remember years that we tag-teamed answering the door for trick-or-treaters as we tried to eat a birthday dinner.
Here’s a recap of some of the earlier posts on my dad’s life.
- My dad told me that my grandfather had a falling out with his brother because Uncle Fisher refused to educate his children. My grandfather, on the other hand, sacrificed a great deal to send my father and his brothers and sisters to Catholic schools. Since there were only three high schools for black students in the entire state of Louisiana when my dad was young, my grandfather sent Daddy to New York where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School and enrolled at Columbia University, though he had to drop out for financial reasons.
- I used to call my father the black Archie Bunker. To quote him referring to Vince Lombardi, he hated everybody regardless of race, creed, or religion. Except Jewish people. Daddy said he had the ultimate respect for Jews because they respected education above all else. And so did he.
- My father’s garden not only nourished my body but my knowledge of plants. He and the other men in the neighborhood had a competition every summer to see who could do the best – the biggest tomatoes, the most corn, etc. Because of a couple huge cherry trees, we had a rather limited area for vegetables, so Daddy went for exotic rather than quantity. Being a Son of the South, he decided to return to his own roots, so to speak. One year he planted peanuts. They were great, but the next year the shells were about the size of a pencil eraser, and the nuts were practically invisible. He learned later that he should have turned the plot to clover for a season because it fixes the nitrogen that the peanuts take out of the soil.
- And he could cook. My signature dish, well one of them. is Shrimp Jambalaya, which came up from the bayou along with the southern inflected vegetable garden. It’s basically stew made with rice and whatever vegetables, meat, or seafood one has hanging around, flavored with lots of Tabasco among other spices.
We never had jambalaya for his birthday because no one could make it to his satisfaction, so dinner would be roast beef in my little kid days and some crab and shrimp casserole when everyone had more or less given up meat.
So, Daddy, I hope you’re still tending your garden and cooking great food, and enjoying the little kids singing on this Halloween birthday!