Frank Fax Facts
Volume XVII, No. 49
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Just call me Perle Mesta! This week I did more entertaining (though I question that the guests were as entertained as I had planned) than since Steve Moore and I stopped catering! Monday, I had Charles Smoke out for Sicilian Steaks (recipe in The Chef’s Corner) and to listen to the CD of The Canterville Ghost. I served a green salad (Romaine and Endive) plus cucumbers, green pepper, celery, capers and a dressing of olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. We both enjoyed the meal very much. I had made a chocolate cream pie, which we deferred till later---and then we both forgot about it, and poor, dear Charlie did not get his just desserts! But he seemed to enjoy my first attempt at opera.
Tuesday was Fat Tuesday, (aka Mardi Gras) and everything had gone beautifully the previous day, so I got busy and called Janet, Russ and Marge to come out for bridge and a lunch of Shrimp Jambalaya. Since I had the dessert already, I decided just to do a repeat performance on the green salad. It went over like a crocheted bath tub! The Jambalaya was as thin as gruel (it has never been so watery before!) but at least they enjoyed the day old pie
The real disaster (or, Lunch de Soiree noir) came on my third, and (mercifully) last day of playing the deranged chef. My niece, Sharon had driven from
with her husband, Joe Grimly. We drove to Office Max where I selected a new desk for my computers that now take the place where I had two grand pianos for years. (I sold one of the pianos several years ago, and utilized the space for my first several computers. There were two Commodores (remember them?) which I upgraded to a McIntosh (because of a superb music writing program that allowed me to print my own music.) Then, when I began sending E Mail, I purchased a Compaq (as did George) and then this Dell (which has served me for years). I have, also, an Acer Laptop. So wouldn’t you expect me to know what I am doing when I come out here? I wish!. Waynesboro
Joe spent the rest of the morning putting the desk together. This is no simple task, believe me.
stayed out here, helping him; while I proceeded to put the finishing touches on the most beautiful boneless pork ribs I had ever seen. While waiting for their arrival, I had painstakingly peeled and sliced two large sweet potatoes, which were cooking in the juices from the ribs. The kitchen odors were driving us all crazy; I had also cooked some Lady Peas with ham and garlic. Then, I did the unthinkable: without watching what I was doing, I turned the heat under the ribs, to high. I walked back out here to watch the final steps in the putting together of my L-shaped desk. Then I got interested in emptying a plastic cabinet full of all sorts of computer paper. Suddenly, Sharon called out, “Uncle Francis, do I smell something burning?” I died! Sharon
Almost the identical same thing had happened last year when Beth was visiting from
: I turned a gorgeous beef roast into charcoal with no trouble at all. Idaho
Sadly, the ribs and the yams were both totally ruined. Even the peas were so hard we couldn’t eat them. I still do not know what caused that particular disaster.
Since Joe married
, he has turned from someone who had never cared for anchovies, into an “anchovy bread nut!” Knowing this, I had thrown in a large tray of my own version of the tasty treat. Sharon
Time out for that recipe: Instead of the usual loaf of French bread, I use a package of those wonderfully soft and luscious Wal Mart rolls: each one looks like a miniature football. I open a can of the little darlings (anchovies), and let the oil fall into the cut-in-half rolls that I have waiting on a cookie sheet. If I run out of oil before each half-roll has its share, I take my ever-ready half gallon bottle and complete the task. With a sharp knife, I cut the anchovies (which I lay flat on a cutting board) into small pieces. Next, I make small “pits” in these well oiled half-rolls, into which I place the cut anchovies. Then, I sprinkle all with dried oregano leaves and black pepper. They are then ready to go into the oven. (Preheated to 350)
I always try to be very aware of the oven temperature as well as the length of time I cook them. Not to be redundant, but last fall, I had the other two “Mosquitoes” over to watch USM lose to UAB (which still defies belief!). After our meal, I put a tray of anchovy bread into the oven. Then, I made the fatal mistake of going back to look at the game----and Lo and behold: this time it was I who noticed the disgusting acrid stench of burnt hors doers! Jerry tried valiantly to eat them (I didn’t even want my buddies to see what a mess they were, but Gerry is the eternal optimist, and swore he could eat them! Alas, even he could not conquer this time.
But, Wednesday, Sharon (who loves the stuff just as any of the other Imbragulios) helped me make sure that this one item was not ruined! After we ate every last smidgen, I brought forth a Pannetoni, which we had as dessert, with vanilla ice cream.
Thus ended the most dreadful period of kitchen disasters that I ever encountered! Rather like, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”
On a happier note, Ken Williams came by at 6:30 last night to drive me to his house to watch USM vs. Rice in a real shoot-out. The second half looked as if our team were bored with the whole thing, while Rice moved ahead. The Eagles managed (in the very last second) to win the game, thus avoiding overtime. Ken had a foot-long tuna Sub, which we shared, as we sweated out the often terrifying game. The team is now in 2nd place (to
) in C-USA, and with a win against SMU (Wednesday at home) should automatically finish there. But, it would be so wonderful if Memphis could manage to screw up and lose! Memphis
The Chef’s Corner
From The UP Side of My Week
Mama always said to place the steaks in the skillet with nothing else. Turn the heat on, and turn the steaks over as soon as they have reached a pinkish white color. When this side is the same color, remove the meat from the skillet and place aside. Cover the bottom of the skillet with olive oil, adding as much garlic as you like (I like to leave it in large chunks, so those who do not want to eat it, can take it out). When the garlic is golden brown, replace the steaks, add salt and pepper to both sides, cover the skillet, and cook slowly, for about an hour. Add a half cup of plain vinegar. Cook 30-45 minutes more, and check. The steaks should be extremely tender, and there should still be juices all around and under the steaks. Eat heartily!
If anyone says anything about your reeking of garlic, just tell them that it was worth it!
All you really need to serve with this is some sort of green salad, and perhaps a baked potato. I never want anything other than lots of soft bread to sop in those juices!
“If I didn’t woke up, I’d still be sleeping!”
Old Time Movie Reviews
The Nun’s Story (WB 1959)
Audrey Hepburn gives a memorable, touching and thoroughly believable performance as the daughter of a great physician who chooses the religious life, even though she has so much medial training and expertise that it really seemed a foolish decision on her part. This is made clear by the number of people who try to talk her out of this decision.
The film seems extremely realistic (the setting is
in 1931, and ends there in 39). There is plenty of interest and suspense, in spite of the numbing boredom of the novice’s coming to terms with having to live between the several “bell ringings” in each monotonous day. Brussels
The cast includes Dean Jagger, as her father; Peter Finch, as the non-believer who is the surgeon for whom she works in the
; Colleen Dewhurst; Edith Evans and Peggy Ashcroft make it a cinema lovers’ delight. Congo
Hepburn received still another Academy Award nomination for her work (and, in my opinion should have won it.) I was totally sickened to learn that Doris Day was actually nominated for Pillow Talk that same year!) (****)
Lona, the Belle
A True Love Story
She rolled over on her stomach and attempted to get some degree of comfort. She had slept fitfully all night because of the heat and humidity all through the house: the too small and utterly wretched hovel Papa had rented when he moved them here to Richton from Blodgett. She had argued with him about moving them to yet another dinky little town, where things were just as bad as their present location had become after the sawmill was shut down. But he was adamant and told her he’d take no “lip” from her. He had certainly changed from the gentle man they had all known him to be, into the snarling, mean and thoroughly unpleasant tyrant who had lost one of his eyes due to his job at the mill. The only damages the pitiful job gave him, in return, was to pay his hospital bill in
“I aim t’put that on a house in Richton,” he announced, after Lone had asked what good he thought that little dab of money would do them.
“Why do we have move to Richton?” she had persisted in causing him to lose his temper.
“Because, god dammit, I wanna git as far away from this hell hole jest as quick as th’ lord’ll let me!”
“Well, you keep takin’ His name in vain, and I hate t’think what He’ll do to you!” And she plodded out of the room.
They had lived in Blodgett most of her life. She was two years younger than Ruby, and Ruby had been a baby when they had moved to Blodgett from Eastabutche. She had no memory of Eastabuche.
“Lone” as she called herself (she had always loathed the name Lona Belle, ever since she was old enough to know just how terrible it really was) got heavily out of the bed, with its lumpy mattress and flour sack sheets; did not bother to put on her bedroom slippers, and made her way through the hallway to the front of the house. It was one of those shotgun houses, that had no “Front Door”. It was almost a carbon copy of the shack they had lived in before they moved. That house had been provided for their large family since Papa began working for the Blodgett Lumber Yards twenty-six years ago.
She was gazing with blind eyes at the outside world, not seeing a single object, so rapt was she with her thoughts. After standing quietly for about ten minutes, she suddenly felt the need for a cup of Griff-----desperately. That was what the Olivers called coffee- every one of them.
She walked quietly towards the kitchen.
I started up the staircase that led to the WPA Library that was located on the second floor of the Richton Bank and Trust Company. I loved going anywhere that was the second floor of any sort of building: I seemed always to have a mad desire that my family would one day live in a two-storied house, and that I should have an upstairs bedroom, all my own. That has never happened, except when I was away at college, and always lived in rented rooms, except for a brief time at
It was a rather cold day in November, and I had to open the wooden door that led into the library from the wooden stairs.
“Well, hey there!” She called, smiling broadly. “Come on in!”
“Mornin’, Lona Belle,” I greeted my friend, as she had turned out to be. I put the two books that I was returning, on the edge of her desk.
“Did you like th’ books?” She asked.
“Yeah. I love anything by Mary Roberts Rinehart!” I said enthusiastically. “But George didn’t even try to read that book you sent him.”
“Why not?” she sounded shocked and a bit defensive that he had not read the book she selected. When I had told her my brother, George, whom she had never met, wanted me to bring back a book for him to read, he had made no suggestion, she had immediately pulled a thick book from the shelves and handed it to me. I read the title and made no comment. I had never heard of the place, nor had I any idea what a “Hunchback” was.
“Oh, he just said he was not the least bit interested in reading a book that thick about football.”
“But, it’s not!” She resisted laughing by the hardest. “It’s a great French classic.”
“Well, he didn’t say he wanted another book today. So, I’ll just browse around to see what else you have that I might enjoy.”
Lona Belle had become the town’s librarian right after her family had moved to Richton from a smaller town called Blodgett. At this time, I knew nothing about her family, but that was about to change very quickly.
There were just three of the Olivers at home, when they made the move to Richton: Ruby, Mary and Lorene were all married, as was Robert, the oldest son; Karl was living in
She had dragged a dilapidated rocker out to the sagging front porch yesterday, after their noonday meal of collard greens, with fat back, and corn bread, and was enjoying the cool day, when Karl’s fair-haired head came into view from around the side of the house.
“Hi, Wona Belle,” his thin reedy voice called out. Karl had trouble with L’s.
She gasped in shocked horror, and then managed, “Hello.”
He gave her a long, appraising look, and then asked, “How’re Mama an’ Papa doin’?”
Her plump shoulder rose and then settled back in disgust and resignation. “Aw right, I reckin.”
His reaction to this was quick and bitter. He was just a year older than she, but had always acted as if he owned the world. He was as persnickety as any old maid, and everything always had to be just so for him. Shaking his head in disappointment and rising anger, he lashed out at her. “Wona Belle--- why are you so damned mean and hateful?”
She took her time to answer: carefully enunciating each word when she finally did: “Karl---I--- just---- HATE --you!” The words were spoken with so much venom that he realized, still again, just how much they truly did loathe each other.
“Well, there’s no love lost,” was his trite reply as he shoved past her and entered the house.
She heard her parents making it sound as if the Prodigal Son had returned, as they hugged and kissed him.
“Are you hungry?” she heard her mother ask. “There’s some collard greens and corn bread left.”
Karl almost gagged at the thought; but he was determined to be pleasant to his parents, at least. “I’m ravenous! I’d love some.”
Lona Belle pantomimed his words; almost laughing out loud she found them so funny. She was about to yell from the porch, that Jeanie should offer him a nice cool glass of butter milk, when that is exactly the words she heard coming from the kitchen.
“Oh, I’ll just have water,” he said, as Lone nodded her head, suppressing the laughter that was threatening to make itself heard.
Then their conversation turned to his life in
And then she heard his reply that nothing that he was working on was in any condition to be heard just yet.
“Oh, but I do so love it when you play that old piano of mine!”
“Jeanie, he’ll play us some purty tunes when he thinks they‘re ready fer us t’hear ‘em, dang it!. How long can you stay, Son?”
“Oh, I have to be at work from midnight till eight o’clock.” Karl answered. Both parents clucked sadly at that.
She had heard quite enough for one day. She was getting nauseous from their conversation. She rose quietly from her chair, slipped into her bedroom and changed into her one halfway decent dress; ran a comb trough her pale blond hair; applied makeup, being especially careful to distribute the mascara evenly to her colorless lashes and eye brows. Then she reached for her purse and walked quietly out of the house.
They would not even miss her. After all, they had their precious Karl to give their undivided attention.
She directed her feet toward the little town, where she had already found a job and was determined to turn her dull, hopeless life around!
It was Sunday, right after lunch. Helen and Josephine had swept the dining room, after they had cleared the table and done the dishes from our noon meal, and now Josephine said she was going to lie down and try to get a nap. She had slept fitfully last night, she said.
Sammy took off almost as soon as he had finished his pasta and chicken. Nobody asked where he was going. We all knew he was headed straight for Emma Hayden’s house. They were madly in love, but her parents were alarmed at the fact that their younger daughter might marry an Italian and a Catholic, to boot!
Anna had gone into her bedroom and now lay across the bed, with her shoes still on. I walked into the room, considering the shoes a good sign that she might be willing to drive us somewhere for a little “spin”. This was about the only recreation we had on Sundays.
“Maybe a little later,” had been her vague response to my request.
I walked over to the bedroom shared by George and Sammy. There, George was: sprawled out on their bed! Why was everybody always going to bed in the middle of the day? I was bored and wanted something more exciting than a nap!
My brother didn’t seem particularly interested in yet another ride up and down the highway, in spite of my pleading with him. Finally, however, he got up and walked across the hall into Anna’s room. “How ‘bout driving us around town for a while?”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind that one bit!” She had certainly changed her “tune” as soon as it was George doing the asking.
“Oh, Boy!” I had finally gotten my way, by hook and/or by crook, as Mama would say. That it had taken my brother for me to achieve my way bothered me but slightly.
So Helen, who seemed as bored as I was, Anna, George and I walked through the dining room, where Mama sat in her comfortable chair, dozing, while Daddy sat at the table with the Funnies from today’s Times Picayune spread before him. He had on his dime store glasses (with one side missing the original ear brace for which he had substituted a piece of plain wire), and was chuckling at Maggie and Jiggs (which was listed as Bringing Up Father). He got more laughs out of them (and Fibber McGee and Molly, on the radio) than almost anything else. He glanced up as we trooped through the room. “Where y’all think you’re goin’?” he asked, trying to scare me into thinking he wouldn’t give Anna the key to the car. But I was wise to his methods by this time.
“Papa,” Anna adored Daddy and he thought the sun rose and set on her. He never admitted it, but he would have been lost without this daughter’s dogged devotion and unending work at the market. “Papa,” she started over, since he had pretended not to hear her the first time, “are you gonna be needin’ the car for a little while?”
“Anna,” he was already pulling his keys from his pants pocket, “y’all go an’ have a good time. Just be careful, now you hear?”
“I always try to be,” she said, as she took the keys and we all followed her out the back door and into the garage. Our still fairly new Chevrolet waited for us. They told me it was green, but I was colorblind and couldn’t decide what color it was. I walked over to Mama, and bent my head down to let her kiss me goodbye. She called the nape of my neck her “Sugar Bowl”. I never left the house without making sure Mama knew where I was going.
Helen sat on the front seat with Anna, while George and I had the luxury of the back seat all to ourselves, for a change.
“Where y’all wanna go?” Anna asked.
George, as usual, made the decision for us. “Why don’t we just go past the market and towards
“Is that all right with everybody?”
There were two “Um hunh’s” from Helen and me. I could not have cared less, just so long as we were moving.
Anna backed the car slowly and carefully out of the garage and through the gate that led to the gravel road. The blacktop ended just below the house next to ours. Miss Minnie Carter had lived there when Daddy had first bought our house, and then the young couple who ran Bunton’s department store (formerly Clayton’s) had lived there for a time. Since they moved, it had remained empty.
I loved the crunching sound the gravel made as the car rolled over it. This went hand-in-hand with my delight in the smell of gasoline—unless it became overpowering. Now, I was getting both of these at the same time!
I watched as the familiar houses seemed to move by themselves: after the Odoms’ house, the ramshackled old Richton Dispatch building. That was our weekly newspaper, printed by the
Then, Charlie McIlwain’s café, came into view, back on the right side of the street (Sammy and Hobert Daniels loved to go in and order a nickel stew, just to hear Charlie- whose voice tended to quaver-say, “You boys come in here and order a nackle-“ Sammy swore he pronounced it this way- “stew and use a dime bottle of catch-up and a nackle’s worth of crackers!” “Tip” Dobbins’ store was next, then, my friend, Mrs. Martin, and her husband had another café, between Charlie’s and Lott’s Drug Store. Then, there was the road separating that section of town from the huge McCormack’s Ford Motor Company, on the next corner, followed by Pollock’s Dry Goods Store (the store had been in Richton before, but had been closed when we first moved to town.) I used to walk or skate up and down the sidewalk in front of our market, and wondered who Benjamin and Reuben Pollock had been. Both names were written with tiny colored rectangular tiles in the sidewalk that went up between two thick glass show windows. I would learn soon enough, when this father and son returned to Richton.
Next was the most wonderful thing about Richton, as far as I was concerned: The Richton Theater! Mrs. McCormack ran this, too. She was a widow with two pretty daughters. I glanced at the advertisements for Monday and Tuesday’s film, but I had already memorized every word on both the One-Sheet and the Three-Sheet posters. Our store was right next to Utopia. I could sit in the closed-off back of the market, on Saturday, and hear the gun shots and often the conversations from the western that was playing then.
“I guess you want to see that old sorry picture they’re havin’ tomorrow,” George directed the remark to me.
“I’d love to see it!” Even though I knew Mama would not allow it. Kay Francis was looked upon as “Daring” by our parents.
Daddy had added a beer parlor for Rosie’s husband, Jimmy to run. This had utilized a part of our store that had been unused until then.
This part of our ride had taken less than three minutes (Anna drove especially slowly through town) but now she picked up speed as we went past the filling station on the corner of our side of the street. The Cash Supply, run by Clay Ingram and Carey’s Chevrolet Company, stood alone on the left side of Richton’s downtown, and were separated by a third street that ran parallel to main street. Then what amounted to a Slum Area began, with pathetic looking rows of houses, most of which had no electricity.
The car continued northward, which I found boring. “Why don’t we go back through town,” I asked, as we seemed to be going more and more towards
“Just a few minutes more, and then we’ll start back,” was her reply.
Thus it was that we passed Lona Belle as Anna continued in her northerly direction.
“Oh, look---George, that’s Lona Belle!” I was delighted that he would finally get to see what our librarian looked like.
“Who?” he asked.
Anna now entered the conversation, “Yes, George. That’s the nice girl I’ve been telling you about.”
“You mean the one that comes in the market and loves to talk all the time?”
“Yeah. You can tell she’s lonesome, poor thing. They’ve just moved here.”
“Well, why don’t we turn around and ask her to ride back to town with us?” he asked.
Lona Belle was thrilled to death, I could tell, when she finally was introduced to George and Helen.
“Well, George,” you would have thought she had known him forever, “Francis tells me you were not interested in books about football.”
He looked confused, and then embarrassed. “Listen, I don’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t even look at the author’s name! But I really do not care for translations at all.”
She was smart enough to leave well enough alone. She turned her attention to Helen, next. “Well, Helen, Francis tells me you are a grand cook.”
Helen looked embarrassed. “Oh, I don’t know about that! Mama lets me cook now and then.”
“Now, Helen, you know as well as I do that you do most of the cooking in our family,” George said.
“Well, thanks for the complement; but Mama is still the head cook.”
“Mama would be the first one to tell you that she did all of the cooking for so long, that she was more than happy to turn it over to you and Josephine long ago.” And I agreed that is exactly what Mama had said time and again.
Lona Belle told us that her Papa wanted to buy a place closer to town for them to live in. “But so far, he hasn’t been able to find anything we can afford.”
“Wonder if he’s tried the house next to ours?” George asked.
“Is it for sale?” she asked.
“Well---there are no signs on it, but the man who owned it—a doctor Clayton from Ellisville, died recently.”
Lona Bell looked thoughtful. “I’d give anything it Papa could find some place in town for us to move to. It is so hard for me to walk back and forth to work.”
And yet she was walking today, when she could have stayed at home, I thought.
(to be continued)
Movie Trivia Quiz #25
1. Romeo was played by Leslie Howard, in the 1936 version of Shakespeare’s play; the wife of MGM’s leading producer played Juliet. What was her name? (Hannah’s helpful hints: she would never allow herself to be filmed in color, because her eyes were two different colors. AND, she had the lead in MGM’s all female The Women (original version).
2. In The Nun’s Story, from what country was the heroine?
3. Mighty Joe Young was a sequel to which RKO blockbuster?
5. Who were the 3 MGM stars, who were all nominated from the same film in 1935? What was the movie? (hint: it was remade with Marlon Brando.
6. Trail of the Lonesome Pine was
7. With roles as totally different as the brat who caused all the ruckus in These Three*, to the charming and delightful Nancy Drew in Warner Bros. The Hidden Staircase, what was this (ultimately successful business woman)’s name? (hint: she and Jackie Cooper livened up RKO’s wartime drama Hitler’s Children.)
8. Jennifer Jones was married to which famous movie producer? He starred her in Love Letters; Duel in the Sun; and Since You Went Away.
9. The House of the Seven Gables was made into a movie in 1940, with George Sanders, Margaret Lindsy, and which male star of Laura and Dragonwyck?
10. She starred in many Universal films of WW2, notably with
Nelson Eddy and Claude Rains in the quintessential Phantom of the Opera (eat your heart out, Andrew Lloyd Webber!) What was her name?
Answers to Quiz No. 24
1. Top Hat starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
2. Jennifer Jones won an Oscar for her first film role in The Song of Bernadette,
3. Three teenage girls who won Oscars were Tatum O’Neal, Anna Paquin, and Judy Garland (it was listed as a “Special Award).
4. Abe Lincoln in Illinois had Ruth Gordan as Abe’s wife.
5. Bonnie Blue Butler was the name of Scarlett and Rhet’s only child in the film GWTW.
6. Audrey Hepburn won an Oscar for her debut role in Roman Holiday. Her co-star was Gregory Peck.
7. Bette Davis had Miriam Hopkins as her co-star in two Warner Bros, films: The Old Maid and Old Acquaintance.
8. Merle Oberon and Miriam Hopkins* played two teachers in
9. These Three; the first film version of the play by Lillian Hellman: The Childrens’ Hour.
10.The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, had what Angela Lansbury (famous for her “Other Woman” roles) with Robert Preston and Dorothy McGuire.
11. In Rosemary’s Baby, John Cassavetes was Rosemary’s husband.