The Dance

My mother’s family didn’t see each other on a regular basis,but periodically they would decide that it was time to get together once again and plan a summer picnic to reconnect with each other.  Such was the case one memorable summer.
I was in my pre-teen years and had received a small 45 rpm record player as a gift. It looked like a little square suitcase with a plastic handle on the side for easy carrying,and it had a small pouch on the other side to hold some favorite tunes.  From the very moment I played a record on it,I had no doubt that this was the greatest invention since peanut butter,and it began a long and lasting love affair between me and music.  Today,I love and admire all types of music( well,possibly not rap) but country was mostly the type my mom and dad had on the radio and allowed us to listen to.  Oh,how I wish that I had a quarter for every Saturday night I drifted off to sleep  hearing the “Martha White’s self-rising flour” jingle and the sounds of the Grand Ole Opry. It was a part of my upbringing, and had a large influence on me thereafter. So,after a little bit of begging and a whole lot of promising to take good care of it,I had convinced my parents to allow me to take this record player to our Sunday family get-together.
As we pulled up in front of my aunt and uncle’s house I saw other cousins scrambling from cars and running to meet each other.  Relatives were parking their cars in a nearby lot and the women were toting foil-covered casserole dishes toward the house in preparation for a lunchtime feast. It was a day that I had been looking forward to. In those days there were no cell phones,two-way talking or texting to keep in touch.Some of my relatives didn’t even have a telephone.  So being reunited at a once-a-year picnic was quite the ordeal!
Food was in abundance like always and after a wonderful meal and lots of conversation to catch up on what everyone had been doing, I went to the car to get my record player. When I returned, after spending some time outside with some of the others,the kitchen had been cleared and a large table cloth had been thrown over the pies and desserts that were on the table. Mom and her sister,Jesse,( whom we all called Siddie although I never knew why)and a few of the other aunts and uncles,were sitting around the table,drinking coffee and engaging in small talk.  The kitchen was bright and cheery and portrayed a ”home-y” atmosphere.  I can remember to this day how my aunt’s linoleum floors were always so shiny you could almost see your reflection.
I found a nice spot on the counter to set my player,and then I plugged it in. I had brought along an assortment of country songs and proceeded to put on a popular song by “Gentleman” Jim Reeves. His smooth,soft voice began to fill the room like a mystic vapor. Everyone stopped their conversations and turned  toward the record player. The song itself was enchanting,but what happened next will be forever embedded in my mind.
Without a word,my Uncle Jake got up from his chair,walked over to my Aunt Siddie and extended his hand to her. She reached for it and as he graciously eased her from her chair,he put his other arm around her waist and they proceeded to glide across that shiny linoleum floor better than I had ever seen it done on t.v. The room was quiet except for the singer’s deep and mesmerizing voice.No one spoke…no one moved…except the two people on the makeshift dance floor.Swaying with the music and not missing a beat,my aunt and uncle danced as if it were the most natural thing in the world. As a kid,I didn’t fully appreciate the “tenderness” of such a moment,however I did know that it was about the neatest thing that I had ever seen. I looked over to my dad,who was always a little on the serious side and didn’t go for much nonsense or things that seemed even a little out of the norm.  But he had a slight smile on his face so I knew then and there that I wasn’t the only one who had enjoyed this moment.  I wished it would last forever.
Today I share with you a recipe that I am not sure which relative contributed,but I do recall that the dish always seemed to appear at most family gatherings. A great crisp and cool summer salad,guaranteed to put some energy into your ( dancing) steps!
Corn Salad
( serves 8 people)
8 ears of sweet corn (cooked,cooled and cut off the cob)
OR…… 2-14 oz. cans of corn,drained.
½ large green pepper,chopped
½ red pepper,chopped
½ small red onion,chopped
Italian dressing ( just enough to coat the vegetables)
Dice all of the vegetables and add to the corn in a medium-sized bowl
Add the Italian dressing  and mix well
Chill for at least one hour  ( can be kept in refrigerator for several days)
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2 Responses to The Dance

  1. Judy Carney (jloon from old G E chatroom) says:

    I just read your two stories that were passed on through Milt. I enjoyed them & the recipes very much. I used to get your newsletter and I have missed it. It is certainly nice to hear from you again. I do hope all is well with you.

  2. ErnestWilson says:

    Fantastic I am one that does not read a lot except theNewspaper etc, but I will make it a point to read as many of these articles that are published. They are a wonderful collection home spun articles that will keep your attention and just waiting for the next one in line. Thanks to the editor and of course to Jeanie.

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