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A perfect ending to a nearly perfect day


Mary Jane Owen

  My Saturday began as it usually does if I get moving in time. After my spare breakfast I pull on one of my favorite tee shirts and head for the courthouse square, to enjoy the pleasures of Sally and Jim Chafin’s Farmers Market located in what was once Dixie Motor Company, and more recently Jim’s family furniture store. If you have not visited the Market, you have missed out. In addition to the usual market stock, fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, other stuff is available: a great coffee shop, crafts, flowers, fresh from the hive honey, treats for both you and doggie, and a display of vintage cars. Most of all it is a social opportunity. You can visit with friends, and meet new folks if you wish. If you don’t have a good time, you must not have a pulse. Try it if you haven’t!

  My mission for this particular Saturday was to acquire tomatoes, preferably heirlooms, so I could make my tomato and basil sandwiches for the annual Owen reunion which was to take place, as it always has for nearly eighty years, on the first Saturday in August. Frankly this occasion was probably my most favorite family thing to do when I was a teenager. It was so much fun that my friends longed for an invitation to go with me and my family. All ages had a great time. Having begun the reunion tradition about 1935, meeting first at the Union Methodist Church and later Grant Park, we then moved in the fifties to Indian Springs State Park which at the time had a swimming pool, bowling alley, canoes, and best of all a dance hall.

  The Owen women, myself excepted, are well known great cooks so our picnic fare consisted of layer cakes, caramel, chocolate, coconut, not to mention pies of every description, all made from scratch, no box mix stuff.  Following our meal, and completely satiated, the entire family, young and old repaired to the dance hall. By this time, some of the men folk had managed to find some modest libation, not a requirement but it certainly did add to the merriment. We jitterbugged, shagged, square danced, fox-trotted, etc. We hated for the evening to end, but by ten o’clock the family headed back to Henry County or Atlanta, wherever family members had settled.

  Now you may attend reunions, but none to equal ours of the fifties. All of the children of LP and Elizabeth Owen are now doing their thing in the hereafter; only six of the grandchildren, of which my sister and I are the youngest, remain. The crowds are not so big now, and we have sensibly opted for air conditioned comfort so we now assemble in another favorite family place, Shingleroof Camp-ground. The food is still okay, meaning some of the women can still seduce the eye and tongue. Never me. Truth be told, I don’t like to cook, never was and never will be a good cook. Love to eat, but hate to cook, and therefore rarely “fire up the stove”.

  Admittedly, there is, frankly, an unspoken competition among the Owen women for the honor of having others request the recipe for whatever it is that their picnic basket contained, the proof of which is to go home with EMPTY dishes.  My Mother was well regarded for her cucumber sandwiches, Mamma Phillips for her chocolate meringue pie, Aunt Annie Ruth for her upside down pineapple cake. You get the picture. Never, never, never have I been asked for a recipe and I always leave with near full dishes. Not, that is, until this year. I finally made it and went home with a prized empty dish, having met the requests of several cousins for my 2013 dish: a tomato pie. For sure nothing about this pie is beneficial except for the eye and taste buds, nor is it nutritious. Nevertheless, it is doggone good! After  packing up, I headed for home content and happy that finally I had made the grade. One empty dish and here I am seventy five years old. It took that long to make the grade! Arriving home, I washed up the dishes, and with my dog, Lucy, headed for the couch to repose and bask in my new found glory. Full, happy, blessed by great family connections, I turned on the TV and what might you guess was on the airwaves? Elvis! The King himself. Yes, a re-re-re-rerun of his 1973 Hawaii concert, before he got fat and still had his famous MOVES. Well I watched it TWICE; they run these things consecutively on PBS. To tell the truth, Lucy and I fell asleep, I guess, in the middle of the third running. I don’t remember, but The King was still going when I awakened myself, snoring. How good could any day be? Great family, great food, at last a “foodie” and Elvis. Perfect ending to a perfect day. Ain’t America great! 

  Mary Jane Owen is a veteran educator. She has two children, one grandson and is a member of the McDonough Presbyterian church. She’s an avid Braves fan, reads, writes, and gardens.




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