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“Hellooo 2019!”

Ready or not, the new year rolled in right on schedule—or at least I’m assuming it did. I cheated by setting my clock ahead by three hours so I could truthfully say I stayed up until midnight and still got to bed at my regular time.

Look, at my age staying up to watch the digital numbers roll over to 12 and see a glass ball in New York City creak down while a crowd of hyped-up strangers scream just doesn’t bring the same excitement as it used to. I’m not sure when the thrill left, but I think it was probably the last time that our neighbor, Hal Lloyd, fired his shotgun precisely on the stroke of 12 midnight. I was 10.

In our neighborhood (back in the day before it would have brought in a SWAT Team) it was a competition between some of the more macho men to see which one could fire their shotgun first at midnight to get bragging rights for the rest of the year. It was tricky, as they couldn’t fire before the courthouse clock started its first bong but needed to fire before the bong ended. It required a steady hand, nerves of steel, exact timing and an accurate mantle clock. You’d hear that first big “BOOM!” followed rapidly by a succession of others in the distance. Now that was exciting and worth staying up for.

So, truth be told, I didn’t technically see the old year out and the new year in — but it all sorted itself out anyway and time went ticking on.

I don’t make resolutions anymore either, as I couldn’t remember them any longer than it would take me to write the last one down. If I feel the need to pin some resolutions on my bulletin board, I’ll just get some off Facebook. It won’t matter, as I don’t plan to keep them anymore than the person who posted them does. An old aunt of mine used to say (accompanied by a sniff and toss of her head) “The road to Hell is paved with broken good intentions!” I’ve decided I don’t want to make that road any easier to slide down than it already is—so I make no resolutions to break.

Now, I’ve ‘fessed up and have a clear conscience to start the year and can, also, sincerely wish everyone a year filled with success and fulfillment of whatever your dream is, along with a good dose of happiness and well-being just to smooth the way.

“Wait A Minute!” is in reference to the December Best Cooks column where I shared some of my personal memories and the recipes that triggered them. What came out in the Dec. 27 issue of the Press was a far cry from what had been intended. As I read it, I kept yelling, “Wait a minute—that’s not right, those comments are totally out of context; and some of those aren’t even my recipes! They’re from a previous Best Cooks column!” I probably sounded like a politician or celebrity being questioned. But I was embarrassed, disappointed and way beyond upset! I wanted to place a large disclaimer on a prominent billboard apologizing for the complete fiasco!

Let me quickly state that this brouhaha was in no way the fault of our editor, or any other local staff member. I wrote it, Kevin received it, it was sent, with the rest of the paper, to the graphics department located in some distant land, far, far away (possibly where the Hackers reside), where, evidently, English, composition and work ethics, are foreign concepts. Once it arrived in “La-La Land,” it was taken apart to fill the allotted space with the handiest other past items slotted in to complete the page.

Oh, the pain. I apologize to the readers, my relative and friends whose recipes and memories the article contained for the slip-shod result that was printed. At this point, I’m not certain if I will author anymore of those articles. It hardly seems worth the effort when so little care is put into the final product. It’s now all big business and bottom-line. How I miss the integrity of past owners/editors Jesse Stewart and Wit Ledbetter.

A sad goodbye also came at the start of 2019 with the passing of a long-time neighbor and champion “doer,” Minnie Cowley. Minnie’s death completed the roll call of those Liberty Street neighbors who were all a part of my “growin’-up” years. The names and faces still keep me company whenever I drive down Liberty: Aunt Dora, the Stam House (we thought was haunted), Mrs. Roberts, Howells, Greens, Wills, Haynes, Auntie and Gloria, Ste. Mary, Eva and Benny Stevens and their dogs Brownie and Blackie, Mrs. Taylor, the Gierses, Rickus girls, Taplins, Pogues and the Byron and Hazel Harrington farm that was the favorite playground of every kid in a three-block area. They’ve all passed on now and, I hope, are tenants of a celestial neighborhood.

Minnie wasn’t actually a resident of Liberty Street as she lived the next street over on Cayce. But her energy, generosity and cooking skills were well known to us anyway. She reminded me of a plump and pleasant, super-charged Humming Bird—she’d go zipping around from one project to the next, seemingly in perpetual motion. Zip, and she’d be working in her garden; zip, and she was building a doghouse for some stray; zip, and she was hanging a wash on the line; zip, and she’d be standing on her back porch beating meringue for a pie she was taking to the church for a potluck dinner.

This went on pretty much all day every day. During the early years of her marriage, Minnie also loved to go with her husband when he drove his moving van on long trips. She thoroughly enjoyed being on the move and their many adventures. She was fearless, loved a challenge and little fazed her. Minnie was small in stature, but large in heart.

The next may sound disrespectful, but it’s not intended that way; I enjoyed Minnie’s funeral. I know that seems a horrible thing to say, but, as the saying goes, “You had to be there to appreciate it.”

Don’t forget Minnie was 102 years old, nearly 103! She had enjoyed a long, full and certainly active life. Along with that the ceremony was one of joy and thanksgiving: a true celebration of a faith-filled and well-lived life that left only the essence of good and loving memories. The grandchildren shared their stories of her with respect, gratitude, love and humor. You could tell they all thought their grandmother was a blast! They also knew to clean their plates if they wanted dessert.

After I offered condolences to her daughters, I went to say a final goodbye to Minnie. She looked gorgeous in her lovely pink dress with her hair and makeup beautifully done. Minnie was all dressed up with someplace to go.

She was making her last long-distance trip—with a Driver she loved and trusted all her life to a destination she had always wanted to see. Enjoy your new neighborhood, Minnie!

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