Sunday, August 31, 2008

Julie Andrew's favorite things about aging!

Julie Andrews Turns 69,

To commemorate her birthday , actress/vocalist, Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan 's Radio City Music Hall for the benefit of the AARP.
One of the musical numbers she performed was 'My Favorite Things' from the legendary movie 'Sound Of Music'. Here are the lyrics she used:
> > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > >> > > > > > > > >
(Sing It!) - If you sing it, its especially hysterical!!!

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting ,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

She received thunderous applause, a 4 minute standing ovation and muliple encores!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Monday, August 25, 2008

Slave Cuisine

A lot of the foods that we eat here in the United States especially among the African American communities, have roots that stem from slavery.

Along with the African slaves kidnapped and brought to the U.S. in slaves vessels for the purpose of bondage came many foods that were native to their home environment. Records reveal that most of the slave cargo ships carried with them food goods directly from Africa for the enslaved passengers to consume during their journey across the Ocean.

Some ships carried foods central to the African diet, such as rice, okra, tania, black-eyed peas, cassava, yams, kidney and lima beans, peanuts, millet, sorghum, guinea melon, watermelon, and sesame (benne). The ship logs of the slave vessel Elizabeth, bound for Rhode Island in 1754, listed provisions of "yams, plantain, bread [cornbread], fish and rice."

Records from the slave ship Othello (1768-69) listed hundreds of baskets of yams taken on board as provisions along with lesser quantities of plantains, limes, pepper, palm oil, and gobbagobs (goobers or peanuts). However, most ships did not provide an adequate ration of these foods to last the entire journey. As a result many of the captives died.

Of course, the slaves on these ships were extremely fortunate. Other ships provided only small portions of rice and beans with a "slabber" sauce, made from old beef, rotten fish and salt, which was poured over the rice and beans in an attempt to fill the slave's stomachs. As you might have guessed, this often resulted in the death of many slaves from the obvious food poisoning. Its a wonder that only about 1/3 of the original captives on some ships actually made it alive to America.

However, as previously mentioned many crops that had been native to Africa made their way into the Southern cuisine and became staples on the slave menu.

The ordeals of the slaves were many. Many slaveowners did little to see to their comfort or well-being. For those who did, more often than not, it was not the result of any genuine concern for the slave per se. Rather, they had their own interests in mind since they viewed the slaves as an investment and their own livelihood depended on the ability of the slave to perform the free labor needed for the owner to prosper.

Despite this, many provided the slaves with just enough food to produce the energy to complete a day's work. Of course, in those days, the average workday was from sunrise to sunset. For many, this meant a full day of working in the fields performing hard labor in extreme weather conditions. Providing the slaves with just enough food for energy was a good case scenario. Many did not provide adequate rations of food to the slaves. Many slaves who tolled for the benefit of their Masters were nearly starved and subsisted only on meager helpings of food.

In most instances, the slaves raised crops and procured meats for the subsistance of the Master and his family and were not allowed to partake of these foods themselves. For instance, if they butcherd a hog or a cow, the Master would get all the prime cuts of meat such as the shank for ham, bacon, pork chops, steak and the like. The slaves would get all the parts of the hog or cow that the Master would not eat and parts that were traditionally thrown away such as the intestines, feet, neck, ribs(carcass), liver, ears, tongue, tails and such.

But God always has a way of turning something that Satan meant for bad into something good. From these scraps came the genesis of the African American cuisine that today is known as "Soul Food." Many of the sisters that were brought here from Africa brought with them their culinary talents that they had learned in the Mother Land which enabled them to turn the scraps they were given into something next to wonderful. After all, their very survival depended on it.

Hence came the creation of such dishes as chiterlings, pig feet, tails and ears, neckbones, barbeque ribs, hogshead cheese and ham hocks. Add to these, their native yams, okra, black-eyed peas other crops such as greens, rice and beans, it made for some good eating and became slave delicacies.

In addition, dishes make from grains such as skillet and hot water cornbread and grits became slave staples.

When they did get to eat more traditional cuts of meat, you were looking at some cooking. They created such dishes as smothered pork chops, glazed hams, steak with gravy, fried catfish, turkey and dressing and fried chicken.

At Christmas, many slaves described the killing of hogs, turkeys and chicken with plenty of side dishes and desserts to go around. However, during most of the year, this was not the norm. Normally, their food was rationed but again, the slaves made the best with what they were given.

Most of the dishes that the slaves conjured up are still being enjoyed today although many now have modified the ingredients because of today's health concerns, myself included. The prevalence of diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and heart problems especially amongst the African American population have caused many to substitute meats such as pork with chicken or turkey and grill rather than fry meats and vegetables.

Remember, slaves for the most part consumed pork because their survival and the survival of their future generations required them to do so. Prior to them arriving in America, many of them did not consume pork. Instead their diets consisted mainly of other small portions of other meats and mostly vegetables. Many Africans today still do not eat pork. Could our ancestors have known the adverse effects that prolonged consumption of pork could have on their bodies? The Bible, in Deuteronomy teaches it is unclean to consume swine or any animal that has divided hoof and/or chews a cud.

As for myself, I consume pork maybe 3 times a year, ham at Easter and Christmas and 4th of July Ribs. Other than that, it is turkey, chicken and fish, all cuts but I work these meats into the traditional dishes originated by African slaves.

Whatever, your preference, if you enjoy "Soul Food," you have the slaves to thank for its origin.

Psalm 146:5-7

5Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

6Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

7Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Grandma Margery Brittentine Lee and son Huey Lee

Photograph of my GG-Grandmother, Margery Brittentine Lee and son Huey Lee in a deguerretype photo/postcard. On the back is written: Mrs. R.C. Lee and Master Hughie Lee(She was the wife of Richard Clyde Lee)Taken circa 1915-1917 since Uncle Huey was born in 1912. The frame surrounding the picture was digitally added as was the names on the photo. Click to enlarge

Margery(Margie) Brittentine Lee was born in about 1880. She was the daughter of Monroe and Sophia Gay Brittentine. She was one of about 12 children including Robert, Sidney, Esther, Eva, Ella, Lizzie and Jones, Phoebe, Promise, Punny and Ernest. She resided in the Plain Dealing/Rocky Mount,Louisiana area near Shreveport.

She married Richard Clyde Lee on January 27, 1894, the son of Betty Banks Brown Lee Smith and her 1st husband. Richard and Margery according to oral history met at their family church, Galilee Baptist Church. She reportedly sang in the choir. The ceremony was performed by an uncle, Reverand Allen Brown. It was a double wedding since Richard's sister Mary Eliza married Marcus Burton the same day. It was a Saturday wedding on more than likely a crisp winter day since the average high is about 56 degrees in that area during January.

Copy of their marriage liscense (Click to enlarge)

Margie picked a good husband. Not only was he extremely handsome but Richard was a hard-working man and a go-getter. He is listed on the census as doing farm work but also taught school at Galilee Baptist Church according to my late cousin Lizzie Neal Bagley of Detroit, Michigan who was one of his pupils. She also related that he was very educated and he and his wife Margery were regarded as 2 of the most upstanding colored citizens of the area.

By all accounts, Grandma Margie was a fine dresser. She and her husband were well to do and she dressed accordingly. According to family sources, she was a wonderful seamstress having sewn many of her own outfits.

She was also a wonderful homemaker. She and her husband lived in a grand home in Rocky Mount. They owned over 80 acres of land which still remains in the family.

Papa Dickie(Richard Lee) is said to have owned one of the nicest horse-drawn buggies in the area. He acquired hundreds of acres of properties in bossier parish some of which he purchased according to records from the DeMoss Family.

They were a strong God loving family who had deep Christian and family values that they passed on to their families.

Richard and Margery raised two sons, Robert Edward Lee (1897), my grandfather and Huey Lee (1912). Tragically, Margery miscarried approximately 6 other children including twins all of which were girls. According to her son, Huey Lee, all are buried in Galilee Cemetery in Plain Dealing surrounding the body of Mrs. Margery Brittentine Lee.

Their grief was kindled by the birth of their 1st grand-daughter, Johnnie Pearl Lee in 1918, the daughter of their son Robert and his wife, Annie Bell Johnson Lee. By all accounts, they loved her very much and spent a lot of time fawning over her. According to my Aunt Lizzie Neal Bagley, Johnnie Pearl’s cousin on her mother’s side, she spent most of her time and holidays with her “Papa Dickie” and “Grandma Margie.”

Richard died in 1926, cause of death unknown at the age of 54. Among the loved ones he left behind were Margery, his wife of 32 years, 14 year old Huey, 29 year old Robert and his mother Bettie.

According to my Grandpa Johnie, Grandma Margie developed breast cancer in the early 1930's. As a result, both of her breast were surgically removed. Unfortunatley, the cancer spread and Margery Brittentine Lee died on November 14, 1937. She is buried next to her beloved husband, Richard Clyde Lee in Galilee cemetery.

She was a fine woman who passed down some meaningful family values and I will always love her for it.

Rest in peace Grandma, until we meet someday!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Johnnie Willie Greene

Here is a memorial page that I added for my Grandpa Johnnie Willie Green. I recently did a blog page on him in honor of his "Would Be 100th birthday" but I am now adding his image. To read more about him, please find his story under Green/Greene line

Please note that the items surrounding his photograph, i.e, coins and keys were some of his actual belongings. You can click on the photo to enlarge the image.