1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


 John McCurdy 09

            This morning my wife Pearl, treated me to a great breakfast,  9 grain wheat toast, strawberry jam, very thin and crisp bacon and two brown eggs fried in the bacon grease! As it says in the Good Book man was not meant to live on bread alone, he must have a little grease or peanut butter!

            The brown eggs she had bought in response to my whine that I yearned for the taste of a good old brown egg. Now that I’ve eaten them once again, I think what I really yearned for was the brown eggs from the chickens that once graced my Mom’s back yard. Their diet of bugs and worms and seeds and a little cracked corn and the exercise it took for them to get their meals assured that the eggs they produced, somewhat sporadically, tasted far different from the mass-produced eggs of the chicken/egg industry of today.

            The breakfast table discussion became one about eggs, both my wife and I had in our teenage years worked in neighborhood independent grocery stores. My wife spoke of “candling eggs” brought into CJ’s store by their customers to exchange for items they needed and couldn’t produce at home. I recalled that at Fitzpatrick’s General Store

eggs  were not candled so far as I ever knew. On Saturday afternoon and night I certainly counted and crated enough. It was pure drudgery, sitting in the back storeroom smelling eggs and the baskets and boxes they were brought in, with the smell of years of broken and rotten eggs rising into my nostrils. I wanted to be out front, where all the gossip was, where the laughter and fellowship concentrated around the pot-bellied stove in the winter and the ‘pop’ case in the summer. Out where the lies and tall-tales were told! 

            Mr. “Billy” with a stump of a unlit cigar in his mouth would listen to the tales he had heard a thousand Saturday nights, occasionally chuckling under his breath at possibly a new or slightly different half-truth. His wife “Miz Valle” would often come over and help or just visit with the wives of the folks and aid them in their shopping.  Homer Plogger would be right in the midst of the action, interjecting his opinion on whatever incident was being discussed, and me,  I was stuck in the Back Room counting  eggs!

Mr. Billy’s cigars were a source of vexation to both ‘Miss Valle” and myself. Mr. Billy would light them and then forget to keep them lit and he would chew them to the nubbin, occasionally lighting them. At least once a day some smart-alecky customer would come in  and  say something like, “Mr. Will, yer chews on fire”!  Many times when a customer came in, and always when the customer was a woman, he would remove the cigar from his mouth and lay it down with the burnt end away from the wooden surface of the counter. He’d often forget it, and invariably when this occurred either ‘Miz Valle” or I would lay our hand on the soggy-wet and chewed on end. I would fume inwardly but not ‘Miz Valle” she would, if no customers were present (and often if they were),  proceed to chastise him for his unsanitary ways.  Mr. Billy would sigh and say, as husbands do, ”I know”.   

            The reason I am sure we did not “candle “our eggs was that I would scour the banks of Kerr’s Creek searching for duck eggs. When I had found a dozen, which might take as long as a month, I would take them to the store and sell them. I seem to recall that duck eggs were more expensive than hen’s egg’s, they were slightly bigger at least. Since many of those I brought in were likely either rotten or from a nest and contained the beginnings of a baby duck, I was glad we did not sell them locally!  I recall being told they were shipped somewhere with a large oriental population, for what use I wasn’t told!

            But back to my eggs, Mother fried her eggs a little differently from most of the folks I know. Her eggs were, as my brother once described them, “Lacy Eggs”. Mom generally had the skillet considerably hotter than necessary and when she broke the eggs into the bacon grease the sputtered and spattered and the edged burned and resembled brown lace. Mother generally, and for good cause after putting up with first my Dad and then with we kids in the mornings, would be in a little less than a good mood. If it were winter, and that’s when I remember we ate the most eggs, she would be cooking on the old Home Comfort wood Stove. The cooking surface heat was a lot harder to control than today's gas and electric stoves. She had an electric stove for summer use, and on occasion, would use it for the egg frying, when she they were generally prettier but not as good!