Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Year of the Great Bean Soup Dilemma

When you are number seven in a tribe of nine children, there are CONSEQUENCES. Consequences like big brothers who think it's funny to tell their little sister in graphic detail exactly where ham comes from - from a pig, from a pig's, well, butt to be exact. And when you are six, and a teensy bit headstrong and definitely repulsed by the image of ham coming from — well, a pig's butt, then you do what any reasonable child would do under the circumstances — you refuse to eat ham, ever. No exceptions.

Now normally, this ban on ham eating would not be a problem, unless of course, you happen to be going to a rural school in Arkansas in the late 1930's, and they happen to serve a lot of bean soup with ham for lunch. They served the soup so often that it was noticed that the little Ohio transplant wouldn't touch the stuff.

Cajoling wouldn't change her stance, nor reasoning (the beans and soup TOUCHED the ham — you just can't reason something like that away!) and finally, when all else failed, threats were made.

And not just any threats, they made the big threat — “We're going to write a note home to your mother!” And when the little girl still refused to eat the soup, the school followed through and sent a note home detailing the child's refusal to eat.

To say that her mother was unhappy about receiving the missive from school is to understate the response by a couple of miles. As my mother put it, she caught holy heck from her mother.

But even this didn't change my mother's mind on eating the soup. Finally, everybody just gave up trying to get her to eat it. Curious, I asked her, what did you eat instead? Mom said she didn't know what she ate on those days when bean soup was on the menu, but she knew what she didn't eat — bean soup with ham.

So in a little country school in Arkansas, where some of the children went to school barefoot, and where all the first-, second- and third-graders were taught in the same one-room building, my mother learned a couple of lessons.

She learned that listening to the big third graders reading out of their more advanced readers made her a better reader, which turned out to be a huge advantage when she went back to Ohio to finish her education.

She learned at the ripe old age of six, when it was important, she had the power to say no and to make the no stick.

And she learned that a person could live a full life without eating bean soup with ham.

And that my friends is the answer to the Carnival of Genealogy's question, “Mom, how'd you get so smart?”

Until Next Time!

Disclaimer: No pigs were harmed in the writing of this post. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the writer's own thoughts on the subject of pork and or ham. In fact, they no longer reflect the author's mother's feelings on the subject of pork and or ham. In do course, and as a cognizant request, please do not send any brochures from the “Council on Pork,” nor from the “Save the Pigs” foundation. Really, we are just a normal everyday family - normal, normal, normal.

Note this post first published online, May 8, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

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