By Jacob Hatcher
Sometimes if I try real hard I can still smell the roast cooking when I walk in the house. I can hear her holler, “who dat?!?!” from the kitchen when someone opens the front door. I spent most of my summers at her house up on the mountain in Tuscumbia, and a highlight of those summers was always Sunday afternoon when most of the family, and sometimes half of the mountain, would come over for Sunday dinner.
My alarm clock would be the sound of bacon sizzling in a cast iron skillet that had been around since the Dead Sea had a cold; if that didn’t get me going she’d stick a wet finger in my ear, and I can promise you no further efforts were needed to get me out of bed and wide awake at the table for breakfast.
Hymns were sung by folks in their Sunday best in an old Methodist church with a preacher whose southern drawl was as thick as the sorghum I’d put in my biscuit earlier that morning. Old men stood on the church steps discussing the weather and Alabama’s prospects for the season while the organ music spilled out into the streets. It was like a scene from an old documentary about a bygone era. Maybe there are still Sundays like that, but at the time it seemed like I was living in the death throes of a culture clinging on for dear life, knowing that we were at best one generation away from things never being the same.
The best part of those Sundays, besides whatever Nana had in the oven, was getting home and changing into play clothes. There are few things in life as refreshing as taking off khakis and an ironed shirt and replacing them with shorts and a t-shirt. The only thing I know that is more refreshing is the laughter and joy that we shared gathered around that dinner table. We drank gallon after gallon of sweet tea, ate our body weight in cornbread, and dreaded when someone would say, “Well Mama, we better be gettin’ home.”