I’ve been thinking about my dad since this weekend is Father’s Day, and I wanted to share a story about him. This story is one of the amusing anecdotes that he used to tell. Of course, my written retelling can’t be as funny as listening to him telling the story himself. But since Dad is no longer here to tell stories, my retelling will have to do.
This event happened when Dad (Eugene Hemphill Marlowe) was courting Mom (Bonnie Lee Lawing). The setting is my grandparents’ house in rural western North Carolina in the community of Sugar Hill.
Gene had been visiting Bonnie for a while and it was supper time. Bonnie’s mom, Anna Lee Barlowe Lawing had invited him to stay to eat with the family. Like a typical young man, Gene was not going to turn down a meal and the chance to visit longer with the girl he was sweet on.
Now anyone who knew Gene remembers that Gene LOVED corn. Corn on the cob, creamed corn, or however the corn was served – he loved it. He was a champion corn eater. I don’t remember ever having leftovers whenever corn on the cob was served. I do remember when I sat next to dad that he would sneak some of his empty cobs onto my plate so that it wouldn’t look as if he had eaten so much. Gene enjoyed creamed corn almost as much as he liked corn on cob.
On the evening in question, my grandmother served stewed yellow squash. Although stewed squash and creamed corn have similar coloring, the taste and consistency are very different. Gene loathed stewed squash, he would never willingly eat it. However, he was paying more attention to Bonnie than to the food that was being passed. When he got the bowl of squash, he was thinking creamed corn and served himself an enormous helping, so large he was almost embarrassed about how much he took.
Imagine his dismay when he realized that he had piled his plate with loathed stewed squash! What was he to do? Everyone in that day and time believed that it was wrong to waste food. Gene couldn’t just leave the squash on his plate uneaten. Robert and Anna Lee kept their dogs outside, so there was no chance of slipping the squash to a household pet. He didn’t want to insult the cook. And he didn’t want Bonnie to know he hadn’t been paying attention to the food. So what’s a young man to do in this situation? Well, Gene decided that he would eat squash. He did not enjoy it, but he forced himself to eat bite after bite. By the time the meal was over, he had eaten the entire enormous serving of squash.
Squash could not stand in the way of true love. Gene survived eating squash that day and sometime later married Bonnie. Although stewed squash was never his favorite, he would eat it when Bonnie served it. He admitted that the main reason he ate squash was to be an example to his children, so the children would eat their squash.
Gene and Bonnie lived ordinarily ever after (sometimes happy, sometimes angry, sometimes sad, but mostly happy) for over fifty years. They had three children. From the three children came ten grandchildren (eight of whom are in this picture).
Happy Father’s Day 2013