Some things really do naturally go together

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 8/7/20

In the movie “Forrest Gump,” the Tom Hanks-played main character says numerous times that he and his lady love Jenny go together “just like peas and carrots.”

Now not everybody likes peas …

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Some things really do naturally go together

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In the movie “Forrest Gump,” the Tom Hanks-played main character says numerous times that he and his lady love Jenny go together “just like peas and carrots.”

Now not everybody likes peas and carrots, I know, so for them they don’t go together but they do for me. I like peas and carrots, by themselves or in chicken pot pie. I like English peas, what Shirley refers to as “silly little peas,” cooked with new potatoes and some pastry. My mama used to do that when I was a tender lad of 6 or 11 or 14. And Shirley not often enough throws together a carrot dish that she calls “dimes” or “silver dollars” or some other piece of money. All I know is that they’re sliced across like dimes or nickels and the sauce or whatever that stuff the dish is in has lots of sugar.

I say all that to say that there really are some things that go together in our lives or when you have one you almost automatically think of the other. I know that varies from person to person depending on who we are and what floats our boat. But one of the good things about them, especially when it comes to chow, is not only how tasty good they are but also when it comes to something other than chow how sweet the memories can be.

Case in point: I seldom eat a hog dog that’s served in one of those little ruffled paper holders without thinking of my Uncle Frank Durham. He wasn’t a bit of blood kin to me but his wife was the daughter of the lady in Bynum who reared my daddy, who always referred to Louise as “sister” and her mother as “Mama.” My brothers and I always referred to the two of them as “Uncle Frank and Louise.” I’m not really sure why exactly, and I don’t remember how we called her or spoke to her directly. What I do know is we always called him “Uncle Frank.”

Anyway, when I was the tender age of 5, I spent a year at the Governor Morehead School in Raleigh, aka “the State School for the Blind.” My folks weren’t really sure how I was going to turn out as far as being able to see very well so they thought I should get a head start just in case. In time, the folks at the long-gone McPherson Hospital in Durham helped me turn some corners but that first year had some benefits.

One of them occurred every Sunday night when my folks and, most of the time, Uncle Frank (again) and Louise would take me back to my buddies in the dorm on the Raleigh campus off Western Boulevard. In those dark days of early civilization, there was no I-40 or 440 or four-lane this or that. There was U.S. Hwy. 64 in its radiant 2-lane glory going through Pittsboro and Apex and Cary and on into Raleigh.

Along that stretch between Apex and Cary was a restaurant that, I think, went by the name Seaboard Something or Another. That was, I think, because it was beside or across the road from a pond and the old, now long-gone Seaboard Airline Railway train tracks passed by the place. What was the key, however, was that it was where I got my Sunday night staple of two hot dogs all the way and a significant amount of chocolate milk.

I think it’s the smell — and that’s the association of things going together I spoke of earlier — that makes me remember Uncle Frank. The combination of the chili that soaks into the paper holder always takes about, dare I say it, more than 60-some years off my life and I am once again that little guy.

There is also another nasal association I have with him of things going together, namely Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Today it’s too sweet for me; rather have Spearmint or something similar. But I used to pound a stick or two between my ivories until the cows came home twice and every time I smell Juicy Fruit I think of him.

The other day on purpose I got a pack of Juicy Fruit just to smell it. Chewed one stick; the rest is on my desk. It may be another five years before a second one is chewed but the same association will be there, I’m sure.

He also used to give me a dime every time we said “Goodbye,” too, but I didn’t eat those. Comic books were only 10 cents at the turn of the century then so that’s where my financial bonanza went. Come to think of it, I think hot dogs were maybe a dime at the time, too, so maybe the dimes are the real association.

Anyway, those things — and there are others — are pretty special and really important to me. I hope you’ve got some; if not, find or make some. And if you need help, let me know. A good hot dog is never out of season ... or out of mind.


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