I was told by a couple of readers that a recent column I wrote was “educational.” They found out what “B/chamel sauce” is. I have to admit that I didn’t know myself until I learned it from TV, watching the Food Channel. Actually, I have learned a lot about cooking from watching the food channel.
I have one serious problem though. I can’t remember a thing I watch. This problem started gradually about five years ago and seems to be getting worse as I age a little.
One thing I do remember is that all chefs start whatever dish they happen to be cooking the same way. First, they put a liberal amount of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet, get it smoking hot and then dump in some onions, garlic and chopped celery. If you are a resident of Louisiana, you can throw in some green bell pepper. It works with nearly anything, probably even cornbread.
Anyway, regardless of what I wrote, I didn’t mean it to be educational. That sounds too dull to me and besides that, I’m not qualified to write an educational column. Like another writer once said about Ernest Hemingway: “You can read everything he ever wrote and never touch a dictionary.”
Without being compared to Hemingway, I can say the same about me. I don’t use any big words because I don’t know any. All I ever wanted to be from the time I was about 5 years old was a steam locomotive engineer. Big words for that job were not needed — just a big watch and a big stomach.
Unfortunately, by the time I reached the age that I might qualify as an engineer, steam locomotives were being replaced by diesel engines. There was absolutely no excitement involved with running a diesel engine. Even their whistle was puny.
I decided it would be better to get into some other line of work which I did. I tried a little of everything, and not one job I ever had allowed me to get up a good head of steam and blow a whistle. I had to do what I had to do.
In 1986, I retired from the occupation that I had chosen after 29 years and three months upon reaching the age of receiving Social Security. Now, I could do what I wanted within limits. There was no steam locomotives left for me to run even if I still wanted to.
I decided to write a book about growing up during the Great Depression from the viewpoint of a kid so my three kids would know about the “Good Old Days” and what they had been fortunate enough to miss.
I called it “The Ill Winds of Texas” and I self-published it. If it was a best seller, I would get all the money. I admit though it never made any money, all copies quickly sold to the people I had written about. I had been told that according to the First Amendment, I could write anything I wanted about anybody and I did.
By this time, I was hung up on writing and wrote four more books, which I managed to sell with the help of the publicity I received, probably from the first one in which I wrote some really good stuff about folks who would have preferred that it not be written.
Then, I was approached by Shelton Prince who was then the publisher of the Bulletin. He wanted me to write a column. I think that was a little over 10 years ago and the best I remember; the ill winds have brought only two complaints.
Those winds, however, are still blowing.
Harry Marlin’s column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletin’s Viewpoint page. E-mail him at pilgrimB17@verizon.net.