The Idle American: Remembering Yesterdays…


Minds’ gristmills generally become unhinged--if not totally off the rails--on items of recent history.

But their recollection of long-ago happenings may confound friends, and perhaps amaze whoever is doing the recollecting.

Most of us invoke the Fifth Amendment, however, if asked what we had for lunch--even if questioned at mid-afternoon--and we’ll plead “no contest” on details about breakfast mere hours later.

Rolling our memory calendars back several decades, however, and we recall specific details about meals and much else. Granted, others may see little value in listening to our recitations, and some folks may walk away, perhaps mumbling about being late for an appointment….

Nancy Esters, a church friend with a keen memory fore and aft, often shares great jokes and stories fresh to most ears.

The other day, she spoke of a memory from middle age when her mother asked the same question annually as December 25th rolled around. “What do you want for Christmas this year, Nancy?” After several years of such queries, Nancy answered, “Oh, a new Mercedes-Benz automobile will be fine.”

Instead, her mom gifted her with a pair of new shoes, explaining that God made feet long before he made cars….

Betty West, wife of Sunday school teacher Wayne West, remembers preparing “Sunshine Pie Pudding” for Sunday breakfasts when their four daughters were children. It was a simple recipe, and their family loved it.

It was as much a part of their Sunday mornings as attending Sunday school and church.

Several class members wanted the recipe, so she handed out printed copies on the following Sunday….

When I started writing this weekly piece in February of 2003, I promised occasional inclusions of “can’t miss” recipes. Therefore, I want to make good on this promise--belatedly, I’ll freely admit--since this is only the second time I’ve shared a recipe. (No doubt I’ve run across others that “can’t miss,” but, like much else I’ve intended to do, I likely forgot.)

I’m pretty sure I can make good on getting this pudding from “page to platter” without too much difficulty. (Ingredients should be prepared on Saturday night, or whichever night precedes the planned meal.)

Here’s how: Place four pieces of buttered bread into a buttered 9x9 casserole dish. Mix five eggs, 1.5 cups milk, 1 teaspoon of dry mustard and 1 teaspoon of salt. Pour the mixture over the bread, then cover with at least a cup of grated cheese. Refrigerate overnight and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes….

Beverly Germany, another friend, gives high priority to spending time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One of her “greats” is Ben Battershell, a five-year-old she sees often. He recently pointed to his art “stick figures,” one being drawn for “Gigi,” the children’s nickname for Beverly. He said, “Here are your legs, green grass, your head and your OLD hair!” Another time when she was caring for him and his brothers--Luke, 3, and Mason, 1--the conversation turned to “Papa,” Beverly’s husband who died two years before Ben’s birth. The youngster loves to hear Gigi’s stories about his late grandfather.

“Papa is in heaven now. We are all going to die, but when we get to heaven with Jesus, we will NEVER EVER die again,” Ben related. Asked how he knew these details, he expressed--in wide-eyed innocence--that his mom had told him…..

How can one not think of C. Herbert Woolston’s hymn for children, written more than a century ago? You remember it: “Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they’re all precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Not widely known is that the tune has three verses, all of them altered several times. One goes this way: “Ev’ry color, ev’ry race, all are cover’d by His grace.”

Perhaps no claim by the Holy Bible holds greater truths….

Dr. Newbury, longtime university president, writes weekly and maintains a speaking regimen. Contact: Phone: 817-447-3872. Facebook: Don Newbury Twitter: @donnewbury