I don’t know why so many memories are associated with food. If I see a good movie, I can’t remember a year later whether I ever saw it or not.
“Did you ever see that movie, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH?”, a friend will ask.
I look at my wife like a dumbfounded child. “Did I see that?” She rolls her eyes. She’s thinking, “Does he even remember my name?”
But good food? I can still remember what a hamburger tasted like in 1965 from Dunks in Griffin, GA. A little hole in the wall place. McDonalds was barely on the horizon. Dunks was King before there ever was a BK.
It was a block building. Painted green on the outside. Kind of a light green to compliment the full length Coca-Cola sign that went all the way across the front of the building. All 20 feet of it. It was a small place. Barely big enough for booths down the two side walls. A horseshoe counter in the middle with chrome bar stools and red vinyl seats all the way around. The horseshoe opened to a window on the back wall. Orders were handed off to the kitchen and incredible hamburgers were swooped up and floated to our table. Ice cold Cokes were gulped from 6 oz. glass bottles as it should always be.
I’ve had fried shrimp at the Original Calabash in Myrtle Beach. Bacon wrapped shrimp at Wentzel’s in Mobile. Naked dogs at the Varsity. No need to tell you where that is. Bar-B-Que at the Open Air Pit in Jackson. And with every place there are memories. The sound of the guy yelling out from behind the counter. The jar of Bazooka Gum that sat on the counter. The countless ‘quotes’ that plaster the walls on Dauphine Street. The sound of a screen door creaking while you sit close to the warmth of the pit on a cool night.
Not all memories come from good food, though.
Some folks say that you make memories. Money is spent at Disney every year to do just that. I never took my kids to Disney. I’m hoping that by now they have forgiven me. I’m sure we missed some great memories. I’m thinking we should maybe take the grandkids there. Sneak off in the night.
Honestly, though, I’m guessing that most memories, the good ones, just come along unexpected. They are woven into the threads of everyday stuff. We don’t have to go anywhere to make memories. After you live long enough, they just come to you. Like old friends that you haven’t seen in 30 years who just show up and ask to visit for a spell. You welcome them. And, mostly, we live in fear of losing them.
This is the main reason I started to write. To capture the memories. I’ve been writing for years, just not for public consumption. Private note pads in cursive for the kids to read one day. Passing along the memories. If you don’t write them down, they won’t survive. And if they don’t survive, they can’t fuel the memories of those that come after you.
If a person really wants to live he should just soak in the life he already has. It’s popular today to talk about a bucket list. All the things you want to do before you die. Usually big things. Extravagant things. We all have a few of those. But the thing I have the most of are the sunrises that come to me every day and that offer up some pretty fine people and places worth remembering.
I’ll never eat at Dunks again. It’s long gone. The building is still there. I drive right by the place from time to time on my way to somewhere else. And when I do, it comes alive in my mind. I smile to myself. I feel the weight of the boy I once was. And the memory of it makes me one of the richest men on earth.