by Betty L. Owen (Notes) on Monday, May 10, 2010 at 8:49pm
I never fully realized the challenges my parents must have had in their marriage until I had witnessed for myself the huge chasm between the North and South. (The South will rise again!)
My mother was a mountain-bred girl, and my father was born in East Texas, of a line of Tennessee and Mississippi southerners. When my father was 17 he was hired by a neighbor family (the Goodells) to escort a load of household goods that the Goodells were shipping by rail to Colorado. He was to see to the safe unloading and delivery of the goods. He rented rooms near the Mount Olivet Baptist Church; the church my mother attended. This is how North met South in our family.
When I was about 15 my dad bought a new 1936 Dodge. He wanted to drive it and our family to Texas to meet his 'roots'. Our family at the time consisted of my parents, and Alton Jr. Me, AnnElla, and Billy, who was 2 years old. This was an eye-opening trip for us, as we never before had a car that would take us beyond the borders of Colorado. My dad had become a seasoned 'semi-native' by this time. He had graduated from Colorado Aggies as a forest ranger; he knew all the best fishing creeks in the state; was an avid camper, but he never completely lost his southern tendencies.
In Texas we vistited the homes of Dad's sisters, Etta and Lela (pronounced Etter & Leler) and numerous uncles and cousins. I could write a book about 1930's southern life-styles, funny food, sanitation, or lack thereof. When, at last, we found a cousin who had inside plumbing and an electric toaster, my sister and I realized how far we had strayed from known civilization. We were SO sick of biscuits.
When I married and began to travel the country with my new military husband, we landed first in Florida where I learned some new facts about cultural differences, and in the course of time we lived in Oklahoma and Mississippi, and my education was further enhanced. Among other things, I learned how other folks fixed and ate rice, from whence comes the tale of Spotted Pup.
As you may already know (I found out by hard experience on my ocean voyage to Germany, where alll the cooks on board were native Virginians) southern people eat 'rice and gravy' for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When my mother cooked rice she cooked it in a double boiler the way she cooked oatmeal. To us Yankees, rice was cereal, and we ate it with sugar and cream. (I can almost feel my father cringing, when this dish was first put before him by his new bride!) Sometimes my mother put raisins in the rice. My dad dubbed this creation SPOTTED PUP. But he ate it. Spotted Pup became in my mind the hallmark of our family culture crises.
There were other challenges at our dinner table. Down South they really cook their vegetables. Almost to death. The greens, and there are many kinds of greens, are cooked until they are unrecognizable.
Black and slimy. . . the way my dad liked them. Mother barely steamed her spinach, and mustard greens never ever crossed the threshold of her kitchen.
Her green beans were bright and crunchy to chew, and sometimes my dad would rise up and roar,
"I cain't eat this, it's RAW! " And he really did say 'cain't' !
My mother was raised in the mountains at a very high altitude. To survive the long cold winters they lived on the root vegetables stored in the root cellar~ things like turnips, beets and parsnips. My dad probably never heard of parsnips, but he did love turnip greens. But he liked them cooked, and cooked and cooked.
I don't believe a truce was ever reached in our household, at least not while I was a member of it.
My mother redeemed herself with her 'lighter-than-air" biscuits, and her lemon meringue pies.

Betty L. Owen   Journals & Family Tales
Janie found this little pup in an antique store and thought it would enhance the telling of the tale.