Those Who Live in Glass Houses

 

I indulged in gluttony in front of my loved ones at a funeral lunch and I was ashamed. But not sorry.

When I entered the hall and scanned the tables heaped with an abundance of appealing homemade food, my youngest grandchildren had already grabbed a soft drink, piled chips on top of their fried chicken and headed toward the dessert table.

I smiled at their self-indulgent choices and complimented myself on my healthy selections. Then I neared the salad section and saw several shimmering, sugary Jell-O salads: red, green, and orange Jell-O; Jell-O containing bananas, grapes, raspberries, and pineapple; Jell-O with nuts, cream cheese and whipped cream blended in or spread on top; mouth-watering salads with nary a vegetable lurking in their soft, creamy depths.

I picked up an extra plate.

Despite my funereal fall from grace, I eat healthy foods most of the time. But I remember fondly the foods I yearned for as a child in the fifties, foods much like those my young loved ones crave today.

I used to spend the pennies, nickels and dimes I earned doing extra chores for my mother on anything sugared and frozen on a stick, especially blueberry popsicles that dyed my mouth an alarming fluorescent blue. I also liked orange and white dreamsicles and chocolate-covered milk nickels. But I never bought fudgsicles..

I quit eating the chocolate treats when Dad bought one for everybody in the car. Those of us in the backseat whooped with appreciation, but Mom took one bite, said it tasted like brown chalk and tossed the remains out the window. Dad yelped, “Hide ‘em, kids, or she’ll get yours too,” but I sided with Mom and threw mine away. Carolyn called me a copycat; Bob said I was too stupid to be in third grade.

Like today’s teenagers, I craved soft drinks of any sort, spending far too much of my babysitting and fruit-picking money at the Arctic Circle trying to decide between lemon lime and orange. I routinely convinced my younger sister Barbara to trade tastes. I would take a generous swallow of hers then say she couldn’t taste mine because I didn’t want her cooties. I also accepted dates with young men I didn’t care for because I hoped the A&W would be on the itinerary.

Raised in a home where caffeine in any form was frowned upon, I didn’t discover cola drinks until later in life. But I‘ll never forget the illicit thrill that ran through me when I was ten and told Mrs. Tucker how much I liked the birthday cake she’d made for her daughter’s party. Mrs. Tucker thanked me and said that cherry cola cake was her family’s favorite. I ate two pieces and walked home convinced I was drunk.

So today, when I notice young people inhaling chips, soft drink, candy and ice cream, I keep quiet about their poor choices and my longing for Jell-O salad with bananas and whipped cream.

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53 thoughts on “Those Who Live in Glass Houses

  1. When I was in grade school I rode my bicycle a little over a mile each way. On the way home, I would stop at a little grocer a few blocks from home and spend a nickel on a vanilla ice cream cup with swirls of orange throughout. (It came with a wooden spoon.) What a treat! To this day, I sometimes make an orange float. It reminds me still of the thrill of those ice cream cups. I agree. Let the kids make their own food memories. They can afford to when they are young. Thanks for the memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had forgotten about those little ice cream cups, Laurel, and their little wooden spoons. I loved the ice cream, hated the spoons. I didn’t like the feel of them in my mouth. For the same reason, I never licked a popsicle stick, nibbling the frozen treat off instead.

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  2. I read an article on Medium written by a Millennial (this was important to the writer) who was a self-proclaimed “foodie.” She wrote about the gelatin molds of the 1970s, stuff I never saw and would not have eaten if I’d ever seen it, like Tuna Celery Gelatin Mold and Ham Pimento Mold and some other things… I thought, “Just because it’s in a cookbook, doesn’t mean anyone cooked it — look what’s in cookbooks today? Do you SEE that stuff? No! It didn’t make the cut!” It never occurred to me that Jell-o desserts and salad had gone the way of the dinosaur until for Christmas dinner a couple years ago I made my Aunt Martha’s red/green/white molded salad (lime jello + pineapple; raspberry jello + cranberries; cream cheese and walnuts) and everyone at the table was surprised and kind of laughed at it then said, “It’s good!” in surprise.

    I don’t get out much. 🙂

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    • Oh, Martha, the thought of eating the salads the Millennial (with a capital M) extolled made me queasy; but Aunt Martha’s would have surprised and delighted me as well. I think Jell-O fruit salads and desserts are still made in Utah and, I learned at the funeral lunch, in parts of the midwest. I’m hoping some of my readers will weigh in on the presence of Jell-O treats in their neck of the woods.

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      • Oh the Millennial thought those gelatin dishes were gross (and she made them!) but she also thought it’s what we all ate and therefore we were gross. I wrote a scathing response that I never published. I have no idea in my historical fiction if I’m making the same kind of mistakes, but, in her case, there are people around she could have ASKED. I’m pretty sure they’re still made in Monte Vista though I’ve not been to an event where I would expect to see them.

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  3. Nothing tastes as good as forbidden food. So-called “Funeral Food” contains everything we probably shouldn’t eat on a healthy diet. People bring out all the old childhood recipes which comforted them while growing up. Food often recalls pleasanter times. I always went for the fudgsicles! You could have tossed them my way. I really never got to have them so they were a real treat. As for the Jello-concoctions, a holiday dinner would not have been complete without them.

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    • We were raised the same way, Martha. I remember Jell-O dishes for holiday meals, birthday dinners, and often for Sunday dinners, which, as you say, explains my continuing fondness for them and for their presence at funeral meals.

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    • I love the idea of funeral food , being another way to share memories. In Sydney Australia, most of the funeral I’ve been to have been catered events. It might be different in smaller towns.

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    • It sounds wonderful, Gail. Have you published it on your blog? I’d like to have at least the pleasure of reading the recipe, daydreaming about making it, and perhaps even doing so.

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  4. On a hot day as a kid, I might have given my left arm for a fudge sickle. We rarely got them, so they were a huge treat. I think we got them from the Ice Cream man, whose very presence, let alone the music, cheered the neighborhood. It was rare we were allowed to buy something from him, however.

    I recall the vanilla ice cream/orange sherbet in a cup, with a wooden spoon, at school, but we didn’t buy “hot lunch” so those were more rare. I brought my own lunch and ate peanut butter and jelly on Roman Meal bread. I was a skinny kid.

    Jello was pretty much for holiday dinners and when we were sick. I recall mom giving me red jello which I “tossed” all over the bedroom floor once when I had the stomach flu. I think that was the end of red jello for a very long time. Did I mention I never buy jello? 😉

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  5. If the worst thing you ate was some fancy Jello salads, I think you’ll be OK, Janet. My mother liked Creamsicles. I did like Fudesicles but we usually settled for Popsicles or Nutty Buddies. I remember staring into the chilled-water cooler trying to decide what flavor of pop to choose.

    Thanks for the many memory jogs.

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  6. I popped in again Aunt Beulah
    I haven’t come up for air since returning to work, my mornings of coffee and perusing the daily newspaper are done and dusted. I haven’t picked up a novel in months and WP has sat idle on my screen saver, long enough for me to forget my password, I had logged out last visit and the dozen different passwords I tried were incorrect, Grrrrr!!!! what was that password???
    Nup’, can’t remember for the life of me so I have to create another..

    So I’m back for your latest story and as I suspected an instant connection and the pictures of jelly food brings back memories of my first attempts at making desserts for tupperware parties way back in the sixties. In fact I often used tupperware that came in all shapes and sizes to mould them for want of a better word.
    Funerals are up for discussion again, this time food is the agenda and it is always an appropriate time to offer comfort food or old favourite recipes. It is interesting though that in a day and age of health foods we give ourselves permission to eat the comfort food, after all it is a funeral and we need comforting.
    You only have to say the word icecream and you have my attention..lollies and I’m there..Mr Whippy was the most popular man in Australia..he drove a bizarre looking van with a large icecream cone sticking out the top of it, we could hear him coming a mile away as the van had a type of megaphone attached and played a very catchy tune…every kid no matter what they were doing knew this tune, dropped everything they were doing and begged Mum’s and Dad’s to raid the piggy bank for a Mr Whippy icecream.
    My fondest memory of coca cola was called a float’n’coke….a very large tall glass with a scoop of vanilla icecream in first, followed by coca cola until the icecream floated to the top. This created a fizzing bubbling infusion of coke and vanilla icecream, it had me addicted from the age of 6 to let’s see, Mmmm!? 26…then I discovered I preferred the bubbles in champagne more.
    I must fess up though, I can’t wait for Grandie days, my grandchildren have introduced me to all sorts of unhealthy blissful treats, so no glass houses for me Aunt Beulah…this was a yummy story indeed, well worth coming up with another password
    My gosh! Look at the novel I have written, I just can’t seem to make a small comment on your stories..
    You always take me on a trip down memory lane, THANKYOU!
    Love and hugs always
    From
    Annie in Australia 🌴🌞🌊💕💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • What wonderful memories you shared with me and my readers, Annie, not to mention your troubles with your WP password. I hate passwords. Period.
      I had forgotten that jello treats were standard fare at tupperware parties and that I once owned a tupperware jello mold. One of us should write a blog post about those parties.
      Mr. Whippy sounds like a wonderful childhood tradition. The small town where I now live has an ice cream truck which plays Jingle Bells and I Wish You a Merry Christmas, which seems a tad strange when its 90 degrees outside.
      Your coke ‘n float was my root beer float, and I just served them to two of my siblings and their family members when they spent a weekend with me. A grand time was had by all.
      I’m glad my blog was worth coming up with another password, and, please, never apologize for your novels. Love you. Janet

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  7. Childhood party-tables groaned with desserts similar to those described in your post and the comments. Trifles is another I remember although we tend to see these regularly today but the jellies with fruit was a lovely memory. 🙂 Linda

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  8. As you might have guessed, Janet, here in Utah jello desserts are still popular.
    I, however, never went for the jello confections. Although they have plenty of sugar, those jello creations didn’t have chocolate! I’m still a chocoholic and I eat chocolate—and really almost any cake, candy, or cookie—as often as I can.
    Most millennials I know don’t have nearly the taste for sweets that I do!

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    • That’s interesting, Rita, my older grandchildren seem less addicted to desserts and sweets than the younger one and folks of my generation. Growing up, we usually had dessert of some sort for dinner, even if it was a jar of Mom’s wonderful home canned peaches. But our daughters serve dessert only on special occasions.

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      • Yes, Janet, I’ve also noticed that dessert no longer accompanies every meal for the younger generations.
        My grandmother and great aunts had pie or cake for dessert almost every evening and all seven of them lived to be at least 95 years old.
        And so I baked a fresh peach pie for dessert last night!

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      • With your reassurance and the example of your long-lived ancestors, I believe I’ll make a fresh rhubarb pie this weekend. My rhubarb is finally ready for some harvesting to happen.

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  9. The church I attend has aging members with strong memories of their mothers’, grandmothers’, and aunts’ cooking. We’re folks who hand down recipes. The Presbyterians are the same way — I’d guess that all the folks in our small town are like that. Any church function involving food is sure to have a collection of Jello salads in a array of colors and with an array of additions. Celery, carrots, nuts, cream cheese, cottage cheese, fruit…. Hardly even bad for you, with all that added nutrition!

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    • Thank you for finding my blog and letting me know you understand the wonderful selection of jello salads found at small-town affairs. I appreciate hearing from you. I’ll visit your blog soon.

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  10. I marvel at the gelatin molds, which I always flub up when I try them. Jello was a mainstay dessert at my childhood home, usually with fruit mixed into it. Caffeinated drinks were found in the kitchen but never soda pop. I was strictly a Koolaid kid.

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    • I, too, drank lots of Koolaid. My 4-H teacher said it was nothing but food dye, artificial flavoring and sugar mixed with water and quite poisonous, but she also said my bookshelf hadn’t been sanded enough when I was quite sure it had.

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  11. Awesome creative jellies and what a great idea for a funeral lunch! I still have a glass jelly mold of my grandmothers that I’m too scared to use, in case I break it. At school I loved “jelly and mousse” with raspberry jelly & the mousse on top was made from whipped evaporated milk. Yum!

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    • Maddy, I, too, have treasure pieces I don’t use for fear of breaking them, though I know the common-sense ancestors I got them from would tell me to not be silly and go ahead and use them. Jelly and mousse sounds quite delightful.

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  12. The Jello Salad is true American Culinary Art, not just in a scratched up plastic bowl anymore. At my age, I enjoy all, in moderation, coffee is a food group. Cheers my dear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I, too, think the best eating advice is to eat everything in moderation, and that’s what I strive to do. And thank you for reassuring me that coffee is a food group. I always thought it might be. It always makes me happy when you drop by, Sheila.

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