Two ladies worked there. Their names were Angie and Opal. I remember them to this day. They were bright-eyed with wide smiles and wore uniforms with aprons starched almost to paper. These two ladies always filled Miss E’s table with a feast, serving up fried chicken, greens shimmering with pork and sweet pickle potato salad on the most delicate china you can imagine.
Miss E was the most gracious of hosts, trying to talk us all into a second piece of caramel cake. She was childlike in her delight of serving us from the head of the table, like she was pouring invisible tea to a teddy bear in the back garden.
The people around the table were always a mixed bag of tricks. There were sometimes doctors’ wives, sometimes teachers or bankers. Preachers rubbed elbows with actors and artists. College students, octogenarians and Bohemians — there was never any telling about who’d be seated around Miss E’s table.
She was a conversationalist of consummate skill. She was genuinely interested in our histories, and loved for us to tell stories about our adventures. You see, Miss E didn’t leave the house much. She’d say, “Lynne, tell them that story about the little red dog in New York.” Well, Lynne would tell her story and we’d all laugh.
And she’d say, “Mimi, tell them about the ‘Pirates of Penzance’!” (This is a memory that lives in infamy — I was on stage, playing one of Mabel’s mewling sisters and during the middle of the dance number, just before intermission, the old elastic on my rented petticoat gave up the ghost and released a mound of lace around my ankles. I kicked it into the orchestra pit. Miss E loved that story.)
There was no topic off the table at Miss E’s. As a young person, I was treated to tales of love, war, loss, beauty, hilarity and most certainly, the weather.
But the one thing we didn’t talk about at the table was politics. Looking back, I think Miss E was right.
I’m on Facebook, like a billion other people. Sure, I know they’re tracking my online movement to sell to marketers. And I know that I’m involved in the largest social experiment of all time, but I love connecting with my friends and looking at photos of their grandkids and vacations. And what they had for breakfast. Inane stuff. But I’ve also seen some photos showing people standing together in the aftermath of a hurricane. Inspiring stuff.
But over the past two months, I’ve been noticing a trend. There’s been political stuff. When the presidential race got started, I started seeing single-sentence sound bytes and clever quips from historical characters and movie stars. Over time, as the political race progressed, the posts started getting snippier, using words like “lazy, and cruel, and small-minded” when they described the people on the other side, and “courageous, strong, and smart” when describing the people on their own sides. The insults flew fast and furious. It was more than a brisk debate — they were hurling politico insults like live grenades.
So, finally the election came and went. On the day after, I was actually looking forward to visiting Facebook and seeing the regularly scheduled program of grandkid photos, cute kitten videos and YouTube clips of strangers falling on their tails.
I was right. Facebook was back to normal. Once again, the dewy-eyed kittens gazed from baskets. But there was still some political action going on and, I’m sad to report, quite a few bad-sport gloaters, as well as sore losers.
But I also noticed there were posts from people who spoke about being proud to wait two hours in line, in the rain, to vote. About people who were glad they lived in a place where everyone had a right to an opinion. I finally found two posts that I’d like to share with you. These people were on opposite side of the fence, but they shared the very same sentiment.
A good friend from the Left side posted, “On this day I am proud to announce that all of my Facebook friends have been appropriate in their posts, have expressed their feelings constructively and have been INVOLVED in the future of our country. ... So, now the work begins ... not for one person, but for many. Because we live in a democratic country and so if our country fails it is not one person’s fault but it is all of our fault. We all either contribute to the problem or the solution. The best way to make change is to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what have we done to make our world better!!”
And from the Right side, another good friend posted, “It’s called respect, for one another, our country and the office of the President. I personally wanted a different outcome, but we need to come back together as a nation.”
Finally, I saw a quote from Thomas Jefferson.
“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
I agree with Mr. Jefferson, and I think Miss E would have too.
Gentry, a Carroll County resident, writes a weekly column for the Times-Georgian.