Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Columnists

March 31, 2012

An Ode to Butterbeans, perhaps?

AMERICUS — At a time when our nation is in deep financial stress, when we are at war in a couple of foreign rock quarries and may be considering a third, when gas prices are sky high and the current edition of “American Idol” is in the short rows, I never thought that just a passing remark that I once had butterbeans for breakfast would have generated so much return mail.

And I think this is a good thing because worrying about things we apparently have no control over can cause considerable mental stress. On the other hand, we do have control over butterbeans.

One person responding said having butterbeans for breakfast sounded disgusting. Another said he had never tried them at that time of day but he always held out his options on matters of such magnitude. One said he had eaten cold pizza for breakfast and another said he had eaten cold fried chicken. One said he had been known to eat cold fried fish for breakfast.

I would not want anyone to think that this is common for me. It happened a long time ago. I helped a fellow unload a barn of cured tobacco. We started at  4 a.m. and finished about 6:30 a.m. His wife was going to fix us breakfast but she had some kind of emergency and had to leave.

So we went to his house to see what we could come up with in short order. There were leftover speckled butterbeans, cornbread and boiled okra from the night before. And so that became breakfast. I guess we were kind of like the Marines. “We improvised, and we overcame.” Hoowah!

I think little events like that can sometimes help put life into perspective, especially in an election year when we are promised a “chicken in every pot.” Or maybe during a period when we might expect hard times to get a bit harder.

I’ve often wondered just how our eating regimens got started. Who decided that the first meal of the day should be about the egg instead of the chicken? Who decided that oatmeal is even food? I contend it’s what you get when nature biodegrades a shoe box.

One responder said he often had breakfast food for supper. Grits, sausage and eggs. Well, me too. And that doesn’t sound weird at all.

One of my many jobs while working my way through college was loading trucks most of the night. At 4 a.m. I often found myself at a Krystal’s eating six or seven of those little square hamburgers and a bowl of chili. That sounded really weird to some of those kids whose parents were paying their way through college. Needless to say, my circumstances pretty much determined I would not be a member of any upscale fraternity. Instead, I was a member of the “Yabba Dabba Doo.” We met at Ruby Reds in Underground Atlanta on Friday nights, and you didn’t have to be approved to be a member, nor did we have a secret handshake. We also didn’t wear blazers, smoke pipes and wear ascots. The best I could figure, an ascot was designed to keep Cheetos crumbs from going down inside your shirt.

Now since those days, I have not had butterbeans or chili for breakfast.  But it’s not because I think it’s disgusting, and I will not say “never again.” Circumstances just haven’t presented themselves in that venue where I would take the road less traveled.

Also, I never felt deprived that I had to work my way through college. In fact, in retrospect, I think it was to my advantage. And it was a big plus in Philosophy 101 when the instructor asked that proverbial philosophical question, “Who am I and what am I doing here? Also, it allowed me to determine which wine went best with macaroni and cheese, and subsequently, butterbeans.

Maybe I should write an “Ode to Butterbeans.” Tom T. Hall once wrote “Ode To A Half Pound of Ground Round.”

Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. Email:

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