Mother’s Day will be here soon and I want to tell you a story about my mom, but before I tell the story, here’s a little introduction. You’ve gotten to know her in articles titled Know Your Mother, Nine Great Tips on How to Have a King Cake Party, and most recently in my post titled Funky Easter Bonnet and Creole Cream Cheese. In that latest article, I said she liked the colors red, white, and blue because they were sailor-ish. To my delight, in a recent conversation with Mom, she confirmed this once again. Upon telling her that I had posted an old photo of my brother and me on the internet…me in that red, white, and blue dress, she responded to my satisfaction with, “Oh, I remember that dress, it was sailor-ish.”
The following story took place on a Public Service Bus in New Orleans and serves to illustrate my mother’s kindness to strangers.
My mother doesn’t drive a car because she says it makes her too nervous, and it wasn’t all that uncommon for housewives of her generation not to drive. When my brother and I were kids and she wanted to go somewhere she would get us ready and we would take the Public Service Bus, most often heading to Canal Street to shop. Canal Street was lined with dime stores and department stores; some of them quite up-scale and elegant. Mom would do her shopping, take us out to eat at a lunch counter, and perhaps take us to the show (for the uninitiated it means she took us to see a movie). Those days are gone with the wind as the famous street is now bursting with T-shirt shops and purse snatchers.
Sometimes Mom would insist that my brother and I say the rosary on the way to town. This was a Catholic thing to do and it helped to keep us busy on the 30 minute bus ride to Canal Street. But I was busy enough with thoughts of anxiety without having to say ten Hail Mary’s and one Our Father.
I hated riding the bus, particularly after they became air conditioned. The air was stuffy, the people were stinky, and I would get nervousness sickness. I cannot tell you how many times I plotted my escape from a Public Service Bus. My imagination would go wild with visions of ringing the pull cord to alert the driver that I needed to exit the bus because I was sick. This never happened, but I contemplated it many times. Oh! How I preferred the old buses that had windows you could open for fresh air!
On one particular outing, my mom, brother and I boarded the bus and paid our 10 cent fare. We looked for a seat and headed to the rear of the bus. We were the only white people sitting in the back of the bus at the time and my mom was the only person who seemed to care about the black man who was laying on the floor with a cut on his head. She leaned over to him and asked him if he was okay. I remember her calling out to the bus driver about the man on the floor. Here, my recollection of what transpired next is a bit fuzzy, but as I recall, the bus driver ignored her and no one responded at all. My mother was the only person on the bus who seemed to be concerned for this man’s welfare. As for as I remember, he just lied there until we exited the bus at our stop.
To this day, I’ve wondered if the people on the bus all thought the man was drunk and that’s why they were indifferent.
Mom loves Homemade Peach Ice Cream and in honor of Mother’s Day, I’m sharing this recipe. It’s a New Orleans favorite taken from NOPSI’s Cookbook, From Woodstoves to Microwaves. NOPSI stands for New Orleans Public Service, the electric company that ran the buses. Many of the recipes in the book were originally included in customer’s bills or published in the Rider’s Digest, a pamphlet that passenger’s read while traveling on the bus.
Peach Ice Cream
- 6 eggs
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) evaporated milk
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 packages (10 ounces each) frozen peaches or 4 cups mashed, fresh sweetened peaches
- 1 1/2 quarts milk, scalded
- 1 can (15 ounces) condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
Combine eggs, sugar and salt; gradually stir in scalded milk. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens or coats spoon (about 20 minutes). Chill thoroughly. Add vanilla, evaporated and condensed milk; mix well. Stir in peaches. Freeze in electric ice cream freezer (about 25 minutes). Yield: 1 gallon.