I just can't deny it.

I've been around a long time; I've seen and remember a lot of things. All you have to do is jog my memory.

The other day I was in Montgomery and went to Maxwell Field. Anytime we go to places such as Maxwell and my daughter-in-law is with me chances are very good we will wind up at the thrift store.

The thrift store is a lose-lose situation. We carry a big bag of items and donate them and while we are there we buy a big bagful.

Generally, the first place I go to is the book section and slowly look at the novels while Tammy looks at every other item in the store; she doesn't miss a thing.

The other day while looking at the books I came across one titled “Being dead ain't no excuse,” which was part novel and part cookbook.

After a quick thumb through the pages I was sure it would be something I would enjoy because it brought back memories of all the funerals I've attended here in central Alabama in an area called Herd Street. The Herd Street area covered the three or four blocks around us: Herd, Scott, John, Cliff and part of South Duboise.

Funerals were very important as I grew up and still are in the community I live in now. Everybody wanted to be a part of it in some way. People would gather at the house of the deceased. The men would cut and stack stove wood whether it was needed or not; if the family already had plenty of wood, the men still cut wood.

The women cooked and brought food. Almost every woman was known for some dish.

Jeannine Woodall would bring two or three things but always brought roasted pecans.

Ruby Butts brought dry butter beans. Some brought coconut cakes.

There was always a coconut cake. It wouldn't be a decent death without a cake.

Almost immediately everything would be cleared out and some woman would take charge of who brought what. In would come covered dishes, finger foods and desserts of all kinds. The women would cook and bring their best. Most had a name tag because they used their best plates and bowls. Fried chicken and more fried chicken, cornbread and biscuits everywhere.

No paper plates until many years later.

There was always one woman at the sink to see there were no dirty dishes.

It was the men's job to set up with the coffin in the living room and they would take shifts. The most people had to sit was two nights.

I guess they were afraid the dead person would get up and leave because they were never left alone.

Nowadays we do the same thing at our church we used to do the dead person’s house.

My mama had funny ways and didn't eat just anybody's cooking, so she would come around and whisper to her younguns what we could eat and what to leave alone.

You didn't say anything but good things about the dead person; I don't care what kind of life they had lived, bless their heart.

Now after the funeral was over, kinfolks and close friends met back at the house and stayed and ate until they had done away with most of the food. You may come to that house for Mother's Day, Easter, or Fourth of July but you ain't never ate quite as good as at a funeral.

I remember the potato salad; some yellow with mustard the other white with mayonnaise. Stuffed eggs — you didn't call them deviled eggs at a funeral, it maybe sinful. Chicken salad, pimento cheese, and it must be homemade, homemade mayonnaise and any kind of dessert you could think of.

One time a man brought a bunch of barbecue ribs and you've got to remember the people wore their best clothes because that is the way you respect the dead.

May I warn you once again to never eat barbecue or anything with ketchup on it if you have on dress clothes or a white shirt or blouse.

Now a funeral is a sad occasion but the body is in the parlor or living room. Back in the kitchen, on the back porch or in the yard is where you go if you want to laugh, spit or smoke; it is only good manners.

Before you leave young or old find the nearest kin and tell them how sorry you are he or she has passed away.

That is about all you have to do except go home and wait and someone will bring your plate or bowl home if you put a tag on it.

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