Sparkle City Summers
My childhood summers were spent gallivanting around the small yet interesting town of Spartanburg, SC, referred to by many residents as Sparkle City. It is a small place, yet a big town full of aspiring hopes and dreams! As a young child, I didn’t see much that sparkled there. Our most popular spot was and still is “The Beacon,” owned by the legendary Mr. John White. Hands down, the best restaurant in town! Offering a selection of chili cheeseburgers , slaw dogs and onion rings that would make your neighbors “come calling” and a host of other calorie filled, cholesterol laced cuisine.
It is here that I blossomed into a woman., Building go carts, chasing lightning bugs, fighting mosquitoes and dealing with summer crushes on the neighborhood boys. All of whom seemed to turn into Denzel Washington after just two summers!
I sat on my great grandmother’s porch and “spat” watermelon seeds, made irresistible mud pies and listened to grown folks talk. It is here I learned about my heritage, my elders, the ghosts of the family whom I never met. I found out through humorous, yet true, tales that one of my great aunts once stopped a train in Hamburg. One of my great uncles was blind in one eye, yet smart enough to calculate any amount of numbers with no calculator and I had a cousin who sang the blues on the “Chitlin Circuit! The stories just kept coming!
I listened and laughed with intensity wondering how many family members, like myself, had no knowledge of “from whence they came.” It was around this time that God gave me the gift of writing, so I quickly put it to use, determined to leave something tangible for the younger members of the family.
Hence my first book, “Reflections of Self” came about, filled with poetry and short stories from the Tucker Purry’s family tree. After the first printing of this book, I watched in awe and satisfaction at family members and friends who laughed until “their bellies hurt” at the tales spun from front porch conversations and family reunion gatherings.
Soon after, I decided that what better to go with front porch blues and a mason jar of homemade lemonade then a piece of apple cobbler!…so my gathering of recipes begin. I must admit that many of the chefs in the family did not take kindly to me publishing their ancient secrets. However as time went on, they were grateful to have a written record they could refer to once the memories became cloudy.
“Hot Water Cornbread” is now an heirloom in my family as well as a favorite among my friends and fans. I receive emails from people who have tried the recipes thanking me for bringing a little southern comfort to their hearts and a taste of home to their belly.
Even though my days of mauling around Sparkle City are over, my writing isn’t finished. I shall forever engrave my lineage and history upon pages. Burning the midnight oil and letting the ghosts of my ancestors guide my pen. I do not ever want to forget “from whence I came,” it has made me the fabulous woman, author, and poet that I am. Now I know what sparkles from the small town of Spartanburg SC! It is the hidden gems of history, heritage and the people who still sit on their front porches drinking homemade lemonade and weaving tales about ancestors long past. The glow of love and laughter is always present and a piece of apple cobbler is always within reach!
Hence Memorial Day arrived this weekend and Summer is officially here, my memories of summer are vivid. Heres to the golden days..
We count mosquito bites
Hide and seek behind trees
Dodge sun rays and rain showers
Catch fireflies and butterflies
Beat dusty paths
Aunt Maggie’s rugs with brooms
Hang linen and britches
Visit church tombs
Eat sweet molasses
Pour Mason jar lemonade
Warm ice tea
Lie under Magnolia trees
Counting clouds up above
Waiting for July 4th to bring
And new summer loves
Peace, Love & Empowerment