October 30 '99          

Volume 178

The Tour In Fayette, AL

Editor's Artwork

If a tourist went to Paris, would he not want to see the Eiffel Tower? Would a London visitor ask to see Big Ben? Wouldn't an Elvis Presley fan visit Graceland if he were in Memphis? I imagine that in each of these cases the answer is likely a resounding yes. In the past two years, I have written one article exclusively about Golden Eagle Syrup and in a second article found a way to tie-in the famous syrup. Therefore, if I had the opportunity to be in Fayette, Alabama, would you not suppose I would try to find the place that produces my favorite table syrup, assuming you knew the syrup was made in Fayette?

I have mentioned before, the lack of feedback that is received regarding the average issue of Ridge Rider News, but the reader-response to the most recent article concerning Golden Eagle Syrup produced a written response from one reader, and two verbal responses from others. One of the verbal responses culminated in my being able to introduce a family to the wonderful flavor of Golden Eagle Syrup on biscuits. The other verbal response came from one of my neighbors in Dogwood Circle who, upon reading the article, brought over some ready-for-browning, homemade biscuits and, from a local packer, sausage patties as a house warming gift for my family to enjoy with our Golden Eagle Syrup.

On a recent business trip to Atlanta, I took a less direct route than I normally travel from Greenville. It was a spur of the moment decision that prompted me to take an Alabama county road off Highway 82 a few miles west of Reform, AL, and ride the backroads into Millport and on to Fayette. Had I thought of Fayette a few minutes earlier, while in Columbus, MS, I would have saved a few miles, a few minutes, a few tense moments of uncertainty, and would probably have had better roads by taking Highway 12 out of Columbus that leads to Fayette, AL. The good part was I was able to enjoy some beautiful country off the beaten path. The bad part about being on the county roads was the uncertainty of having enough gas to drive out to civilization in the event I got lost.

Though I had never been in Fayette, I figured somebody there could direct me to the Syrup facility. After all, the company had been there since 1928 and most folks who live there should be able to help me find the plant. Driving into the downtown area, I could see several large, old buildings and had the feeling the Golden Eagle Syrup company might be in the downtown area. One block shy of Hwy 171, I glimpsed a brick building off about a block to my right and saw the name of the company, lettered in faded paint, on the side of the building. Having gone too far to turn, I made the block, swung around front, pulled alongside the building and parked practically in their front door.

The building was smaller than I had imagined, and was, maybe, on the order of sixty by one hundred feet. The hours posted on the front door did not indicate a closed lunch hour, so at approximately a quarter of one in the afternoon, I walked inside the main entrance. Directly in front of me was a single flight of steps leading up to the main floor that was at the approximate height of a loading dock. The windows of the offices were dark and office doors were closed, but I was quickly greeted by an employee named Jack Farris. Jack welcomed me and explained the manager was at lunch, but he would be glad to show me around if I wanted to see the plant. I assured Jack I was eager to see the place that made my favorite table syrup, and as Jack explained the cooking and bottling processes, I gave a brief accounting of my love affair with Golden Eagle Syrup starting back in the fifties.

I learned that the facility has the ability to produce roughly 200 cases of the 15 oz. sized containers per run with a workday consisting of two production runs. The plant only needs about a handful of people to produce their product. Jack's job is quality control, and he makes certain the syrup mixture is kept at the correct temperature during the cooking process, and he passes final inspection on the product once the plant manager has bottled the syrup. The batch that was cooking was the second of the day, so I was able to inspect one of the still warm jars of syrup from the morning's cooking. We talked about the viscosity (resistance to flow, or thickness) and the color of the syrup. I learned that the golden syrup gets darker as it cools after being cooked. If it is allowed to stay in the vat too long, before being bottled, it will get as dark as molasses and loose it's golden color.

I asked about some syrup that I had bought early last year that seemed too thin and was not as sweet as normal. Jack said they had some leave the plant about the time I mentioned that had gotten by a former inspector in charge of quality control. After meeting with and talking to Jack, I had the impression he would not allow a similar batch to hit the retailer's shelves.

When Jack mentioned the owner of the company was considering modernizing the facility to accommodate plastic squeeze containers, I mentioned that would probably suit younger buyers, but I had gotten used to the glass jars and had no trouble cutting off the flow of syrup with a table knife. He smiled and stated that he also cut his syrup with a knife. Golden Eagle Syrup is presently bottled in glass containers of 15 oz., 30 oz., and 40 oz. sizes. I saw one worker labeling several small sampler sized containers and asked about them. Jack explained those were indeed samples and he gave me a couple to take home with me, as he pointed out the containers were plastic.

I doubt I shall ever visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I equally doubt that I shall visit Graceland in Memphis, though I have driven by Graceland on numerous occasions, but I can now boast that I have toured the Golden Eagle Syrup manufacturing facility in Fayette, AL.


Sinuses Getting Off The Pill

Back when I was in the dentist's office to have a bunch of teeth crowned, perhaps you remember my mentioning that Dr. Murhpree's wife, Vicki, sat in my room and visited a half-hour or so, talking about common interests and our similar mathematical backgrounds. It was during the same time I mentioned to Vicki that I was looking for a replacement sinus pill for the Drixoral brand I had taken for the past twenty-odd years, upon the recommendation of her husband and a prescription he gave me. I told her I had intended to ask Dr. Murphree if he knew of a prescription pill to replace the Drixoral, because the price of Drixoral had increased over the years since it had been made into an over-the-counter medication. Also, it had become increasing harder to find a cheaper generic version of the pill.

I got a recommendation from Vicki, but not what I was expecting. She suggested that I discontinue the medication and use a salt-water rinse to clean my sinuses.

"That's what my dad used to do, Vicki," I responded, "but I can't stand inhaling warm salt water into my nostrils because it runs down the back of my throat."

"If you go across the street to see Dr. McAuley or one of the specialists in that group of physicians, that's the first thing they will tell you to do for sinus troubles," Vicki stated. "You don't have to inhale the solution. They will show you how to tilt your head to the side and use a nasal aspirator to flush your sinuses."

Well, that sounded okay, but I did not think I was ready for the salt-water remedy.

"You shouldn't keep taking those sinus pills," Vicki continued, "they'll dry you up. They'll dry up everything!"

"I think that's what's wrong with me now, Vicki," I've had too many things to dry up, but let's not get any further into this conversation."

She and I both laughed at that comment.

In the days that followed my dental work, I began to consider cutting back on my sinus medication. I would leave off taking a pill for a few days until my sinuses began to bother me. Then I would take a pill for a day or two and then try leaving it off until the post-nasal drip kicked in, usually while I was in the middle of a shower. There is something about sinus running down the back of my throat that repulses me and triggers a gagging response. Over the years, I have learned to eat a saltine cracker and that seems to reduce the discomfort. It may be partly psychological, but it works for me, though it may take more than one cracker to get me over the hump.

I recall getting through July and August with very few sinus pills. September was mostly devoted to problems with kidney stones, but I don't think I had more than one pill the whole month with that one being around Labor Day. It is near the end of October as I write this article, and so far I have been pill free for the entire month.

I realize that we North Mississippi folks had an unusually long, hot, and dry summer, so it is hard for me to determine if I will be able to continue the present course much longer. High humidity has historically triggered a flow of sinuses and most of our months of winter and early spring are "rainy" ones. Wish me luck. I hope to report on my sinus condition in late spring of 2000. For now, I really can't tell if those dried up parts are going to rehydrate or not.


Halloween Degrees Of Vandalism

You will have to overlook my aversion to certain changes or else think me something of a misfit when it comes to celebrating Halloween, but this article addresses a trend among parents (notably, Baby Boomers) to forgive and often condone the irresponsible actions of their offspring.

In the early years of my marriage, I was a schoolteacher, and being a stickler for classroom discipline, my home was, at Halloween, often targeted by teens anxious to rebel against authority. Egg tossing was an outlet for some, and if you have never had the occasion to wash down a driveway or wall of your house that has been egged, then you can't really appreciate the chore. The mobile home in which we lived in Ripley, MS, was less than twenty yards off Highway 15, making it a large target for vandals. I realize a lot of parents would object to having their children referred to as vandals, but whenever a wanton act results in damage to the property of another person, however minor that damage may be, I feel the word is justifiably used. Painted exteriors of mobile homes, as well as automobiles, when subjected to the inside of an egg will, if not quickly treated, suffer permanent damage to the areas affected.

There are a lot of pleasant memories of my teaching career that I continue to cherish, but Halloween is not one of them. In fact, when I exited the ranks of teachers in 1972, I did not miss having to stand guard outside my house on Halloween to protect my property from vandalism. However, in later years, and certainly by the time my children were teens, it became a common practice for teens to vandalize another teen's home by rolling the yard with toilet paper and streaming the tissue in trees or draping it over shrubbery. Apparently, there were not enough schoolteachers in a given area to harass so someone thought up rolling a friend's yard. By the mid-eighties, rolling the yard of a teenager was considered as symbolic of a teen's acceptance by his or her peers. Believe me, my children were well accepted by their peers.

If the immature actions of teens were to be translated into adult actions, I suppose the practice of rolling a friend's yard on Halloween would be replaced with adults driving by a friend's house and tossing a rock through a window. The next day, the window-bashers could call up their friends and tell them how much fun they had breaking windows in the homes of their friends, and the homeowner whose window was broken could relate how good it felt to be accepted in the community.

Farcical? Perhaps. What do you think? Are we ready for such adult nonsense? What is the difference in the actions of the teens and the actions of the adults? Do not both convey a sign of disrespect for the property of another person? Certainly, there is a difference in the degree of the severity of the actions and possibly with regard to the costs of cleanup and repair, but otherwise window bashing and toilet tissue rolling are not that far apart with respect to vandalism. I'm no expert on human nature, but I have the feeling those parents who feel that rolling a yard is harmless fun for their youngsters would not take kindly to having a rock tossed through one of their windows.

I would be especially interested to find out how the wife of one of the past pastors of First Baptist Church, Pontotoc might feel about such an action. I've a hunch her lawyer husband might sue you for damages if you tossed a rock through their window to express your acceptance of them as "being in the in crowd." On at least one Halloween night, that church lady actually took the family van and drove her teenaged daughters and other teens to "roll" the homes of teachers and friends. She considered it all harmless fun, plus it was a means for her to keep her children "under wing" on Halloween. Personally, I deplored her actions and felt hers a bad example in parenting.

In the nineties, the yard rolling "trick" has escalated from a one night a year event to the point where yard rolling begins in early October and may last well into November. It is more than obvious that most parents do not know what their children are doing at night.

Since my children have long been graduated from high school, Halloween is a lot more pleasant. These days, I only worry about having enough favors for the children who come around asking, "Trick or Treat?" For the future of Halloween, it is my hope that once the generation of Baby Boomers dies off their grandchildren will have gone full circle from the present "boomers" and forsaken the notion that their children can do no wrong.


Christmas '99 Memory Time Is Here

A number of readers have, over the past three years, been kind enough to contribute a memory from an earlier Christmas. Most of the memories dear to this writer's past Christmases have been published. There have been several additions to the readership of RRN over the past year and the editor expects to receive a Christmas memory from several of these new subscribers, both Internet and U.S. Mail. Additionally, all readers are encouraged to submit a memory.

Based on my appreciation and enjoyment of the memories contributed, in the past, I believe I can express the sentiment of others who have also enjoyed reading memories contributed by subscribers.

Depending on the number of memories received, Christmas memories will begin to appear with the first issue in December and continue for the remainder of the month.

In anticipation of not every contributor waiting until the last minute to submit an article, the deadline is hereby set as December 4. Start writing your memory today. Don't depend on a reminder every week, because there will be only one other published noticed. The editor does not intend to badger the readership.

Bodock Beau Letter From Home
Beau thanks Becky Donovan for the following story, and notes good old humor is still good.

Dear Son,

I am writing this slow 'cause I know you can't read fast. We don't live where we did when you left. Your dad read in the paper where most accidents happen within 20 miles of home, so we moved. I won't be able to send you the address as the last West Virginia family that lived here took the numbers with them for their next house so they wouldn't have to change their address.

The place has a washing machine. The first day, I put four shirts in. I pulled the chain and haven't seen 'em since! It only rained twice this week, 3 days the first time and 4 days the second time. The coat you wanted me to send you, your Aunt Sue said it would be too heavy to send in the mail with them heavy buttons. So, we cut them off and put 'em in the pocket.

We got a bill from the funeral home; said if we don't pay the last payment on Grandma's funeral bill, she comes up. About your Dad, he has a new job. He has over 300 people under him. He is cutting the grass at the cemetery. Your sister had a baby this

morning. I haven't found out yet if it's a boy or girl, so I don't know if you're an aunt or an uncle.

Your Uncle John fell in the whiskey vat. Some men tried to pull him out, but he fought 'em off and drowned. We cremated him. He burned for three days. Three of your friends went off the bridge in a pickup truck. One was driving; the other two were in the back. The driver got out; he rolled down the window and swam to safety. The other two drowned. They couldn't get the tailgate down.

Not much news this time, nothing much has happened. Love, Mom.

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