Pearl, TX


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3. Supper

FIVE HOURS LATER, the girls said their goodbyes on the Valley’s porch. Just as she  was about to leave, Ivy remembered: supper!

    “Oh, wait! Mrs. Valley! My mother’s making fried chicken and pie, y’all are welcome to come over!”

    “Oh, Ivy, dear! That’d be lovely! I’m afraid I can’t make it, but I’m sure the girls can! Ah, when should they head over?”

    “Oh, um, I guess six maybe.”

    “Alright! Thanks, hon. Tell your mama I truly am sorry to miss out on that pie.”

    “Yes, ma’am."

IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T BEEN to a Saturday night supper at the Sycamore house, I will gladly explain one to you. You see, the Sycamore family isn’t limited to Charlie, Ivy, and their parents. 

    Those four people lived in one house, but Ivy’s father’s parents lived next door in a big white farmhouse, and on the other side, were Ivy’s cousins, the Whitleys, in their mint green house. Every first Saturday of the month, practically the entire street comes to the Sycamore grandparents house for a big dinner. 

    Once all of the friends and family members settled down at the long picnic table for dinner, between the eighteen guests, there was fried chicken, meat loaf, thick gravy, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, corn, tomatoes, fried okra, toast, green beans, mac and cheese, fried onions, cornbread, fruit salad, ambrosia, iced tea, lemonade, coffee, and water. And that wasn’t even including dessert!

    The food was passed around the table and everyone took good portions of most everything— the inhabitants of Pearl Texas sure did know how to put on a good meal. 

    By the time everyone had a full (and more) plate of goodness, it was nearly 6:30! Grandpa Gus raised his glass of Arnold Palmer and cleared his throat. His deep, charming voice was so comforting to hear. The old man was like your typical feel-good Grandfather, with thick glasses, flannel shirts, and plenty of stories. “May I have y’all’s attention, please?”

    The crowd quieted.

    “Thank you so much for joinin us this evening for my favorite night of the month, the Sycamore-Whitley and friends family supper. I’m so happy that ev’ry month we can all gather and eat some great food together again. Now, I’m gonna pray so we can get to eatin’!” Everyone chuckled and closed their eyes.

    “Father, thank you for this peaceful evening tonight with all of these wonderful people. Thank you for the hands that made this scrumptious food so it’ll warm our hungry bellies. I pray you’ll bless us with good health and conversation so that we can continue to have these gatherings. In your son’s name, Amen. Now let’s eat!”

    For five solid minutes, no one said a word. They just ate. 

    Finally, the semi-silence was broken with Ivy’s aunt, Violet Whitley’s voice. 

    “Mmm, Alice, this ham is scrumptious!”

    “Oh, thank you, Violet! I used some of Miss Gatlin’s honey, it’s heavenly!”

    “Yeah, I heard she was selling that. Heard it was expensive, too!” She chuckled, and ate another big bite.

    “Oh, it’s not too bad. Makes great ham!”

    Violet’s brother-in-law piped up. 

    “How is that Maggie Gatlin? I heard she’s in the runnin’ for Pearl Queen this year. She’s awful pretty, I’m sure she’ll win!”

    “She’s single, too, Kirk!” Violet said, making him blush. “But seriously, you should ask her out! I’m sure she’d love to go to get some coffee of somethin’ with you!”

    “Naw, don’t say such silly things. I heard Martin Crawford’s planning to take her to the spring ball. Wouldn’t wanna break that up.”

    “Uncle Kirk, I think you’re much more handsome than Mr. Crawford!” Ivy added. 

    “Ivy, you’re sweet, but I don’t think so. Hey, did y’all hear about the sale at the automobile shop? Two free tires if you buy one!” He awkwardly changed the subject.

    The adults went onto talking about how exciting the sale was, and the three girls continued to talk about the Maggie Gatlin situation.

    “Ivy, what if they got married? Can you imagine having Maggie Gatlin as a relative?” Luna asked.

    Maggie Gatlin was the most beautiful woman in the town. She had red wavy hair like a fire, blue eyes like clear waters, and freckles like stars in the night sky. She was considered perfect to the young girls. 

    “Oh, it’d be great. I just don’t understand why Uncle Kirk won’t ask her out. I mean, he’s handsome, nice, AND a good farmer!”

    “Yeah! What girl wouldn’t want to go out with him?” Lilly said.

    She then gasped, and her eyes got really big.

    The girls looked at her in concern. “What? What is it?”

    “We could get them together! Oh, I’ve always wanted to play matchmaker!”

    The three girls practically squealed in delight. Operation Aunt Maggie was now a go. 

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