I looked into the first pot and found fresh green beans and new potatoes cooked to perfection. One taste told me they were seasoned with a hunk of salt pork just like momma used to make. The next pot had some lumpy white conglomeration in green broth, I gently put the lid back on. I couldn't tell what it was. That was an interesting year.
The old boards over the saw horses were bowed down with a bounty only found in the Kentucky hills.The smells that wafted through the valley on Homecoming Sunday, would bring negligent church goers in from all over the county, some would say from three counties.
Grandma McClanahan made homemade cottage cheese. That eighty-nine year old woman, as country cooks go, could put Paula Deen to shame. Grandma's blackberry cake was a moist bit of heaven.
Her son and only elder, Bro. Adrian, would walk down the long slatted table admiring and sniffing right before he gave the thanks. I believe he wanted to make sure he was properly enthusiastic as he thanked the good Lord for the bounty. I did notice a definite eye raise when he passed Miss Effy's peach cobbler. He radiated to that spot as soon as he finished praying. His motto was: Life is short, eat dessert first. His wife, Eileen, finished dinner off with her homemade peach ice cream.
Saturday morning before homecoming brought a flurry of activity in the chicken yards, as prime chickens were chosen to give their lives for the Lord's work on Homecoming Sunday. Soaked in salt water overnight,the plump pieces were rolled in flour and secret spices. Then they were plopped into hot grease and cooked for at least an hour in a huge, black, cast iron skillet aptly named the chicken fryer. Once I counted five giant platters of chicken.
Homemade bread was bountiful. Mrs. Todd specialized in yeast rolls, the kind you make and keep punching down until the third rising, When you bake them. they're so light and fluffy they practically float off the table and disappear.
Rhetta Pearl made big, crusty, buttermilk biscuits, pulled from the church oven just before the dinner bell was pulled.
Bowls of fresh churned butter waited to top the humble bread offerings. Betty Jo specialized in the roll your eyes and pat your tummy variety of corn bread, made with yellow cornmeal. It was a perfect compliment to her dutch oven filled with pinto beans, and seasoned with a gigantic ham hock.
Fresh corn on the cob, tomatoes, and every garden green imaginable trailed down the table.
Sweet tea and home squeezed lemonade flowed to wash it all down.
I never did have the nerve to ask what was in that one pot, it will remain a mystery.
The variety on the table rivaled the variety of people. Tall, short, fat, skinny, rich, poor, pretty and not so pretty, they all came, brothers and sisters in God's family. There were hugs and smiles and giggles as people caught up with each other.
Proud little Bea, introduced her loved ones. "This is my nephew all the way from Florida. He made a nurse, and these are his sons." I looked over and saw him grin and shake his head.
And when all had eaten their fill, the afternoon singing began. Testimonies of God's love were shared next.
Then Pastor Mounts preached the word plain and simple. Even little ones could understand they needed a savior. His name was Jesus, and he died for the forgiveness of their sins. When he finished the whole crowd filed down to the river by the baptizing hole. It was deep enough to immerse the repentant, symbolic of Christ burial and resurrection. Our congregation baptized in running water, as a picture of Jesus baptism in the Jordan River.
Now when I hear potluck, I'll always remember the good food, the sweet fellowship, and the precious souls in my church family through the years. I'm forever blessed for God has allowed me a glimpse of heaven.
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