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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Savory to the Taste (07/26/12)

TITLE: Savory Sam
By Myrna Noyes


Mama, who'd been a schoolmarm before she married Papa and so knew "big" words, had given Sam Taylor the strange nickname "Savory Sam." Of course we kids only referred to him by that moniker among ourselves. To his face we politely addressed him as "Mr. Taylor." Mama would have allowed nothing else.

Sam seemed quite elderly to us when we were young, but he was most likely around middle age. A bachelor with no family around, he worked in our area from farm to farm as he was needed. He received room and board plus enough spending money to keep him in pipe tobacco and clothing--which made him quite content. Lean and lanky of frame, bewhiskered and bright-eyed, his greatest assets were a generous smile and kindly heart.

Sam usually stayed with us anywhere from a couple weeks to two months during spring planting and fall harvest. (It was said in the winter he went back East to visit a brother.) Pa welcomed his help, as he was a hard-worker and a trustworthy man.

He just loved Mama's cooking and could "put away" three platefuls at a sitting, which always left us in awe. After he put his fork down for the last time, he invariably sighed with satisfaction or rubbed his stomach before nodding to Mama and saying, "Mighty tasty, Ma'am. Mighty tasty indeed!"

Desserts didn't interest him in the least, however, and he always "passed" when Mama brought out the cake, pie, or doughnuts at the end of Sunday's "after-meetin'" meal. He'd explained once. "When I was growing up, my folks was too poor to afford sugar. Besides, there weren't a store within a hundert miles of our lonely cabin anyway, so my tongue never had a chance to get used to sweet stuffs. My Ma told me once when I was a lad that my sweetness would have to come from within!" He'd laughed then before continuing, and the crowsfeet around his eyes crinkled closer together. "My Pa, Nimrod was his name, was truly a "mighty hunter before the Lord," so we never went hungry." He smacked his lips as he fondly recalled the robust rabbit, deer, squirrel, and even bear stews of his boyhood. "Ma would make a fine gravy from fat and flour with a pinch of salt that would coat them tender chunks of meat jest right. Sometimes, in the growing season, she'd add potatoes or root vegetables. It weren't nothin' fancy, but it filled all the holler spots in our bellies." My own mouth was watering by the end of his reminiscence.

On occasion he regaled our family with hunting stories like this: "I recall one time when Pa and I come upon a small herd of buffalo. We was trying to sneak up on them quiet-like to pick one off for winter meat when the wind must have carried our scent to them, and then the brutes turned and began to charge us. Pa and I leaped into the air like we was shot ourselves and lit out for a nearby ditch, barely making it in time, where we hunkered down 'til they passed." Our jaws hung open and our childish eyes would grow huge as he talked, but Mama and Papa later said they suspected some of his tales were a tad "tall."

Sometimes when Mama had made a particularly special dessert, she'd try to tempt Sam to have a small serving, but he always declined. Once in a while he'd respond, "I'm thankin' ya, Ma'am, but I think I'd ruther have some more of yer delicious chicken pie instead, if thet's all right." Mama would smile and set another generous, flaky portion of the pot pie on his plate.

After supper he rarely failed to spend a bit of time with us kids before heading to the barn to bed down for the night. Sometimes he'd take out his knife and whittle us a simple toy. One night it would be the figure of a dog or horse or locomotive engine for me, and the next it would be a little doll or kitten for my younger sister. He also enjoyed playing checkers or some other game with us, teaching us a new song, or amusing us with a difficult riddle.

Sam moved on further west about the time I hit my teens, and we were all sorry to see him go. He may have preferred the heartier savory foods, but he surely did have a sweet soul within.

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This article has been read 508 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 08/03/12
Great title and great story. Loved it. It was on topic and so well-written. Nice description of the farm hand. I could see him sitting there eating the food!

Thanks. God Bless~
Joanne Sher 08/05/12
Your descriptions are just wonderful - you put me right there with them. Such atmosphere. Absolutely charmed by this piece!
Helen Curtis08/05/12
Delightful reading! He sounds like a lovely man, you are very blessed to have had such a person in your childhood. Well done on a lovely and well-written piece.
Ellen Carr 08/06/12
I really enjoyed your story and the descriptions of Sam. I wonder if the 5th paragraph would have been better broken up a bit - just my opinion. But well-written and nicely 'foody'.
Laura Manley08/06/12
This yarn left me with a smile on my face. Very descriptive writing; an entry I truly enjoyed.
Loren T. Lowery08/06/12
This seems to be only the beginning of a very interesting, entertaining and informative story. I really liked the way you formed Sam's character and his background - it seemed so authentic. And your scene settings are top-drawer in my book - I could see, taste and smell everything. Great job.
Noel Mitaxa 08/07/12
Very graphic descriptions of the sounds and smells and of the warmth of character. Very enjoyable read. I could visualise Savory Sam touching people with his love for food and his story-telling - almostv like a pied piper, only without the tragic ending of the original story. Excellent work.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/07/12
This felt like an episode from Little House which is one of my favorite shows and books. It took me back to a simpler and slower time.

My only red ink would be (and I can't believe I'm saying it) but their was a part where Sam was talking and ha said Papa and I. While grammatically correct, it made me stop because the character you painted inside my head would say Papa and me or even Me and Papa.

You covered the topic in a fresh way and held my attention from beginning to end.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/07/12
Awww the shame I spelled there as their. Oops Still loved your story though! :) Would you believe I did it on purpose to emphasize me red ink comment? :}
Phyllis Inniss08/09/12
What a story teller you are! I enjoyed the description of Savory Sam and your writing is so authentic. It reminded me of those classics I read in my early days, very nice and warm and cosy. It is always great to have a character in your childhood that filled your life with pleasure.
Phyllis Inniss08/09/12
What a story teller you are! I enjoyed the description of Savory Sam and your writing is so authentic. It reminded me of those classics I read in my early days, very nice and warm and cosy. It is always great to have a character in your childhood that filled your life with pleasure.
Loren T. Lowery08/10/12
I really think you have some great characters to build upon in your story here, Myrna. The setting is great too. By-the-way, thank-you for the comment on my last entry in this challeng. It means a lot!