The Smell of Chocolate Is Brain Therapy

Posted September 24, 2009 by Archer Pam
Categories: family activities, Food and Recipes, Memories, Story

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Our family is addicted to chocolate!  Not just chocolate, anything sweet will do, but chocolate is our favorite.  It’s Mother’s fault!!!  It’s her fault because she consistently filled the air in our home with the aroma of  all things yummy.

Homemade fudge was one of her specialties.  She made it in an iron skillet.  Once the butter, sugar, chocolate, and vanilla blended and heated, it emitted a smell that lodged in my brain when I was a young child, and it is there it has remained.  The hint of the smell of chocolate, takes me back to my mother’s hip, where I stood and, she stirred the heavenly concoction. She would pour it onto waxed paper to cool.  “Who wants to lick the spoon?” she would call out.  That generated a flurry of activity as we scurried to the kitchen, often pushing another sibling aside, to be the first to get to get there.  If there were several of us at home, she was careful to leave enough in the skillet so that we could all have a taste.

On rare occasion, there would be a box of store bought chocolates in the house.  “You can have two pieces per day.” she instructed.  She attempted to teach moderation with sweets, but they were a weakness for her, too.  She was the guiltiest of the whole bunch of us.

Mother had a habit of applying a thumb print to the bottom of the pieces of chocolate.  The purpose was to discover what the filling was, prior to committing to the entire piece.  I tended to take my chances and dive right in.  Suz would do the same, except that if she didn’t like it, she returned it to the box and continued to sample other pieces in the same way. “EEWWWHH! You ruined it!” was the response to that antic.

Forrest Gump was right when he coined the phrase, “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re going to get.”

I learned from the box of chocolates that:

1. Testing the water before diving in is probably wise.

2. Diving in head first, and committing to it fully, will get the job done, and with some degree of satisfaction, but not without a few bumps and scrapes.

3.  We should be willing to share good things with others.

Jeaneane just sent me Mother’s fudge recipe, so here it is:

1-1/2 cups milk
2-1/2 cups sugar (mother’s recipe called for 3 cups, but I think that’s too much)
1/4 cup cocoa
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 stick margarine
1 tsp vanilla
Chopped walnuts (optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients and stir.  Cook over medium heat until boiling (bubbles should become small).  Test by dropping a small drop of mixture into a cup of cold water.  If it forms a ball, remove from heat and place pan in cold water.  Immediately add margarine, vanilla, and nuts.  Stir quickly.  As soon as mixture begins to harden, pour into a glass container that has been greased down good with butter.



Report from the Haggard Smoky Mtn. Picnic

Posted August 2, 2009 by Archer Pam
Categories: Blogroll, humor, The Great Smoky Mtns.

Tags: , , , ,

The annual, Haggard family, Smoky Mtn. picnic, in Cades Cove,  proved to be a success.  Though many of the family members couldn’t attend this year, because SOMEONE didn’t plan soon enough, those who were able to come had a fantastic time.

My mother’s maiden name was Haggard.  It has been a tradition for decades to have this picnic with Mother’s sisters, and all of their children (me and my cousins).  There are only two sisters living, Aunt Nina and Aunt Wanda.  We enjoyed the company of Aunt Wanda this year, but Aunt Nina couldn’t make it. 

I could go on and on about how much fun we had, but you can watch the videos and see for yourself.  There are a couple of references on it to inside stories; “the golden hammer”, and “Sonny, do you have change for a dime.”  I will have to give considerable thought, and maybe a little prayer, as to when and where to share those stories.

We missed the rest of our family, but we will see you  next year.  OH!  For the most part, everyone obeyed the rules for the picnic, and nobody complained about eating dead chicken.

Donna and Sonny portrayed Sonny’s favorite joke:

A little of the natural beauty of the Smokies, and I’m not talking about the “sleeping beauties”!

Something else to know about the Haggard family, is that once you attend one of our events, you become part of the family, so make plans to join us next year!

The Annual Haggard Smoky Mtn. Picnic

Posted July 27, 2009 by Archer Pam
Categories: Food and Recipes, humor, The Great Smoky Mtns., Uncategorized

The Haggard Family Shindig is on for this Saturday, August 1st, in Cades Cove, which is located in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 12:30 o’clock in the afternoon, but still in time for lunch. 
Cades Cove, Tennessee

Cades Cove, Tennessee

 We don’t have a rainy day plan, so pray for no lightnin’, no pourin’ down thunderation thunderstorms, and no strong and mighty wind forces.  If’n you don’t pray, pack your rubber boots and rubber duckies, cuz you will be eatin’ you some wet chcken little. 

The information listed below was provided to me by my next of kin, kindred spirits, and various and assorted other individuals, who shall remain nameless, but their initials are Aunt Wanda Byrd and Sonny Payne.  Hereunto let it be known and acknowledged that the following persons will be bringing the thereafter following vittles:

Aint Wanda – cold slaw, tater salad, and a yummy, even delicious cake

Karen Broke & Jordie – don’t know yet, but I’m sure it will be delectible

Sonny Boy & Reva Jo – a bucket of dead chicken and slaw.  All that and a bag of chips

Jeaneane (Nene Mae), and Becky Sue – a bucket of dead chicken, original recipe, with baked up beans

Donna Roberta and Tommy Wayne – a decadent, sinfully delicious dessert, and whutever else she wants to throw in

Dianer and John Boy Nevinz (or a friend, if JB can’t come) – more dead chicken, slaw, and whatever else they’re hungry for

Pammie Poo and Chuckie Do – a few newspapers to sling over the tables, sum tin foil to eat off of, a box of kleenex to wipe our hands and mouths on, moonshine, tin cups, some kind of bread, and burnt beans

If’n you don’t see nuthin here that you are a cravin’, pick up your most favorite food and bring it with ya.

Rules for August 1st, in the year of our Lord, 2009:

No gripin’

No complainin’

No rollin’ of the eyes

No talkin’ behind one t’others backs

No cussin’ or fussin’

No squirt guns or other such objects, cuz if we are askin’ the Lord for His blessins with good weather, we shouldn’t bring water toys.

Must laugh

Must wear a smile

Must bring an appetite

Bug spray is optional

Let’s round em up and move em out.  See ya on the Saturdee!

Luv from your cousin, mother, sister, wife, aunt, niece,


P. S. 

Those of youin’s that can’t make it this year, we will do better next time and git an invite to you much more earlier.  We’ll be missin’ you!

I will write about what I learned from this experience after it’s over and done with.

I fount this blog about somebody else’s love for Cade’s Cove.  Have a look at it, too.  Tell her I sent ya!

Rocky Top Tennessee –

Laugh Like There’s No Tomorrow

Posted July 12, 2009 by Archer Pam
Categories: Blogroll, humor, Memories, Story

Tags: , , , , ,

On top of old Smoky is Newfound Gap.  From this lookout point, on US  Route 441,  you can see North Carolina and Tennessee.  Rte. 441 is the main highway through the Smokies.  From Dolly Parton’s hometown of Sevierville, TN to Cherokee, NC it is the only highway, and it is a long and winding one. Millions of people travel this road every year, as they enjoy the scenic beauty of The Great Smoky Mountains.

Newfound Gap in The Smokies Elevation 5,068 ft.

Newfound Gap in The Smokies Elevation 5,068 ft.

It was on this road that we were driving on the 4th of July weekend.  Sonny and Reva have bought a home in the foothills of the Smokies, and Chuck and I  had been down there helping them clean up and fix up. Since Nene lives in Knoxville, it is only about a 20 minute drive for her.  She came over to go out to dinner with us.  It took us about thirty seconds to decide on where we wanted to go for dinner, so we hopped into Nene’s Lincoln and headed over the mountain.

You need to understand that my brother, Sonny, doesn’t have a lick of sense when we get together.  Reva says he changes into a different creature when he is with his sisters.  Reva was sitting shot gun and Nene was driving.  Sonny and Chuck flanked each side of me in the back seat.  Why do I have to always be the one to sit on the hump?  Because, my brother and I must sit together, otherwise it is a boring trip, and he pouts.

Reva and Nene had water or Pepsi, or some drink they were sipping on .  I was thirsty.  We had been on the road about five minutes:

Pam: “I’m thristy.”

Sonny: “Me, too.  At least SOME of us have something to drink.”

Pam: “Yeah. Maybe they will give our poor, parched lips a sip.”

I needed water!

I needed water!

Sonny: “Or at least let us smell of it.”

Pam: “Do they think because I’m sitting on this hump that I’m some sort of camel?”

Sonny:  “They think you can store water in that hump.”

Pam:  “Well I’m not walking a mile for a camel.”   “Look!  Is that an oasis up ahead, or just a mirage?”

Nene pulled in a market and Chuck bought us some water.

Five minutes down the road.

Pam: “I have to go to the bathroom.”

We laughed all the way over to Cherokee and all the way back. We ate dinner at Cherokee, loaded up Chief Fulla Bulla (Sonny), and headed back over the mountain.  The conversation went something like this:

Nene: “I’ve been on a Hershey’s with Almonds kick lately.”

Pam: “Well, sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t. You know, those Almonds can be a Joy.”

Sonny: “Hey Nene! When you get to Newfound Gap, pull over so we can get out and look at the Stars. pause  “Maybe we can get a Mars bar, and sit back and Snicker.”

Pam: “And, look at the Milky Way.”

Sonny: “Nene, you didn’t stop and let us look at the stars!”

Pam: “No, you didn’t.  The 3 Musketeers back here wanted to stop and look at the stars.”


Pam: “Would somebody hand me some of those M&M’s?  And, don’t let Nene have any.  She has Butterfingers.”


Pam: “I’m thirsty.  I need a drink from my Reese’s Cup.”

Sonny: “Someone’s had too much Laffy Taffy.”

Chuck: “We ought to Cluster up and go to the parade in Gatlinburg.”

Long pause

Sonny: “Dr. Who will probably be there.”

Pam: “Yeah, and Dr. Enuf.”                          

Dr. Enuf

Dr. Enuf

Chuck: “And, Dr. Pepper.”

Pam: “I haven’t seen him since he was Nehi.”  pause  “Didn’t he use to date Grapette?”

Reva: “I know he had a Crush on her.”

Pam: “He was a little Sprite of a thing, best I remember.”

Chuck: ” Didn’t he have a cousin named RC?”

Nene: “Maybe we can get seats in the Upper 10.”

Pam: “Or 7 Up from there.”

Sonny: “Little Baby Ruth will probably be there.”

Reva: “And Peppermint Patty.”           

Little Baby Ruth

Little Baby Ruth

Pam: “Along with her Sugar Babies, and their Sugar Daddy’s.”


Pam: “Sonny, would you and Chuck stop playing “lean” around these curves?  I’m getting in a Crunch back here, sitting in the middle.”

Sonny: “You all have Zero sense!”

Pam: “Yeah, we all sound like we’re on Coke.”  pause  “I hear it’s Dry in Canada this time of year.”

Nene: “Would you all hush!  I’m trying to drive through this Sierra Mist.”

This week I get an e-mail from Nene:

“I found out that Suz was at the parade in Gatlinburg over the weekend.  Guess Baby Ruth was there after all.  Isn’t that hilarious?” I replied, “Was she with Mr. Pibb?  He was always Mother’s favorite!”

The Haggard Sisters

Posted June 18, 2009 by Archer Pam
Categories: About Me, Blogroll, church, Love, Memories, Story

Tags: , , , ,

I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton, but I must agree with what she said about  “It takes a village to raise a child”.  I’ve come to realize the truth to this statement as I have reflected on all the people in my life who helped to raise me.  My parents, of course, but so many more people impacted my life, and helped to shape and develop my personality, spirituality, goals and dreams, and all other aspects of my life. 

Through this blog, I am chronicling my life story.  I have mentioned my parents, grandparents, siblings, a couple of my aunts, and a high school music teacher.  A few weeks ago, my sweet Aunt Mable passed away.  She was 92.  She was my mother’s sister.  My mother and my Aunt Margaret preceded her in death.  You might remember Aunt Mable and Aunt Margaret from a previous blog post.  They were pranksters!  They are  in the picture below.

Seated -A. Margaret, Standing, L to R A. Mable, A. Wanda, A. Nina

Seated -A. Margaret, Standing, L to R A. Mable, A. Wanda, A. Nina

My aunts lived full lives.  They were fun people!  I want to be a fun person. 

I spent a lot of time with my maternal aunts, and my cousins.  We lived within a few miles of each other, so we were at each others houses often. 

Like Mother, Aunt Mable was an extraordinary cook.  She was the supervisor and head cook for a technological college in Knoxville for many years.  You talk about some good eating!  A family get-together, starring the prize winning dishes, cooked by my mother and aunts, was enviable.  I say prize winning, because they competed at the Tennessee Valley A & I Fair, and took home many blue ribbons for their baking.

Aunt Margaret was quite the seamstress.  She could sew anything!  And, she could do it without a pattern to follow.  She taught me a number of short cuts when I was learning to sew; things like how to sew in sleeves.  This tip saved me many hours of time.  She encouraged me in my sewing, and complimented me on a job well done.

Aunt Mable let me hang out with her as a teenager.  Her son, Phil, was a close friend, and we double-dated.  Mother and Daddy allowed me, on occasion, to go to Sunday evening services with Phil and Aunt Mable.  There may have been an ulterior motive in my wanting to go, since my boyfriend also went to that church.  On the way home, we would sing those old hymns we had sung in church.

Anytime any of us got together there was music, or singing, involved.  I particularly remember one incident with Aunt Mable.  Her daughter, Betty Lou, my sister Nene, my Aunt Wanda, and me in the car.  I don’t remember where we were going, but we started singing.  I unashamedly say that we harmonized amazingly as we sang “Country Roads, Take Me Home”, and a gamut of other songs.  It’s funny how a seemingly insignificant moment can create a memory that lasts a lifetime.

My Aunt Nina is one of the most unique individuals I have ever known.  She took great care of herself, long before exercise was a household word.  She could roller skate.  I was awed that she could skate backwards.  She swam and walked, to add to her physical regimen.  I love her laugh!  It’s contagious.   She was an encourager to me, too.  I was 15 years old, when she came over to the house one day.  I was sitting at the sewing machine.  She came over to look at what I was making.  “Pamela, you’re going to save some man a lot of money one day.”   she admired.  Her words echoed in my mind as I sewed clothes for my three daughters, and as I made various items for gift shops.  That one sentence gave me confidence in my sewing, a skill I was able to use professionally.

Aunt Wanda is the youngest of the sisters.  A career woman, she had a lot of wisdom to impart to my young, impressionable mind.  I look more like her than any of my other aunts.  She calls us twins.  I have many memories with my Aunt Wanda, but one that really stuck was when my husband was in Vietnam.  I was only 19 years old at the time.  All my friends were still dating; going out on the weekends.  I was lonely.   I had moved back home with my parents while my husband was gone to war.  One night, they invited Aunt Wanda to spend the night.  She loved being at our house as much as we enjoyed having her.  She slept with me that night.  We talked and laughed into the night.  She told me that she felt sorry for me, because I was so young ,and I was going through missing my husband. (We had our first anniversary while he was away.)  The tears started to flow from my eyes.  She was a strong comfort for me that night, and I’ve never told her that. 

Why am I telling you all of this?  It’s because they were mentors to me.  It’s because they believed in me, enabling me to believe in myself.  It’s because we should be aware of the kind of impact we are having on the lives of those around us.   

Are we creating memories, or are we simply existing?  Is our impact positive or negative?  What will be remembered about us, after we are gone? 

From my aunts I learned that:

1. Extended family is an important part of that village that raises us.

2. Encouraging words give hope.

3. If you don’t want to laugh, don’t hang around with the Haggard sisters.

Prankster Gets Caught

Posted May 29, 2009 by Archer Pam
Categories: church, humor, Memories, Story

Tags: ,

Continued from last post, “Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly”:

Donnie was Mrs. Trivette’s son.  He and we became partners in mischief early on.  A trouble maker recognizes another trouble maker.

Nene went into our dorm room to change clothes.  She turned to the closet to get her clothes, and noticed shoes on the floor that didn’t match any that belonged to her, plus they had feet in them!  Screaming, while grabbing at the hangers to unveil the intruder, she came face-to-face with Donnie.  This was the launch of the prankster war among  the youth at Knox County Lodge.

Nene was working in the kitchen with Donnie.  He tossed water onto Nene, soaking her clothing.  He was wiry and fast, so he took off running, before she could get him back….but she had a plan!  When Payne’s devise a plan, all I can say is beware.

Nene giggled as she filled the mop bucket full of ice water.  She knew that Donnie has made his way down to the kitchen the next morning.  She decided that she would climb on a ladder, and as he came through the door to the stairwell, she would dump the bucket of water on him from “heaven”. 

She could barely contain herself as she anticipated how good it was going to be to pull over such a prank on her archenemy.  She heard Donnie talking, so she knew he was in there.  It was just a matter of time. 

The sound of footsteps was getting closer and closer.  Nene held the bucket in ready-fire position.  As soon as that door opened, she poured the contents on the person below.  Horse-laughing, she looked down to revel in her victory only to see Mrs. Trvitte looking up, in utter shock.  She was not amused by the cold, icy water, that dripped from her hair and chin like the outcome of a Three Stooges stunt.  She was not one bit jovial, nor did she take off running.  Nene’s face was a whiter shade of pale as she imagined the consequences of dumping water on the Resident Director.

Suffice to say that she never did that again, and it took quite a while to get back in Mrs. Trivette’s good graces.

I think Nene made a point to go to worship (and repentance) service that night.

From this experience I learned that:

1. If you dish it out, you had better be prepared to take it.

2. Ridgecrest was an humbling place.

3. I would never agree to be a Resident Director for a building full of mischievous young people.

Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly

Posted April 16, 2009 by Archer Pam
Categories: humor, Memories, Story

Tags: , , ,
Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly

Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly

Summer was synonymous with Ridgecrest.  Ridgecrest is a convention area where Baptists from all over the southeastern United States convene for week-long conferences.  Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains, not far from Asheville, North Carolina, it is a scenic, almost resort.

Through our parents’  connection to the Knox County Baptist Associational office, Nene was able to get a job in the summer, working at the Knox County Lodge at Ridgecrest.  Though I was only 15 the first year she worked there, they allowed me to work, based on the fact that I was a preacher’s daughter, and would have an older sibling to keep an eye on me.  They had been misinformed!  We weren’t bad girls, but we had a mischievous streak that ran the length of the railroad tracks that delivered us by train each summer, from the Knoxville Train Depot to the tiny depot by the side of the tracks in Black Mtn., North Carolina.


We boarded the train, and waved goodbye to Mother and Suzanne.  We had stars in our eyes and mischief on our minds.  Though innocent and naive  in our virtue, we were well-seasoned pranksters.  The sound of the wheels of the train clicking along the track, the whistle blowing as it neared a curve or a crossing, and the conductor coming through the cars to collect our tickets was thrilling.  Our Grandpa Payne had been a conductor for Southern Railways, and had retired just a few years before.  Traveling and trains were in our blood.

Stepping down from the train onto the dusty, wooden, platform of the Black Mtn. Depot, we were instantly transported into another world.  There was no one at the depot.   We picked up our suitcases and headed for the long walk to Knox County Lodge.  Luggage didn’t have wheels, back in the day, so by the time we arrived at our destination, we had stopped on the winding mountain road to rest a few times along the way.

Circa 1966

Circa 1966

As you can see, the lodge was built from cinder block.  The outside looks plush compared to the inside.  All of the floors, in the dormitory style housing, were concrete.  Each room had 2 full- size beds and a place to hang your clothes, that did not have a door.  Each room had a bathroom, but the amenities ended there.

Air-conditioning was unheard of, so all of the windows were open in the summer. 

There was a small lobby in the entrance.  Located at the rear of the lobby was a staircase; concrete with steel handrails.  The first room on the left, after passing the staircase was our room. The next room belonged to the director, Mrs. Trivette.  At the other end of the hall was another staircase.

Located on the floor below us was the dining hall.  This is where we were to report three times per day to set the tables, and carry the country-style meals to the tables,  and clean up afterwards.  At the end of the week, an offering plate was passed for us and we divided the proceeds between all of the servers, of whom there were seven or eight.  Our room and board was furnished, and we had the privilege of attending conference sessions while we were there.  The money we made working was spending money.  I describe all of this to you so that you will appreciate this series of stories I am going to tell you.

There were strict curfew rules at the lodge.  Conference attendees were early risers.  They had to be at breakfast by 7:00 am to make the conference sessions at 8:00.  Mrs. Trivett insisted that all lights must be out by 11:00 pm. 

As soon as lights out was called, she would turn out the hall lights and walk the halls to see if any light was coming out from under the doors.  She would gently knock on those doors and remind them of “lights out”.  We waited until we heard her door close and gave her a few minites to settle down.  Nene, me, and our two roommates sneaked out into the hall and tip-toed down the stairs.  Since we could get into the kitchen, we raided it.  We got fried chicken, pie, rolls, bananas, everything we could carry, and made our way quietly and safely back to the room.  We piled all the food in the middle of the food and sat down to our feast.  “We need something to drink” one of the girls remarked.  “Yeah, we do.”  said another.  “Pam, go get us a couple of sodas out of the machine.”, Nene insisted. 

Like the dutiful sister, I tiptoed out the door, past Mrs. Trivette’s room, and to the end of the long hallway, where the drink machine was located.  I slipped the money in the slot.  Bong, dingy-ding, bong, bong!  Every time the canned drink hit the chute, it echoed throughout the cinder-block building and through the hallways.  Up and down every staircase, through each open window, and into the great forest that surrounded the building.  I heard Mrs. Trivette’s door open.  Thinking quickly, I ran downstairs, through the dining hall, and back up the staircase that came out beside our room.  Just as I rounded the corner of the first landing, I looked up and saw Mrs. Trivette at the top of the steps.  Hair curlers and hair net, bathrobe, and hands on hips, she whispered, “Pamela! What are you doing out of your room?”  I mumbled something about being thirsty, as I slid past her.  I apologized for my first night of missing lights out, and plead new kid on the block.

We thought we were safe, when a while later we heard a knock on our door.  We all hopped into the bed and turned out the light.  She knocked again. “Girls!”  Silence.  “Open the door.” she demanded.  Igot up and answered the door, acting like she had awakened us.  “We were asleep.” The words glided off my lying tongue.   “Well, Pamela!  Do you always sleep in your clothes?”  Sarcastically she addressed us.  “Jeaneane!  Do you always sleep in your glasses?  Do you girls think I was born yesterday?  I saw the light on under your door, and heard you laughing.  You can hear you all the way down the hall.  Now get to bed, and I mean NOW!”  We were busted! 

That was our initial introduction to Mrs. Trivette.  Wait until you hear about Nene’s encounter with her.  Bring a towel!