I'd be a whole lot thinner if not for Sunday dinner
This will give you some indication of how much I looked forward to Sunday dinners when I was a kid.
I couldn't wait for dinner to be served even though I knew that Sunday afternoon brought me that much closer to Monday morning and school.
I must have been like a turkey in early November being fattened up for Thanksgiving. I knew what was coming, but the food was too good to worry about it.
In our house and most of the Coal Region, Sunday dinner was held an hour or so later than what was known on weekdays as lunch.
Supper was the late afternoon meal, which people elsewhere refer to as dinner. However, you can't go by that. Those people also refer to the late evening meal as supper. We just called that pigging out before going to bed.
Well, anyway, let's get back to Sundays. Several times a year, Dad would treat us kids to a round or two of pre-dinner appetizers on a walking tour of town.
This was more than fine with us and even better for Mother, who was able to concentrate on cooking without having to sidestep my brothers and me.
Our tours included visits to the truck rooms of several fire companies. The intoxicating aroma of highly polished, brightly colored fire engines and their equipment served to whet our appetites. And our appetites were whetted to begin with.
To take the edge off our hunger, Dad would take us to the Eagles Club for a round of a soda and our choice of a candy bar. I usually went for a Chunky, gnawing on it like a hungry dog on a particularly tasty bone.
On such days, we got a rare double dose of soda. Sunday dinners and Friday night pizzas were usually the only time we were allowed to drink soda.
(We did drink a gallon or two of the stuff each week when we were outside running around with our friends, but that didn't count.)
Kramer's was the soda of choice and its variety of delicious flavors filled the decision of which quart bottle to open with more anxiety than picking the right fine wine in a fancy restaurant.
However, once we picked root beer, cream or Lotta-Cola the resemblance with wine selection ended. We didn't allow the soda to "breathe" as is done with wine. As a matterof fact , we didn't give it a chance to catch its breath before we chugged it down.
As I think back, there were fewer choices of entrees than there were of soda flavors. This was fine with us because as far as our Mom's cooking was concerned, we couldn't make a bad choice.
Not only did the Sunday menu feature roast beef, baked chicken, pork chops and - best of all, breaded veal cutlets - Mother never served liver and onions on Sunday.
Some of the fun has gone out of some of my favorite parts of those Sunday dinners. I cannot recall the last time I ate a piece of chicken that was not boneless, much less skinless.
Back then, chicken skin coated and crispy was probably my favorite part of the drumstick. My cholesterol went up 10 points just typing that previous sentence.
Mother trimmed the beef, but I was still able to pick out the outer pieces that had still had a bit of fat for roasting purposes. The beef itself was good, but the fat was the artery-clogging equivalent of ice cream on pie.
Our favorite side dish was mashed potatoes. Of course, we kids weren't content to let the spuds go unaccompanied with something that would later be branded as unhealthy.
"Slishy-sloshy potatoes" consisted of mashed potatoes liberally topped with a couple of slices of butter and a splash or two of milk. That would be enough to fill in the patches of arteries that the chicken skin hadn't taken care of.
Like any self-respecting young guys, my brothers and I weren't really big on veggies. I think the only green food that we ate willingly was pistachio ice cream.
This limited Mother, but did not stop her. One or two tries with steamed spinach was enough to convince her that we liked Popeye but not enough to make us eat spinach.
Creamed corn was about the only vegetable that I would eat. This is kind of strange, since creamed corn is about the only veggie that I won't eat now.
For the most part, my brothers and I were inclined to follow the advice of our Uncle Godfrey: "Eat the meat first and when that's done, eat just enough side dishes to tide you over to dessert."
Many years have passed since he issued that valuable insight into eating, but I'm sure Uncle Godfrey would not mind changing it in light of today's emphasis on better nutrition.
Eat just enough skinless, boneless chicken and steamed vegetables to tide you over until dessert.
(Walt Kozlowski, a freelance writer from Mount Carmel, composes Walt's Way for each Sunday edition.)