The year was 1957. I started second grade in Waterproof, LA. Back in those days, school didn’t start until after Labor Day. Six weeks into the school year, my Dad’s drilling rig moved to Crosby, MS. We packed up and followed.
It took my Dad’s crew about six weeks to drill two dry holes. That fall I went to school in Houma, LA for about two weeks, then Baton Rouge for three weeks. One dry hole after another. We were back in Waterproof before Christmas.
Mostly, I remember Crosby. Of Course, there was the sawmill. We didn’t have anything to do with that.
We were oilfield people. My Dad and his rig were there to drill holes in the ground, find some oil and make those guys who wore suits in Houston rich.
My Dad rented a house for my Mom, my sister and I. It was big, and white. In the back, just off the porch was a walk-in bird cage. A big old thing for a seven year old to see. And, it was plumb full of parakeets. Easily a hundred. Every color a parakeet can be. I was fascinated. Yellows, blues, greens and some reds.
Back then, people would rent out their houses, furnished, ready to move into. We were trusted. The owner, an older lady, would come out and check on her parakeets every day. Maybe we were not trusted enough.
We only lived in half of the downstairs part. I could not go up the stairs nor over to the other half, the part across the hall. We had the kitchen part, a bathroom and two bedrooms.
Her name was Mrs. Crosby, I think. Just like the name of the town and the name of the saw mill. It’s been a long time. I didn’t make the connection until I heard the house burned down. She lived in town, in another big house, bigger than the one we stayed in.
I remember she took me to town. She was most likely baby-sitting me. I just don’t know. She said she would make me a lemon ice box pie if I didn’t get in any trouble. I didn’t touch a thing in her house.
I had no idea you could make an ice box pie. My Grandmother always baked her pies.
I watched her make the graham cracker crust, adding orange juice. Then, with an electric mixer, she whipped up the filling. She put the entire thing in her refrigerator. A while later, she pulled it out, put on the meringue topping and stuck it in the oven. She put it aside to cool.
She cut it and gave me a slice on a saucer. Remember, I’m a kid from the oil patch. My Grandmother cooked a lot and my Mom cooked for my Dad, my sister and I. We had staple foods, a lot of meat and potatoes, peas and cornbread. Never before in my life had I come face to face with a handmade Lemon Ice Box Pie.
It was the first of many Ice Box Pies.
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