Saturday, March 31, 2007

Nutmeg

Okay, this is only a writing exercise.

I just wanted to see if I can take any little subject and make it interesting. The subject is "nutmeg."

I'll expound upon nutmeg.

Here goes.

I remember the first time I heard about nutmeg. It was 1967 and I was eight years old. My maternal grandparents were driving me and my brother to my paternal grandmother's house northwest to Nixon, Texas.

I persuaded my grandfather into taking a back road, Highway 108 in Texas to Smiley because I thought it would be curvy and more interesting than taking the usual Highway 119 to Nixon.

Along the way, we passed through the tiny community of Nopal, Texas, (pop. 25). The only thing indicating Nopal was a little general store and I wanted to stop there and see it. I also had to pee really badly, so my grandfather pulled over and I hurried into the old, wooden establishment.

All the counter-tops in there was so aged and I could tell that this establishment was something out of the ordinary.

An elderly woman met me at the counter and showed me through to the outdoor privy behind the building. Having grown up in rural Texas, I was not unfamiliar with negotiating such facilities. However, the dirt pathway was tightly encroached by waist-high cacti on both sides. Any mis-step would result in a painful and tedious removal of thorns. I carefully negotiated my way to the little wooden booth-sized outhouse.

Upon returning to the counter, I noticed several containers of various spices on hand such as pepper, salt, red pepper, and. . .

. . . whole nutmegs.

I was just amazed at the fact that anyone could come to the general store in Nopal, Texas, (pop. 25) and purchase whole nutmegs if they really needed them.

Yet, my little seven-year-old mind wondered at how often the residents of such a tiny community would actually require whole nutmegs. Was there an actual need of nutmeg in a community this size? Could this population actually justify that their general store carry whole nutmeg in order for it to be profitable?

These were questions I thought of back in 1967.

Moreover . . .

If Mrs. Johnston down the road was making bread pudding and suddenly found that she was without fresh nutmeg with which to flavor it, could she send her 16-year-old son in an old pick-up truck to the general store with a quarter, from which he'd be able to return with a purchased nutmeg?

The answer is, a resounding, 'yes.'

Mrs. Johnston would then be able to continue her making of the bread pudding with a whole nutmeg that had, indeed, been purchased at the general store in Nopal, Texas (pop. 25).

Scritch-scritch-scritch . . . .
Scritch-scritch-scritch . . . .
Scritch-scritch-scritch . . . .

I only bought a five-cent licorice stick at the counter when I was there in 1967. But somehow, I knew that any Mrs. Johnston would also be able to supply the residents of Nopal, Texas (pop. 25) with any baked good requiring whole, grated nutmeg if it was needed. I was just amazed with that knowledge . . .

. . . . Five years ago, I took a detour and drove down Highway 108 from Yorktown to Smiley. I took notice as I approached the point where Nopal was.

However, the only evidence of Nopal, Texas (pop. 25), was a weather-stained, decomposing pile of grey lumber on top of a cement foundation hidden by weeds and mesquite trees.

If anyone in Nopal, Texas (pop. 25) requires nutmeg, they can order it online at:
http://www.kalyx.com/store/proddetail.cfm/ItemID/562018/CategoryID/1500/SubCatID/5/file.htm

My rental car continued on, silently ghosting past a mound of decaying lumber that used to be a general store where nutmeg and licorice sticks had once been sold.

3 Comments:

At 8:43 PM , Blogger Iwanski said...

If you need more nutmeg material, I will sell you my nutmeg story for eight cents.

One day when I was young, a friend told me that you could get high from nutmeg. So I found some nutmeg in the pantry.

Other kids were smoking weed and trying to get beer. Not me. Here I was trying to get a nutmeg buzz.

Not knowing how much you would have to take to get high, I stirred spoonful after spoonful of nutmeg into a glass of water.

Like a young Albert Hoffman, in the name of science, I counted to three and chugged the whole glass. It tasted so horrid.

I sat and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited. Nothing.

Just a wretched taste in my mouth that would not go away.

Soon, something stirred in my gut and, as you might exopect, I vomited.

The great nutmeg experiment was a total failure.

 
At 9:39 AM , Anonymous JohnB said...

I grew up in Yorktown and made many trips through Nopal on the way to Smiley, Nixon, and San Antonio. To me, Nopal's distinguishing feature is that it only has one city limit sign! I live in the Dallas area now, but whenever I head back to Yorktown, I still take 108 instead of 119 as it's more scenic, is 10 miles shorter, and my daughters get a kick out of Nopal.

 
At 6:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Born in 1940, I was born in Nopal, went to Clear Creek School thru 4th grade, grandparents (Winkelmann) buried at Sandy Gate Cemetery. Shopped at Nopal store as a kid all the time, parents members of the "Butcher Club" and the Saturday night stew suppers and ice cream socials, post office there, black smith shop, gin, store and store owner's house across road, church, and the cemetery was on a corner of our property across from the school. Can remember days before electricity and phone there and after service was out there. Remember getting up at 5AM to go to 7AM Mass at Holy Cross Catholic Church, Yorktown, and eating ice cream thereafter either at the Green Lantern or the Drug Store on the corner intersection with the old fashioned soda pop vendors, etc. and also being members of the Gruenau Hall and doing all those social things, wonderful times. Understand Gruenau Hall was burned down by some teenagers recently. Catherine Winkelmann Blaschke

 

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