Saturday, October 10, 2009


A couple of years ago I decided to take a simple subject and see if I could expound upon it to make an entire piece out of it. The subject was “nutmeg” and my posting about got quite a few responses from far and wide.

You can read it here.

Since “nutmeg” worked so well, this posting shall be about “cinnamon.”

Cinnamon . . . .

Okay, first of all, I’ve never particularly liked the flavoring of cinnamon.

Candies and gums from the 1960s that featured cinnamon flavors always seemed to burn my mouth and have a sort of “skunky” flavor.

I didn’t even like cinnamon toast, but my younger brother did.

When I was in the third grade, my parents were going through a difficult separation. My younger brother, Brad, and I were sent to live with our paternal grandmother (Granny) who lived 30 miles away from my little bitty home town.

Granny lived in the next-over little-bitty-home-town and it was even smaller than my own little-bitty one. Granny was also the principle at the local junior high school, my Uncle Nathan (her son) was the principle at the high school, and my Aunt Dixie was an elementary school teacher nearby. All three were in a two-block radius.

(The cinnamon connection will come in a little bit, I assure you.)

Even though my brother and I were going through a difficult, splitting-up family situation and being sent to an entirely different school, we were fortunate to have been surrounded by lots of family within the school system. I was in one room in the 3rd grade with my cousin, another cousin was in the 2nd grade and Brad was next door in the 1st grade.

Granny, Uncle Nathan, and Aunt Dixie were school officials in the very next buildings. (Believe me, none of us kids got away with anything, nor did we ever even think of trying to do so for that matter. Loving eyes were upon us at all times.)

Every day after school, the four of us kids rode the bus to the family ranch house where my aunt and uncle lived. After (literally) walking a mile down a dusty dirt road we’d be greeted by my Aunt Dixie who would have us all sit down and complete our homework. (But after a really substantial, homemade snack had been supplied.)

She was a schoolteacher and would supervise our homework, mostly in math. I remember Aunt Dixie helping me and me cousin, Than (short for Nathan) with multiplication drills as well as math word-problems.

For about seven months, my younger brother, Brad, and I lived with Granny during that school term of 1967. She had a small house in town where we lived, away from the ranch house.

For some reason, I remember that Granny always prepared four slices of toast, each, for Brad and me every morning. She had a small toaster-oven rather than the usual pop-up toaster beside the table in the breakfast nook. (It was one of those 1940s tables with the curved chrome legs and the Formica table top.)

She’d prepare four slices of plain toast with butter for me (which I preferred) and then four slices of sugary cinnamon toast for Brad. She knew I didn’t like the sweet cinnamon toast but (hmmm) I can still remember that she sort of enjoyed preparing that “extra” cinnamon toast for Brad.

It was an unusually cold Winter that year of 1967, and I can remember my brother and I huddling in our pajamas on the floor by the gas heater under the chrome table legs, eating our four slices of buttered toast.

Brad’s had cinnamon.

Sure, four slices of buttery toast might not have been most nutritious breakfast for two little ones. But Granny had already been well-familiarized with the raising of two boys just two decades prior. (My dad and Uncle Nathan, who were two years apart just like Brad and me.)

She already knew that if you can fill up two hungry boy-tummies with breakfast . . Great.
If you can do it with something they like, do it efficiently, without them fighting . . .
. . . Even better.

Brad and I ate our toast every morning, huddled down in the corner by the heater. Granny was probably silently enjoying her coffee before planning her day being the principal of the local Junior High school.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that she was also a piano and violin instructor and gave me my first piano lessons during that time? She supplied me with weekly piano and violin lessons. (I hated the violin -- but ended up studying the piano for the rest of my life.)

Looking back, I realize that my grandmother was an incredibly talented woman. She definitely utilized a very powerful command over the direction of her own life . . .
. . . along a subtle use of it over those around her.

I only wish I could have known her much longer.

To this day, my favorite breakfast is toast, simply buttered.
That’s it.
Nothing else.

If I could eat it in my pajamas on a cold winter morning huddled up by a gas heater, all the better.

Brad likes cinnamon toast.


At 6:56 PM , Blogger Bad Alice said...

This is lovely. It made me think of my mom making cinnamon toast on winter mornings. I like cinnamon. I haven't made cinnamon toast for a while, but I sometimes make cinnamon tortillas.

Plain buttered toast is good, too.

At 8:23 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

I LOVE cinnamon toast. :) My Mom always made it for me when I was sick--it's real comfort food to me, too.

I'm not surprised you don't like it, though--you're not a "sweets" kind of guy, so a sugar/cinnamon mix on toast doesn't seem like your cup of tea.

At 10:08 AM , Anonymous Bro said...

Still love it!


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