Category Archives: Hodgepodge

Roy Hodge, Columnist - Roy began his career at The Fulton Patriot in February of 1959 as a linotype operator.  During his long career, he performed every newspaper job — from paper delivery to editor and publisher. He has entertained readers with tales of his family’s antics and many interesting Fulton residents in his long-running “Hodgepodge” column. Roy retired from The Fulton Patriot in June of 2010.

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Hodgepodge: November 12, 2012

by Roy Hodge

A few days ago I thought I had finally answered a question that I had asked much of my life. When I was very young and it was raining outside, my young inquisitive mind asked, “When it is raining, where does it stop?”

Everyone I asked looked down at me with a bewildered gaze, but no one had an answer. As I remember, some of them asked, “Why in the world would you ask that?”

A few days ago I was upstairs in my house when it was raining outside. Looking out the window that faces south it seemed to be raining hard and a lot of rain drops had accumulated on the outside of the window.

The scene was much the same looking towards the street outside the front window, which faces west.

Trying my best to be an impartial observer I hurried to the room with a north facing window. The road below was wet and I knew it had been raining, but from the window, with the trees blocking much of the view, I couldn’t tell how hard it was raining at that point of time.

Curious, I hurried downstairs, put on my hat and coat and headed outside.  Sure enough, outside the door on the south side of the house, it was raining, not too hard but steadily. The rain continued as I walked up the driveway and around the front of the house.

As I walked toward the corner and turned, the rain seemed to have stopped. As I walked further, there was rain dripping from the trees, but away from the trees there was only a slight misty rain.

I continued walking to the back of the house, back to the driveway and the door where I had come out of the house a minute ago. It was still raining steadily on that side of the house.

After all these years I had the answer to my question: When it is raining it stops when you turn the corner in front of your house. Why did it take me so long to figure that out?

Now I can work on a different problem. Where are all those missing socks, and why is it that I never lose the ones with holes in them?

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I received a note this week from Patrick LeClair of Somers, N.Y.  He noted that this month will mark the third anniversary of the passing of his father, Alton “Al” LeClair.

From Patrick’s note: “You may find it of interest that my father never finished high school, however he had one of the best mechanical minds I’ve ever encountered. My Dad took a back seat to no one. With the exception of some brief coaching in his late 20’s, early 30’s by a local expert, my Dad was self-taught.”

In this column the week Al died, I wrote: “Al was my friend, and in recent years, the caretaker of my collection of antique clocks. Al was a skilled clock repairman and always seemed to know what to do when one of my clocks stopped ticking, tocking or chiming as expected.

“A trip to Al’s shop for one of my brood was not unlike a trip to the hospital. Many times after a quick look at the clock, Al knew exactly what the problem was and could fix it immediately, but suggested that I leave the patient with him for a couple of days so he could check it more thoroughly and make sure it was running properly.

“When I went back to Al’s shop to pick up the repaired clock it was no quick exchange. Sometimes Al would wrap the clock securely and place it carefully in a cardboard carton for the trip home.  Other times the process seemed more like picking your child up from the day care center. Al would bring the clock carefully out to the car and place it on the seat.  Then he would wrap a towel around it and fasten it with the seat belt.  And there I was, ready for the trip home – in the driver’s seat with my seat-belted passenger behind me in the back seat.

“My clocks and I had a friend in Al LeClair. He will be missed.”

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397
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Hodgepodge: November 3, 2012

by Roy Hodge

If you’re a football fan, you might think the phrase “Who Dat?” originated with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and their chant, “Who Dat?, Who Dat? Who Dat dey say gonna beat dem Saints?”

Those football fans may be partially right. That two-word question probably did originate in New Orleans, not with the Saints but over a century ago, and was popular with minstrel shows, vaudeville acts, jazz and big bands throughout the Big Band era, and U. S. soldiers during   World War II.

A common minstrel show tag line was “Who dat?” answered by “Who dat say who dat?”

The Marx Brothers had a “Who Dat?” routine in their 1930s film, “A Day at the Races,” and in the cartoon musical, “Spring Wedding,” caricatures of Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Ethel Waters and the Mills Brothers portrayed frogs in a swamp performing minstrel show jokes and jazz tunes while repeatedly asking “Who Dat?”

“Who Dat?” lyrics from 1937:

“Who dat up there, who dat down there…Who dat up there sayin’ who dat down there…When I see you up there, well who dat down there…Who dat inside, who dat outside…Who dat inside singin’, who dat outside…Who dat up there, who dat down there…Who dat up there singin’, who dat down there…Who dat?

“Who Dat?” made it to Bourbon Street, but probably not for the first time, after the Saints defeated the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game in the Superdome in 2010. “Who Dat,? Who Dat,? Who Dat in the Super Bowl?” they chanted. The Saints defeated the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 to more “Who Dat?” chanting.

“Who Dat?” became popular as a chant for football fans cheering on their favorite teams. It may have started at Southern University or at high schools in New Orleans or in Patterson, La. In the late 70s, fans at Alcorn State University and Louisiana State University were using the cheer.

In the 1980s, the cheer became so popular among fans that the Saints organization officially adopted it and Saints players recorded a version of “When the Saints Go Marching In” that incorporated the chant, “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?”

There have been at least 10 recorded versions of “Who Dat?’ and many hip hop renditions including one in 2012 in which New Orleans’ G. Easy raps “livin’ in New Orleans where dem people holler ‘Who Dat.?’” In recent years the phrase “Who Dat Nation” has become a popular term for the entire community of Saints fans.

Enough of Dat.

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I was told during a phone call by someone who had read about our recent trip to New Orleans, “You ate an awful lot.” My response to that observation is “Yes, we do eat a lot, that’s one of the things we plan to do when we go there.” We think it would be silly not to; there are so many good things to choose from. We also walk a lot.

By the way, I should also add to our food list: several cups of coffee au lait, and another New Orleans special brew, coffee with chicory, which is how coffee comes in New Orleans, and a couple of Abita, locally brewed beers.

(Note: From the dictionary: Chicory is a perennial plant; its root is used roasted and ground as a substitute or additive for coffee.)

Life style is a bit different in New Orleans. One thing you’ll notice if you haven’t already tucked yourself into bed, is that some drinking establishments are open 24 hours a day and drinking (out of plastic cups) is allowed on city streets.

The city of New Orleans is not required to close its bars at any particular time.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

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Hodgepodge: October 13, 2012

by Roy Hodge

I was really surprised last week to open the morning paper and read a story about Susan Graverson of Oneida and her grandmother’s recipe book.

The article was an interesting one and I was surprised because I had just sent my most recent weekly column to Valley News editor Andy Henderson the night before. The topic? My grandmother’s recipe book.

I actually have two copies of that cookbook. The most treasured one is the battered old “Collegiate Looseleaf Notebook” that I wrote about last week. Grandma could have easily entered the first recipe in that book shortly after 1908 when she was married. That little book has been in our family for over 100 years.

The second book of the two was copied from the first in 1956 in a composition book exactly like the one Susan is holding in last week’s newspaper article, but much less tattered.

My grandmother’s housemate, Inez, thought she was doing Grandma a favor by re-writing all of the recipes from the tattered book into a second book. My grandmother wasn’t as pleased as Inez thought she would be and I am really glad that Inez didn’t dispose of that original book.

There are a couple of other things that I wanted to tell you about Grandma’s cookbook.  Throughout the book, flour is flower. As I read that, I was thinking that my grandmother probably copied it the way it was in her mother’s cookbook. I also noticed my grandmother’s unique spelling of “cukecumber,” “viniger,” and “jelley.”

There is also some good medical advice along with the recipes.  From the inside of the front cover: “For nuritis get Nuritizone. For pimples – 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar in 1/2 glass of water or more. Take for 3 mornings then skip 3 mornings for 9 mornings.”

One more–Good tonic: Gray’s Glycerine Tonic. My grandmother apparently received that advice and recipe from “Brownie,” who could have been her good friend, Mabel Brown — Mrs. to me.

Many recipes in the book are clipped from newspapers and pinned to the cookbook’s pages with straight “common” pins. The recipes in Grandma’s book were undoubtedly enjoyed by many friends and family members — except maybe for the medicine and tonic.

Tucked in the back of Grandma’s recipe book is a copy of a little booklet, “Aunt Jenny’s Favorite Recipes.” I’m not surprised.  “Aunt Jenny,” along with “Helen Trent” and “My Gal Sunday,” was a “must-listen-to-every-week-day lunch time radio show” in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was growing up. When I was at my grandmother’s house for lunch the radio was on and I listened along.

My grandmother most likely received that cookbook in the mail after sending Aunt Jenny her request along with a label from a can of “Spry,” Aunt Jenny’s longtime sponsor, and a stamp on the envelope.

Aunt Jenny’s little cookbook is a lot like her radio show was. She taste tests everything on her husband, Calvin, and anyone else who came near her house and kitchen, or anyplace in town, to have something to eat. That cast would include her sewing circle, her neighbors, the postman, and Grandpa Briggs at the Old Soldiers’ Home.

Looking through Aunt Jenny’s little cookbook reminded me of something that I thought was very special. A delicious treat that I remember from my grandmother’s kitchen was something that Grandma always had for anyone who happened to be nearby when she was baking a pie.

I never moved far from Grandma’s kitchen when it was pie-baking time because I knew that my patience would pay off with something delicious. That tasty morsel is listed in Aunt Jenny’s little cookbook among a group of recipes listed as “Uses for Leftover Pastry.”

In her cookbook, Aunt Jenny says, “I use my pie-dough scraps for makin’ these ‘little pies.’ My grandchildren are always beggin’ for ‘em.”

I can vouch for that statement.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397
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Hodgepodge: September 29, 2012

by Roy Hodge

Following a visit with grandson Marcus a week ago (his mom and dad were there, too) I noticed that I wasn’t too frisky for a few days during the following week.

Marcus likes to run, to chase and be chased. When we are walking, it is great fun for him to get a few steps ahead of me, wait until he hears me catching up to him, then run way in front again, laughing all the way.

Marcus likes anything on wheels, but right now it is trucks that he really likes. He loves trucks of all sizes, including the little ones he pushes around on the floor, and the big construction vehicles that Daddy takes him up the road to see.

Adam said Marcus was especially fascinated recently by a huge Harvester that even a fully grown climber would need two step ladders to get into the cab.

I think Marcus leans towards red as his favorite color, not just for trucks, but for everything – but he pronounces the word purple as well as any of us adults present could have while he was playing with his newest toys.

He kept himself busy for a long time pushing his little trucks back and forth while making some very impressive “brmm-brmm” motor sounds – and for added excitement he happily discovered that his slide made a perfect mountain for his little trucks to maneuver.

We received a picture recently of Marcus proudly helping Daddy show off the large bass that he had caught.

Being two is sure exciting.

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Over the weekend I picked up the little book of some of Muriel Allerton’s writings put together in the 90s by her son, Paul.

There is humor, of course:

“I don’t know about others of my gender, but I must have at least 20 pocketbooks ranging in age from one to at least 33 years.  They are stowed in a big box in my closet, and occasionally nostalgia will move me to explore their contents and use them again.

“All of the scraps of life – chewing gum, Tums wrappers, notes on the back of supermarket receipts, plus passages from books that I wanted to remember, were still in many of them.

“There was the scribbled joke about the man who was sick of life and went into a monastery where he took vows of poverty and silence. His assignment was to work in the fields without a word for a year after which he was told that he was entitled to two words. His first year’s utterance was ‘Food bad.’ At the end of the second year he said, ‘Bed bad.’  The following year, after his stint in the fields, he said, ‘I quit.’  The priest in charge then replied, ‘Good. All you’ve done is complain since you got here.’”

There’s information:

“October reminds us that it is time to hunker down. According to a wonderful book, ‘All About Months,’ by Mamie R. Krythe that I picked up at a garage sale years ago, October means ‘eighth’ in Latin, but then the Romans changed their calendar to make it the tenth month. The Romans liked it and refused to change it to conform to accuracy, no matter what.

“In northern European countries, October was known as wine month because that is when the grapes were harvested and the liquid confection made. There were rains and some snow in early New England Octobers called ‘squaw winter’ followed by ‘Indian summer.’ It was then that the natives could hunt and lay in more food for the winter.”

 To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397
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Hodgepodge: September 22, 2012

by Roy Hodge

Looking through old issues of The Fulton Patriot this week, I came across a column I wrote that brought back memories. It told of my grandparents spending the evening with their friends and neighbors, the Cranes, on Halloween. It seemed to be a tradition.

The good friends would get together at one of their homes, which were across the street from each other. After asking us grandchildren and neighborhood friends to “come early” to get our treats, they would turn the lights down low, and share door answering duties while fitting in some conversation and some treats of their own.

Living across the street from each other wasn’t their only connection. My grandfather and Mr. Crane worked together for many years at the Lasher Hardware Co. in downtown Syracuse.

The Cranes were quite a few years older than my grandparents, and fittingly, their car was much older than the jaunty 1940-something bright blue Pontiac that my grandfather drove. But I thought Mr. Crane’s old car was “neat.” It seemed to be a couple of feet taller than my grandfather’s car; it had “running boards”, and an “ooga-ooga” horn.

I also remember for some reason that the Crane’s telephone had to be cranked to get an operator to place a call for them. Boy, they must have been old.

The Cranes’ home was different than the other houses on Kenmore Ave. My grandfather told me that it was the oldest house on the street, and at one time was part of a busy farm.  The barn was still standing and was used by Mr. Crane as a garage.

When my grandparents lived across the street their home and the other houses on the street were much newer than the Crane house – but not new.

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I told you last week about a law that I thought might still be in the books in Gary, Indiana: “It is illegal to take a street car or go to the theater within four hours of eating garlic.”

I first came up with that information several years ago when I was reading “The Book of Garlic,” the garlic lovers’ bible. That very useful book also offers the following advice: “For an earache: Place a peeled but uncut clove of garlic in the ear. Let it sit in the ear through the day.

“If it’s a headache that’s bothering you, apply garlic to the temples in a poultice. For whooping cough place a poultice of chopped garlic on the feet.  If acne is your problem, rub the pimples with a cut clove of garlic several times a day.”

Garlic is also described as just the thing to cure poison ivy, athlete’s foot, insomnia, and as a perfect aphrodisiac.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397