Archived Story

Cardinal Charlie: Mush or mashed potatoes a treat with syrup

Published 10:38pm Wednesday, August 1, 2012

You know I sometimes wonder how did people manage to get along without autos, trucks, radios, TV and a million other things we people of today take for granted.

We have a phone system in our house where three of us can talk to someone who calls us if we want.

It’s nice if there are two people on the line who are calling us.

The other day I had misplaced one of the three phones, so my wife took our cell phone and called our home phone and she found it ringing in the La-Z-Boy chair, where it got pushed down when I fell asleep watching a late TV program.

I’m still trying to find out who or how I had a nice cardinal left on my front porch.

There sure is a difference in the term of the word neighbor. It doesn’t mean the same as it did when I was growing up in the ’30s.

Now that we are over one of the easiest Michigan winters I can remember, in those old winters of the ’30s, my dad had two old wooden barrels buried in our back yard.

We covered the barrels with straw and an old piece of carpet.

In these barrels we put our carrots, potatoes and maybe apples.

Well, when I got married I had the same idea, so I made a couple of good-sized wooden boxes to replace the barrels.

But we buried these inside of our big metal shed so we had no snow that had to be removed when I sent one of our two boys out to get something in the barrels in the spring.

You got down to the bottom of the barrel you sometimes found one or two toads. How they got there was always a mystery to me.

Here is something I used to like in the ’30s. It was cornmeal mush. We used to have this for our morning cereal at breakfast. If it was not all eaten, we put it in the icebox and it became solidified, so then we could have what I called fried mush, which was a favorite of mine when I put some maple syrup on it.

Nine years ago I found in one of our grocery stores in the cooler section a package of cornmeal mush ready to slice and fry.

Another thing that my wife used to do for our two boys was to make some patties out of leftover mashed potatoes.

Our boys put maple syrup on these also.

Remember Postum, a drink that was a substitute for coffee or maybe tea?

Did you ever add onions to your scrambled eggs?

Back in the 1930s my family was so poor, flies had to carry a lunch when they came to our house. Ha! Ha!

Actually, I did grow up as a poor kid in the ’30s.

Another thing I can remember, lots of people used to make homemade root beer, and it was 1953 when we welcomed 7UP.

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. Email him at

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