Sunday, September 16, 2012
Dining on the lane in White City
A time when a large house at the end of a road served as the flagship to a visibly thriving community while at the same time offering a place to gather, dine and live. My great grandmother's boarding house at the end of Yadkin Street (known as the The Lodge in White City) in what was then referred to as Model City may, for some onlookers today, simply resemble a group of white houses situated consecutively along several blocks in Kingsport, Tennessee. However, in reality the neighborhood is a living testament to what really counts among people living in communion.
I had the opportunity to join the residents of Yadkin Street for a modern day "White City Reunion." There were children playing in a grassy green common area, adults congregating along driveways to chat and house tours for the merely curious. Clearly an interloper walking into this scene would immediately understand that the aspect of living that this neighborly environment had retained over the years is the ability for the residents (in this two-block radius) to celebrate themselves and those that once resided there. In attendance at the occasion were several generations of families, neighbors who had moved away, boarders who had lived at The Lodge and my father and I connected by family affiliation. The stories that dominated the day were about the boarding house. Who lived there, when they lived there, what they would find to eat there, what happened there at a specific point in time, and the old lady who ruled the property with an iron fist (my great grandmother).
Imagine if you will a woman and her family lured to a town revolving around the business acumen of George Eastman to operate a boarding house where the company's young single executives would live. And that property just happened to be part of a development that was characterized as "designed for the workman with the idea that every worker in the city could own their own home." There's no imagination needed to garner the fact that my great grandmother was a woman wise to the opportunistic fortune with which she found herself ~at least that's what I'm led to believe. And believe it or not this post is about the food one finds in such a quaint little collective of Americana.
The meal of barbecue and side dishes was spread out along a buffet line. And though that may sound rather ordinary it was not, because of the very nature of the gathering, but also because of one specific food dish (and maybe the banana pudding). What stood out along this long smorgasbord of options was a delightfully layered dish of Cornbread Salad. Something new to me, but apparently rather common to those in attendance as many were amused at my glee to eat this dish. There are a ton of recipes offered online with only subtle differences in the ingredients that are used to prepare the dish.
It's those subtle differences that bring me back around to my point in telling this story of a neighborhood. That is, a physical place may shift and bend with the changing times and trends, but the essence of what makes it wholly a place to return to remains the same~a place one can always call home even after being pulled away by life.