Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Three French Hens & Key Lime Pie

Christmas Day 1961
Our first Christmas Day as newlyweds.

No Christmas cookies made yet but I did make a delicious Key Lime Pie today from the Key Limes shown below, handpicked for me in Florida by a beautiful young woman from her parents' tree. Thank you, Amy, they were delicious!

May I illustrate my story of the Three French Hens with a couple of pictures of my pie?

Well, of course I can. How are you going to object?

I was 18, recently graduated from high school and married to R.H. in the fall after going to work at a big religious publishing house. I was the baby of the department I worked in. Next youngest were staff in their forties.

In December we were all invited to the department Christmas party, a dinner held at the home of our boss, Dr. Burton. There were three editors and their wives, the boss's secretary and her husband, and two single ladies who were editorial assistants, and lowly me, the new receptionist.

Dressed in my Sunday best, I went alone as I could not talk R.H. into going with me.

The party was in a beautiful house, the host and hostess gracious as Southern men and women of that time excelled at being. I managed to behave reasonably well by keeping my mouth shut and listening to my betters except for polite replies to their questions, mainly expressing their regret that they would be unable to meet my young husband. 

My table manners passed approval, I think, but then the after dinner entertainment was announced. Beautifully beribboned scrolls were passed around the table with the words to all the verses of "The 12 Days of Christmas."

Dr. Burton said, "We need 12 people to do this properly but since Mr. Callis was unable to come tonight, I'll take the first and last verses."

I blushed at being the center of stares at that but then I blushed at the drop of a hat in those days. My part in the following entertainment? I had the third verse, which meant I had to sing my solo NINE times. That one is, if you remember, the Three French Hens line and I was beet red before, during and after each time I had to somehow get the line out. 

I think every person at the table that night was in their church choir and one man was the music director of his. Not me. I was not tone deaf. No, I knew perfectly well what each tone was as I had studied piano for eight years, but I never hit the right notes, not once.

My children used to beg me NOT to sing as soon as they could talk. I think their first full sentence was:
"No, Mama, don't sing."

My co-workers politely ignored my sour off key words…"Three French Hens." But they never again asked me to sing.

It was very good pie.

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