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Jim Aylward: A simple sighting conjures up memories of long ago

Packages of Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup take Jim Aylward back to the Bowling Alley, Korea, in 1953.

Courtesy of Jim Aylward

Packages of Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup take Jim Aylward back to the Bowling Alley, Korea, in 1953.

There is a wonderful old song called These Foolish Things. It's all about little things that remind one of times gone by — "A cigarette that bears a lipstick's traces . . . " Life is really like that.

Recently I was shopping in a supermarket, walking down the aisles, casually looking at things, and saw packages of Lipton's Chicken Noodle Soup. Instantly I was transported to a place called the Bowling Alley, Korea, 1953. I had just completed a tour of Pork Chop Hill and Baldy, and had survived. And at last I had gotten a job as a supply clerk and was in a reasonably safe reserve area away from the front. My mother sent me a care package, and in it was melba toast, strawberry jam and Lipton's Chicken Noodle Soup.

Sgt. Diaz suggested I ask the mess sergeant for a container so we could cook the soup on our potbelly stove. I did, and he said, "I'll do better than that. Invite me over. I'll bring the pot, some real chicken and some vegetables from the kitchen, and I'll cook us a real feast!" And he did. (Isn't it funny . . . I don't remember his name, but I remember the soup.)

Whenever I encounter bad drivers in Florida (almost every time I drive), I'm reminded of worse drivers in Massachusetts. Here they drive on your tail, no matter what. As I try to turn, they're still on my bumper, not allowing an inch.

In Massachusetts, they do something unbelievable, and they do it regularly. They are on a side street. You're on the main drag, and traffic is heavy. They don't care. They pull the front of their vehicle — the hood and the front tires — into your path as the traffic is moving, and they stop you, because they want to. Only in Massachusetts. I drove in New York City, and no one did that.

When I see those Cialis commercials that end with two claw-foot bathtubs on a beach in the moonlight, I'm reminded that we had a claw- foot tub when I was a kid. Almost everybody had claw tubs in the '30s and '40s. What we didn't have, however, was hot water. We had to heat it in buckets on the stove and then lug it upstairs to the tub. Then we poured it in and had maybe 2 inches of water. We then added cold water to cool it, and that sometimes made it too cool. But we got in the tub and struggled with it and had a Saturday night bath, of sorts. So to me, the old claw tub is not very romantic.

I once worked at a radio station in Rochester, N.H. The program director and I became friends. Ed McHale then moved to Worcester, Mass., station WTAG, and Ed and Louise, his wife, asked me to visit. Barbara, the woman I was dating, and I joined the McHales for a terrific evening. Afterward, evidently the girls decided I was a little too zonked to drive, so they took me back to the house and proceeded to make me breakfast with a pot of strong coffee. Barbara said she would scramble me some eggs. She used a wooden spoon, and she slowly moved the eggs over low heat from side to side until they were fluffy and soft. Perfect!

Louise then said, "Jim, if Barbara can make you eggs like this, I think you'd better sign her up!" I smiled and sobered up very quickly. I then drove Barbara safely home.

I never signed her up. I decided to make my own scrambled eggs just as she did, and I've been doing it ever since. Every time I make a scrambled egg, there she is, in that little kitchen in Worcester in 1957.

These foolish things remind me.

New Port Richey resident Jim Aylward was formerly a nationally syndicated columnist and radio host in New York City. Write him in care of LifeTimes, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

Jim Aylward: A simple sighting conjures up memories of long ago 04/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 11:08am]
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