My late friend and beloved editor Dave Hamrick summed up a writer’s puzzlement thus paraphrased):
“I can write my heart out with blood, sweat and tears, and dread to come in to work on Wednesday morning. But then I grab some notes and cobble something together long after deadline, just to get it in, and someone will tell me (through tears) that the column packed such a powerful message, it changed her life.”
That’s what happens when you throw some crumbs together, far too late on a Monday morning, and when it publishes on Wednesday, the phone starts ringing and e-mails start downloading, all telling me how much the reader loved it / hated it and you should never have put such sentiments in the public press.
This was about fruitcake. It was almost like a carefully crafted military exercise. One of the positive reactions was from Klaus Schoeffler, a longtime would-be editor and German coach who writes almost every time I refer to his Vaterland.
Fair’s fair, I guess. My daughter earns her living coaching singers who are neither German- nor English-speakers.
Klaus said: “Good Fruitcake and cheap is an Oxymoron. Forget Claxton, GA. The Best, but by far not the Cheapest comes from Gethsemani Farms in Kentucky, made by Trappist Monks at the Gethsemani Abbey.
“I soak it on arrival with Asbach Uralt and Gluehwein and have myself a feast for the Holidays…..
“PS. Besides being a lover of Stollen, imported from Dresden of course, my Southern Mother-in-Law, may she rest in Peace, also made a Fruitcake Connoisseur out of me. She made the Best.”
Joe Anglin wrote: “I enjoyed your article about fruitcakes on Christmas day. I make a fruitcake every two or three years, and though I have a good recipe, still few people will partake of it.
“So now when I make one I post the attached warning on the front door.
“The people in here have a fruit cake and you may be offered a serving of it.
“This notice is to give you a little extra time to explain why you don’t want any fruitcake. Please be original, here are some reasons for not wanting any we have already heard.
“I just ate a large piece of fruitcake on my way over here.
“I am allergic to pineapple/ cherries/ pecans,/ etc.
“I broke a tooth on a pecan shell in 1973 and eat nothing with pecans since.
“My next door neighbor works for Claxton and gets free fruitcakes, I have over 150 in the trunk of my car.
“Vanilla flavoring breaks me out all over my body.
“I am on a 1200 calorie/day diet and had two Big Macs and a large order of fries for lunch.
“Not now, but I will take a large slice with me and eat it later.
“I didn’t know a fruitcake was food!
“I can’t stay, I just remembered I promised to help my uncle kill a hog today.”
And thanks to the employee at Peachtree City Kroger in Braelinn, Peachtree City, that described the conflicting stories. “We couldn’t give them away last year, had them marked them down to a quarter, and then didn’t order enough this season. By the time we realized we’d need more, our supplier had run out.”
A Tyrone woman, whose name I failed to note was kind enough to tell me there were still a half-dozen Claxton Fruitcakes at the Publix in her town, and while she is not really fond of them herself, she proved herself a good neighbor by taking the trouble to call. She even added that they were a BOGO, one of those Buy One, Get One free offers.
In spite of one of those frog-stranglers we had earlier this week, Dave said, “C’mon, let’s go,” and headed for the garage. Within perhaps 15 minutes he had two fruitcakes in his grip and the car heading back to town..
Despite my urging him not to bolt these delicious treasures, one was gone in two days and the other already cut. He tried to persuade me that he was just trying to keep them from getting stale.
Sorry, Hon, that won’t cut it. Fruitcake is unbelievably long-lived. I won’t say they never get stale, but I’m sure somewhere there’s a 10-year-old noshing a fruitcake his mother received the Christmas season when he was born.
[Sallie Satterthwaite of Peachtree City has been writing for The Citizen since our first issue Feb. 10, 1993. Before that she had served as a city councilwoman and as a volunteer emergency medical technician. She is the only columnist we know who has a fire station named for her. Her email is SallieS@Juno.com.]