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The crypt marker

On July 27, 1927, the Companions of Nashville Council No. 1, Royal and Select Masons, gathered on the southeast corner of the Tennessee state capitol grounds in downtown Nashville to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the council’s founding.

Thanks to a joint resolution of the Tennessee General Assembly, they were able to mark the anniversary by burying a time capsule to be opened by the members of Nashville Council No. 1 100 years later, on July 27, 2027.

The time capsule was buried in a crypt and a triangular column was erected over it, with a copper plate on top telling the world what was inside and when it would be opened.

The same Companions who buried the time capsule wrote the script for a ceremony to be held every year on July 27 until the crypt is opened.

It was their way of crossing the generations to continue the bond of brotherly love that is a hallmark of our fraternity.

Eighty-eight years later, I was among the dozen or so Companions of Nashville Council No. 1, Royal and Select Masons, to mark the occasion with a short ceremony this evening at the crypt.

BothellSentinelCitizen-CouncilNo1Crypt-July-16-1927The quiet, elegant ceremony has been held every year. Generations of Masons have come and gone but the fellowship has endured, as tonight we noted their undertaking and sang songs of patriotism and fraternity from another time.

I hope that I am around in 12 years when we open the crypt.

According to news stories from the time, they included pictures of the members, several  Masonic items and a variety of seeds, including wheat, corn, rye, oats, barley and tobacco.

They put everything in a copper box and filled the void with coal tar to keep out moisture and the elements. Inside the box, the seeds were hermetically sealed. There’s supposed to be a note inside, too, asking that the seeds be planted whenever they are unsealed.

I can’t wait to harvest some of that corn one day.

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A red, white and blue flower honor the Companions of Nashville Council No. 1, Royal and Select Masons of generations past.

The thing about history is it tends to repeat itself on a fairly regular basis.

Take laws regulating marriage, for example. In 1967, the US Supreme Court finally heard a case involving interracial marriage.

A Virginia couple — he was white and she was black and Native American — got married in Washington, D.C. in 1958 because it was illegal to do that in their home state. Five weeks later they were charged with violating the state’s miscegenation law, which not only made it illegal for a white person and black person to get married, but also made it illegal for them to cross the state lines to get married where it was legal.

After today’s Supreme Court ruling and the heated rhetoric about what that will eventually lead to, I decided to look up the 1967 case in the New York Times. I chose the NY Times for no other reason than I have a digital subscription that gives me access to its archives all the way back to the 1850s.

I found a story in the April 11, 1967 edition written by Fred Graham, who covered the arguments the day before.

(The name was familiar so I looked him up. Fred Graham is a native of Nashville who went on to work for CBS and CourtTV after his stint with the Times ended in the 1970s.)

According to the story, attorneys for the state of Virginia claimed the state had as much right regulating interracial marriage as it did to ban polygamy and incest. (Sound familiar?). Then there was this gem:

He (Assistant Attorney General R.D. McIllwaine 3rd ) said that Virginia’s “strong policy” against interracial marriage was based upon strong scientific evidence. As proof he waved a thick volume entitled “Intermarriage – Interfaith, Interracial, Interethnic,” by Dr. Albert I. Gordon.

Mr. McIllwaine cited statements by Dr. Gordon that interracial marriages were often contracted by rebellious individuals to express their social hostility. He said that “the progeny are the martyrs” of such unions, and contended that the state had a legitimate interest in preventing them.

In other words, the state’s primary interest was in the children’s welfare. (That also sounds familiar.)

The American Civil Liberties Union, arguing on behalf of the couple, used a familiar argument, too.

An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union compared Virginia’s antimiscegenation laws with the laws of Nazi Germany and South Africa and urged the Justices to strike down the system of statutes that dates back to 1691.

The attorney, Philip J. Hirschkop, of Alexandria, Va., said Virginia’s laws denied Negroes the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

“They are slavery laws, pure and simple – the most odious of the segregation laws,” he said.

Virginia then countered with a legislative intent argument.

Assistant Attorney General R.D. McIllwaine 3rd of Virginia leaned heavily on the argument that none of the framers of the 14th amendment intended to outlaw statutes against racial intermarriage.

“If any had suggested this, it would not have passed,” he said.

As usually happens in America, though, right beat might, and the court ruled in the couple’s favor, striking down 15 other state laws that barred people of different races from marrying.

But I found an interesting bit of information in the article as well. According to Virginia law in place in 1967, a white person was defined as one who has “no trace of any blood other than Caucasian.”

Family tradition holds that my mom’s paternal grandmother was a quarter Native American, which would have meant my parents would have broken the law if they had gotten married in Virginia instead of Texas in 1950. And I went to a lot of places that it might have been illegal for me to go that summer we spent in Virginia in 1964.

A simple man

Lynyrd Skynyrd is coming to town next month, but I’m not going to see them.

Truth be known, I’ve never been much of a concert-goer.

But there was that time in the summer of ’76. I was 19 and enjoying a fairly easy existence, working my way through college as a part-time welder, which gave me spending money and helped me pay tuition.

I had some extra spending money and a bunch of friends were going to see J. Geils, Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top in concert at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans in July 1976.

So I joined in, riding with Merrill and Robert and several others in their dad’s work van to New Orleans. We had a great time, drank a lot of beer on the way and even more when we got there. Legal age then was 18, though we’d been partying together since we were in junior high.

The football field was packed and we ended up sitting in the stands of the old stadium, the former home of the New Orleans Saints that hosted one of the early Super Bowls before the Superdome was built.

The Saints were housed in the dome by 1976 and even Tulane played its games in the dome by then.

J. Geils was up first and put on a decent show, from what I remember. It was late afternoon and hot and by the time they came on, we’d consumed a lot of beer and partook of things that weren’t legal for us to to do, if you know what I mean. The old metal stadium was rocking and rolling.

Lynyrd Skynyrd was supposed to be up next, but they had plane trouble and cancelled at the last minute.

A big fight broke out on the field when they announced Lynard Skynyrd was a no-show. The police started clubbing people, including a woman who stood in their way asking them to stop clubbing people.

That’s when everybody started throwing things at the cops. Tear gas and beer bottles went flying through the air on the football field.

We were in the stands, but we did make some strategic throws with beer bottles. Someone threw an ice chest over the top of the stadium as the police left with a couple of guys in handcuffs. it landed near the cops and ice flew all over.

ZZ Top came out after things calmed down and put on a hell of a show.

The riot was so ugly that Tulane never allowed another concert there and they eventually tore the stadium down.

A year later, three Lynard Skynyrd members died when the same plane that broke down before our concert crashed in Mississippi on its way to Baton Rouge.

I’ll probably stay home and watch TV when they’re in town next month. I’m just a simple man.

Supremo

I have loved Pizza Hut’s supreme sandwiches ever since I moved to Florida and discovered no one there knew how to make a good po-boy.

I used to eat them for lunch all the time, even when I moved back to Louisiana. (I mean you can only eat so many shrimp po-boys, you know.) And then I moved to Tennessee and had neither.

For some reason, as soon as I crossed the state line, Pizza Hut quit selling sandwiches. I was devastated. No po-boys. No supreme sandwiches. And with the demise of the old Pizza Hut in Thibodaux, I couldn’t even a get a Pizza Hut sandwich when I went back to visit.

So I made my own. Here’s all you need:

Small loaf French bread — 6-8 inches will do
Thinly sliced deli black forest ham
Thinly sliced deli salami (I used Genoa salami)
Thinly sliced deli pepperoni
Sliced provolone cheese
Creamy Italian dressing
Lettuce and sliced tomatoes if you’re into that kind of thing on a sandwich. (I’m not.)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Slice the bread lengthways, stopping just before you slice it in two

Open the bread like a book with the cut side up on a cookie sheet

Put a slice of ham, then a slice of salami, then a slice of pepperoni on one side (or 2 of each if you want)

Put a slice of provolone (or 2) on the other side

Bake the open sandwich in the oven until the cheese is bubbly (10 minutes or so)

Remove from the oven.

If you must, this is the time to put the rabbit food on.

Drizzle Italian dressing on the sandwich and then close it.

Cut in two. Serve with a  cold beverage and potato chips (Ruffles is what Pizza Hut used).

Adapted from a July 2011 Facebook note

I’ve never liked tuna salad.

There was something about its fishiness that just never really appealed to me when I was growing up.

I felt the same about chicken salad, but in that case, it was the dish’s blandness that never got me past the mushy texture enough to like it.

Plus, I’m not a fan of raw onion or celery and both dishes seem to always incorporate them.

My mom tried. Friends have tried. My ex wife tried. I just never cared for either type of sandwich.

Until the day of my mom’s funeral, when I bit into one of my cousin Jeannie’s chicken salad sandwiches by accident, thinking that it was an egg salad sandwich instead.

It was heavenly. I ate several sandwich halves. It incorporated chopped egg and egg salad is one of my favorite sandwiches. (The first I learned to make.)

Jeannie has fed many a church function with her chicken salad sandwiches, using an industrial sized recipe that involves a food processor, a whole chicken (deboned), a dozen boiled eggs, almost a whole jar of mayonnaise and a variety of other ingredients that include bell pepper, green onions and pickles.

Her recipe makes 35 sandwiches. I haven’t tried it yet.

I was watching “Chef at Home” on the Ion channel the other day and chef Michael Smith made tuna salad sandwiches using canned tuna, which got me to thinking: What would Jeannie’s chicken salad taste like with tuna.

I like sashimi tuna and tuna sushi, so why not give canned tuna a try again? I picked up a couple of cans of white tuna packed in olive oil, thinking that olive oil has to be better for you than briny water.

I experimented on Saturday and today. I may be on to something.

1 can of white chunky tuna in oil, drained and pulled apart with a fork

2 boiled eggs, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of mayonnaise

1 tablespoon of sweet or dill pickle relish

black pepper to taste

a few shakes of onion powder

a couple of shakes of paprika

a pinch of cayenne pepper powder

Mix the eggs, tuna, mayonnaise and relish together, then add the seasonings and mix some more.

This will make at least six sandwiches. I halved the recipe on Saturday, but ended up throwing away the extra half can of tuna. (That stuff smells bad in the fridge, even in a sealed bag.)

I’m going to try a variation on this with chicken next time I have leftovers.

Just east of Dull

I haven’t blogged much because there hasn’t been much to blog about.

I picked a cabin style I like, worked out financing with my credit union, found a contractor to handle the foundation, found a supplier for my cistern and its components, and moved the land cost off my credit cards before interest kicked in.

While that’s a lot of activity, it’s mostly phone calls, emails and texts.

The biggest issue I am facing right now is getting the grass cut so ticks and chiggers aren’t a problem.

I’m not doing so well with that.

I didn’t winterize my lawn mower and ended up putting bad gas in it last week. The short version is it won’t start. The longer version is that no matter what I do, it won’t start.

Since I only paid $120 for the lawn mower new, I can’t see me spending money at a repair shop. I cut half the yard with my weed eater last week. I couldn’t grasp an object the day after. So this afternoon, in a feat of genius, I bought a Fiskar reel mower.

I blogged about wanting a Fiskar a few years ago. It’s a beautiful machine, well built and stout as all get out. But I didn’t find out until I got it back to The Ridge and all put together that it won’t cut anything that’s taller than 6 inches.

Fiskars reel mower

Fiskars reel mower

The grass and weeds in my yard are much higher than six inches right now.

The Fiskar made a dent in the grass. You can see where I pushed it in the really thick area. But tomorrow, I’ll stop at Harbor Freight on my way back and pick up a corded weed eater and something to hold the trigger down while I get the grass low enough to use my new Fiskar.

The old lawn mower? I’ll pick up a spark plug kit at Harbor Fright, too, and clean the plug to see if that will make a difference.

But I probably won’t do that for a few weeks while I concentrate on getting the grass down to a manageable height. I’ve basically spent the last month or so up there watching the grass grow.

Did I mention that The Ridge is just east of Dull?

Chair-ish the thought

It was like spending time with an old friend the way the recliner eased back with a slight nudge when I sat in it after I got it home Monday night.

This was no ordinary recliner. I recovered from a tonsillectomy in that chair. I spent countless Saturdays and Sundays watching football in that chair. I even watched the Saints win the Super Bowl in it.

When Carolyn asked if I wanted it, I jumped at the offer.

I thought it would fit in the backseat of my car, but after wrestling with it for 10 minutes, I realized I’d need a pickup. In the end, I rented one after work and picked up the chair this past Monday.

I couldn’t wait to sit in it again. I spent many hours with either Bubba, Kamilla or Krista on my lap in that chair. I miss them bunches. Truth is, I wanted this chair as part of the divorce settlement, but that got to be nasty, so I just walked away from the house for a pittance and moved on with my life.

The chair, to the left, is where I watched the Saints win the Super Bowl.

As an adult, I had always owned a blue recliner.

The first one I picked up at Naquin Furniture in Thibodaux for $99 on sale in 1981. It was big and soft and comfy. It came with me to Florida, back to Thibodaux and then to Baton Rouge. I sadly left it on the roadside 19 years later when I moved to Nashville. There was no room for it in the U-Haul truck and my fiancée called it “nasty.” (That turned out to be a theme throughout our life together, but I digress.)

When we built our house in Murfreesboro, we got a blue recliner for the bonus room. This one was a Queen Ann style chair. Comfortable sitting in reading, either upright or laid back.

Carolyn moved it from the bonus room to the great room near the end of the marriage and I spent less time in it, though that’s where I saw the Saints win the Super Bowl.

That’s where it stayed until I picked it up.

It’s funny how memories work.

I wanted the blue recliner because it made me feel comfortable. A year after the divorce, when I could afford to buy new furniture, I bought the same exact chair from a local store in Nashville.

But they didn’t have blue in stock and it would be six weeks before they’d get another, so I settled on the maroon model and it has served me well.

Four years later, the blue recliner was mine again. So I sat down and gloated about the prodigal chair coming home. I moved the maroon recliner to the other side of the sofa and put the blue chair in its rightful place where I like to watch TV.

There’s really nothing to watch on TV on Mondays, so after a few minutes of sitting in the blue recliner, gloating, I was back at my desk in the spare bedroom reading Facebook.

Tuesday was much the same. WNPT had pledge programming and its pledge programming is the lamest of any PBS station I’ve ever seen. So I was in the office soon after the evening news went off.

Wednesday, I worked from home after a bout with my Meniere’s. I spent the morning at my desk, but felt worse and laid down in the recliner at lunch time.

The chair that helped heal me after tonsil surgery 12 years ago started giving me a back ache. I switched to the other chair and dozed off shortly after reclining all the way back.

I moved the maroon chair back to its proper place on Thursday and spent most of today in it, dozing off and on while cooking and home improvement shows alternated on WNPT. As soon as I have a leak-free place on the ridge, the blue chair will head up there.

Fond memories have their place in life, I’m certain, but I do believe they’re best left as memories.

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