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9/2/2021 4:04:00 PM
White decaf in my morning glory mug
+ click to enlarge
by Helen Ledford

My one daily cup of instant Folgers decaf coffee with ridiculous amounts of rich, powdered creamer is scalding hot and sipped from a special cup that is vintage '50s, white milk glass and adorned with blue morning glory blossoms. On one side is inscribed "In the language of flowers, the morning glory is the symbol of individuality."

Being raised on a farm, I was very familiar with the aforementioned wildflowers. Their vines grew prolifically and twined around, clinging to everything in farm fields and gardens if left to their own devices. As a youngster, I simply loved morning glories (and I still do!). Many of my childhood mornings were spent roaming through our cornfields. With the dew still wet, I was beyond delighted at the climbing tangle of red, purple, blue, magenta and white blossoms. It was a colorful fairyland that seemed all mine at the time!

Miss Emma was a neighbor who planted morning glory seeds at the end of her porch. She strung heavy twine from wood pieces she pounded into the ground, attaching the sturdy string to the end of the porch ceiling. All summer, masses of blooms covered that end of the porch, blanketing it with every hue imaginable! That is where Miss Emma's daughter and I played in the swing, rocked our baby dolls and pretended to be housewives or movie stars, idling away hours of pleasure.

Life was not all fun and games back then, though. There were crops to be planted, maintained and harvested, chores to perform daily and animals to be fed. We raised hogs for meat consumption, and they always pounced on food placed in their troughs. Our resident swine population would, like goats, eat just about anything, and in addition to their gourmet meals of hog feed from the store, they consumed corn, corn shucks, corncobs, potato and apple peelings, watermelon and cantaloupe rinds, table scraps, slop, etc.

Evidently our piggies considered morning glory vines a delicacy, so we pulled the abundant, leafy, tendrilled plants (lovely blooms and all!) and watched our big "oinkers" stuff themselves with happy grunts of joy!

In a previous article I shared that my sisters and I pretended the morning glory blossoms were lipstick, mashing the colored juice onto our lips. Another childish activity (and waste of time!) was "popping" morning glory buds. Just as modern-day bubble wrap bursting is a leisurely, stress-free activity for some, the morning glory bud popping became somewhat of an addiction for me. It actually took real skill to know how to place one's thumb and crooked forefinger just so, while applying exactly enough pressure to the fragile bud to coax a pleasing pop from it. A silly obsession, but after all, we did not have cell phones, video games, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc., back then so we depended on our own creativity and ingenuity to stave off boredom. And it worked!

Now, more than ever, I savor partaking of my morning "fix" from my beautifully flowered cup. After rehashing these youthful morning glory memories and perusing Amazon and eBay, I discovered my milk glass treasure is worth much more than I paid for it - I probably purchased my little cup for 25 or 50 cents at a yard sale, not dreaming it was an antique!

During WWll, coffee, as well as many other staples, was rationed. Thus, the root of the chicory plant was processed and added to different brands of favorite breakfast brews. Our troops overseas deserved the best, as they were on the front lines fighting for our freedom, so they were naturally treated to 100% pure, rich coffee. Mama and my older brothers gladly drank their chicory-laced mixture - black, hot and sweet!

Sugar was also scarce, but our mother did without other things so that we could always have plenty for making her delicious pies and cakes. Saccharin tablets (a sugar substitute) were always on our table during the war years. Mama used the little white pills that "fizzed" when dropped into a hot cup of liquid, but I thought it tasted nasty. With plenty of Jersey cow milk available, my young siblings and I drank "white" coffee, mostly milk with a small amount of the brown, freshly perked brew - and several spoonsful of sugar. We often floated a crusty biscuit in the concoction and enjoyed a complete breakfast in a cup (though ham, eggs, hash browns, gravy, etc., were always available!).

We have seen shortages of many items in stores during this lasting pandemic, but if you struggle to do without your creature comforts, be glad you were not yet born in the '40s. We had our own home-churned butter, but some folks had to make do with government-issued bags of plain lard with a small round circle of food coloring in the middle. When you mashed and kneaded that coloring into the lard, it became yellow. It wasn't butter, nor was it margarine - it was colored lard.

Well, back to the sugar shortages in the years of war when I was a child. Everything was purchased with government stamps issued in a book to each family member. We knew people who knew others in power who helped them buy things illegally. There were some acquaintances who bragged about purchasing sugar by the 100-pound bag. We, of course, would not have had that kind of money, and would not have tried to break the rules. But with careful planning, we ate well and enjoyed having our sugary treats.

I was too little to remember, but my brother Bill told me the story of when he and my sister, Jewell, stole a whole 5-pound bag of sugar from the kitchen. They dragged the cloth bag of sugar to the small alcove at the bottom of the stairs and shut the door. Later, in looking for the little thieves, Mama opened the door that led to the stairs. There sat my sister and brother, each with one corner of the cloth sugar bag in their mouth, sucking away and getting all the sweetness they could, until caught. Never a dull moment at our house!

There was a time when I drank my coffee black and it wasn't decaf - that was before an ulcer intervened. I got hooked on coffee creamer - no sugar - and still look forward each morning to "white coffee" (like in the olden days!)

Friends, enjoy your expensive lattes - my morning glory cup filled with Folgers decaf coffee and I are doing just fine, thank you...

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