I did not have writer’s block, I had writer’s empty.
I knew I could write another beach column, but recent storms have washed away a lot of the beach, which leaves not much to write about.
Then the letter arrived. My buddy Gary, down at the University of South Florida, sent me a bunch of clippings, as he is wont to do, and among them was a 1941 article with this headline: “He Likes Biscuits, She Likes Bread, So They’re Divorced.”
That got me thinking about biscuits.
And Kinky Friedman.
Kinky, if you are not familiar with him, was once the lead singer for “Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jew Boys,” a name that’s a play on “Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.” In fact, playing is what Kinky is all about — when he isn’t serious.
Kinky lives in Texas, and when he is serious he runs for governor. He lists among his qualifications that he was born in Chicago, lived there one year, couldn’t get a job, moved to Texas and hasn’t worked since. That is a little not-so-true because since getting to Texas, he has written and sung some of the most outrageous songs that have been written and sung, has authored some pretty good mystery novels (including the vastly underappreciated classic Armadillos & Old Lace), and has run for the top office in his almost-native state.
His campaign slogan — “Kinky for Governor: Why the Hell Not!” — pretty well sums it up.
Among the songs that will not make the politically correct list of greatest hits is his anti-feminist ballad, “Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed.”
See the biscuit connection.
This flashback coincided with the arrival of Like the Dew: A Journal of Southern Culture and Politics (you ought to check it out at www.likethedew.com). In it was an article, “Risky Biscuits,” by Noel Holston. Holston wrote of how the recent History Channel miniseries Hatfields & McCoys got him to thinking of the ways in which that family feud inspired all sorts of hillbilly stereotypes in cartoon, celluloid and song. That thinking brought back the ditty, “Pass the biscuits, Mirandy”:
“Pass the biscuits, Mirandy
“I’m a-gonna load up my gun.
“I’ll use your biscuits for bullets.
“I’ll put them varmints on the run.”
So he did a little YouTube searching and found it in various forms — his favorite was a cartoon version, but I preferred the live-action short film in which the song is performed by Spike Lee and the City Slickers.
It’s not on Kinky’s level, but it’s pretty good.
Now you have some idea about how connections come about in the column-writing business.
Here I have gone from a clipping about a 1941 divorce over biscuits, to Kinky Friedman, to the Hatfields and McCoys, to Spike Lee, and now back to the divorce.
The split between Warren S. Hyman, a Georgian, and Hermina Hallett Hyman, from Minnesota, went all the way to the Florida Supreme Court, where it was ruled that the couple “should never have been married as they were ill-suited, inadjustable and incompatable for marriage to each other.”
Her mother living with them was a contributing factor, as was their “distinct and conflicting views and differences on religion, education, habits, standards, concepts and cultural backgrounds.” But at the root of it all was biscuits.
He liked hot biscuits and, as the court pointed out, “light bread and crackers were not on the Georgia menu.”
Personally, I figure they would have split even if she had made good biscuits. If they had not had all those “distinct and conflicting views,” they could have gotten over the biscuit thing.
My parents did.
Let me explain.
My mama learned to make biscuits from her mama. They were flat and round and hard — about the size of a silver dollar and the thickness of two. And she baked them almost crisp. You had to slide the knife in carefully to open them up for the butter or they’d crumble in your hand.
Daddy came from the thick-and-fluffy biscuit tradition.
So it followed that the first breakfast Mama cooked for him, she baked biscuits like her Mama and placed them proudly before him.
Daddy, who could be a smart-aleck at times, picked one up, examined it, turning it over to calculate it carefully, then dropped it with a loud clatter on the plate— a gesture designed to send a message to his bride that in his estimation this was not a biscuit.
Mama sent the message right back — “if you don’t like my biscuits, then you can make them yourself.”
And from then on, until biscuits started coming in cans, if there was a biscuit in our house, it was not made by Mama.
The marriage lasted 67 years.
Biscuits ain’t everything.
Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Eminent Scholar in History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist and editorial writer for The Star. E-mail: email@example.com.