I grew up in Trussville, Alabama. Today it is a city of over 25,000 but when I lived in Trussville it was just a little village. Back then there was a sign at the edge of town that read, “Home of 2107 Happy People and 1 Grouch.” No city would put up such a sign today for fear of offending the grouch.
Most of the houses in Trussville were built by WPA workers in the 1930’s. When they built the houses they left as many trees as possible. I lived there in the 1950’s and there were pecan trees everywhere. Pecans have a thick husk that protects the pecan. As the pecan ripens the husk splits open and reveals the pecan in its thin shell. Even a child can get to the pecan meat by crushing two nuts together.
The trick with pecans is to make sure you have removed the bitter. The bitter is the soft part of the shell that tastes incredibly bitter.
Euell Gibbons, the natural food advocate and spokesperson for Grape Nuts, would have loved wandering around Trussville living off the pecans that were so abundant.
It never occurred to me or my boyhood friend Lynwood that pecans could be enjoyed any other way than au’ natural. Then one Christmas my Aunt Diana sent a tin of toasted pecans.
My Aunt Diana and Uncle Chet had a pecan tree in their yard. Uncle Chet found a pecan nut cracker at the hardware store and the two of them started collecting pecans in the fall. They prepared the pecans on a cookie sheet with salt and butter. The pecans were toasted in the oven and then packaged in a tin and given to us for Christmas. Man oh man those pecans were good. Each one was a treasure. Lynwood, being my best friend, was entitled to a taste of the precious nuts. He took to them like a cat takes to tuna and declared it was the best thing he ever tasted.
People don’t make there own Christmas gifts much anymore but when they did it created some powerful memories.
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Manzie R Lawfer