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We´ll Always Have Pot Roast

In part to celebrate the Feast of Souls but also because Malcolm has been clamouring for More Meat, last night I made a pot roast.

The Hanal Pixan of it was to remember my Grandpa Jack, Poppie actually, and when we were very small, just Pea. He was One Hell of a Guy, as Norman from The Gin Mill said at his wake. Anthony Schopp (I don´t know where the Jack came from) was a plumber, steamfitter, and armchair theologian. He sat in a rocking chair, actually, a manly nicotine stained piece of furniture, or hunched over the kitchen table, dunking zwiebek cookies in instant coffee. I remember him reading the Bible and taking notes with his calloused, clean but not unstained hands. He was a large man, a working class democrat from the German-Italian ghetto, who played the saxophone and danced every Saturday night of his youth at a place called Pleasure Beach. This is where he met my Grandma Jo, the one still alive; I had at one point two grandmothers Josephine. He swung her up perpendicular with ground one night and then he left for The War.

In his garage he kept a phonograph, some screws and bolts in Maxwell House jars nailed to the wall, and a cast iron pot, a dutch oven, which he used for Sunday dinner.

The color of that work shed never changed, even after the house was re-sided for the 21st century. He planted beans and peppers in the garden until his mind was nearly gone, and always let me twist off the ripe tomatos from their fragrant stalks. Once he almost had me convinced he grew bananas there, until Josephine (the one still living) came out shouting about her pilfered fruit basket. He cooked better than she, and made plays of words and letters, and sometimes drank to excess and roared and frightened me. And even in his last few months, when dementia took him elsewhere, he would make us laugh in the afternoons with his impressions of the muddled, shuffling elderly, persuading us he was not among them. I learned a lot about Scotch and comedy from Jack, and so I did my best to honor him, to channel his improvised kitchen alchemy with some simple food and spices.

Next year I´ll make a box for him with a Louis Prima record and films by W.C. Fields, a Camel cigarette and a shot of something single malt. And we´ll share a meal with him and maybe others.

There Are 4 Responses So Far. »

  1. Hey–my grandfather Zoltan, the one not living, kept his workshop full of nuts and bolts in peanut butter jars with the tops nailed to the bottom of a shelf so that he could unscrew the jar and get the contents.

  2. Your grandpa Jack sound a lot like my friend MK.

  3. armchair theologian? i couldn’t have said it better myself. how refreshing!

    i never had his food, so i’m envious of the extra 7 years you had..but i think candice suffers the most, she thought poppy was spelled papi.

  4. Gracias, prima.

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