It was in the summer of 1954 that I first learned that not everyone ate Pimento Cheese sandwiches on a weekly basis. To this day, Pimento Cheese sandwiches are part of my regular diet.
Having recently received my diploma from the local campus of Texas A&M, and having been invited to spend the next few years of my life in the service of our government, I ended up in a place known as The Panama Canal Zone.
Friends, you just think you are homesick when you go off to college. Try spending some time in a country so far removed from society that it is known more for how many people died from digging its famous ditch than for any tourism attractions.
Having spent my youth in Texas and South Carolina with extended family in several Southern states, I assumed everyone ate pimento cheese sandwiches, particularly on hot summer days.
Let's just say summers in The Zone, as locals called it, are hotter and more humid than anywhere in the South. Naturally, I spent time at the base in an attempt to obtain this light but delicious sandwich.
Needless to report, the search there and in the surrounding community was fruitless. I promised myself, "If I ever get out of this place alive, I'll never live anywhere that doesn't have pimento cheese sandwiches." That is a promise I've been able to keep.
As time went by, I was fortunate and blessed with a fine family. Longtime readers of my articles realize I have a grandson who is an Associate Professor at Clemson University, and the Tigers are my longtime foil for what little humor I may possess.
Back in the late 1980s, whenever we had a chance, I would visit and take the grandchildren to Clemson football games and basketball games. We had the opportunity to see the Duke basketball team come to town for several years.
You have to eat, right? So we made visits to the old Esso Club as well as several other "cat-dives" (don't ask if you don't know). After losing three straight years in basketball to the Tigers from '88 to '90, I pronounced trips to the Clemson eateries as "bad luck for Duke" and refused to sit down with a knife and fork in that town again.
My solution? We'll stop in nearby Pendleton and get a Pimento Cheese Sandwich before the game! This went over like, well, Led Zeppelin in Nashville.
The first time we did this, Duke broke the losing streak to the Tigers. And the next time. And the next time. You get the point.
This activity simply became part of family lore, and as routine as opening presents at Christmas. Over the years the grandchildren grew up and moved on with their own lives, living too far away to join me for the trip over to Clemson to see the Tigers play Duke.
The restaurant we stopped by in the little village of Pendleton closed during this time, but it did not prevent me from preparing my Pimento Cheese sandwiches at home and eating them in the Clemson parking lot.
A couple of years back, my second oldest Grandson earned his Ph.D. and received an offer to come to Clemson to teach. He was asked, "do you know where Clemson is?" "Yes," he answered, "I know where Clemson is."
With the new ACC schedule, not every team plays each other twice in the same season, so last year I was unable to attend a Duke game in Clemson. This year is a different story.
Last month I received a telephone call that began, "Poppy, would you like to join me at the Duke-Clemson game in February?" I did my best Sarah Palin imitation of "you betcha," and our plans were made.
One small order of business was addressed as well, as I was advised not to prepare any pimento cheese sandwiches this time. "No, Poppy, this time I am making them, and they will have lots of orange color and pimentos, just the way you like them."
I cried then, and I think I'll cry again when we go to the game this week.