As soon as I emerged from the No. 2 train at the corner of
Instead I found blocks of abandoned and burnt-out buildings that looked like
Dana’s mother felt sorry for me, all alone in
“Child, are you hungry?” Miss Jackson asked me. Then she folded her hands neatly in front of her chest. “Dear Lord,” she said, “thank you for all the blessings you have bestowed upon us. And thank you for bringing us this nice visitor from
I was taken with Miss Jackson’s grace, hospitality and her amazing culinary talents. She introduced me to new foods: black-eyed peas, mustard greens, okra and best of all sweet potato pie. Her collard greens looked and smelled similar to my mother’s Grünkohl, but tasted so much better. Her smothered pork chops were the best I ever had. I found that black people, like the Germans, devoured pig’s feet, ham hocks and tripe. What we called Saumagen, they called chitlins and maw. Our drinking habits, however, were worlds apart. The
Miss Jackson taught me about Black history, about
A legendary beauty, Miss Jackson had enjoyed many suitors in her youth, but never married. She had banished Dana’s father, “the sperm donor,” from her life. He drank too much and “was a heap of trouble.” She had a steady boyfriend, but would not let him move in with her. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Hank, the owner of a trucking company, was a perfect gentleman. He took her to fine restaurants, Broadway musicals and weekend trips to
Read the rest of the essay in epiphanyzine.com or ep;phany; listen to the podcast of the New York Public Library's reading series Perodically Speaking: Literary Magazine Editors Introduce Emerging Writers from May 13, 2008.