Saturday, August 4, 2018

Spicy Trip Down Memory Lane

It is funny how the smallest everyday items can jog your memory. Today, the salt and pepper shakers (or actually grinders) on our table at the local Mellow Mushroom got me all nostalgic.

I was grinding a little sea salt and some peppercorns for my Greek salad and meatball Hoagie when I noticed the fine print on the containers: C.F. Sauer Company, Richmond, Va. Not only were the salt and pepper from Sauer's but the grinders too -- and they actually worked, unlike those at many other eateries. That should have been a tip-off to me without even reading the labels. C.F. Sauer is a high-quality company.

Now, I haven't been back to Richmond since the turn of the century (literally); however, I recall fondly the Sauer building for the tantalizing aromas it put into the air from its production of a wide array of spices and seasonings. And on top of all that, its illuminated 20-foot high, 60-foot wide sign of a husky chef cranking out the word VANILLA was a familiar and reassuring sight on Broad Street year after year, an eternal beacon, during the 35 years I worked in Richmond. Sauer dates back to 1877 (no, I don't go back quite that far) and became the first company of its kind to produce and market vanilla extract. At the 1893 Chicago World's Fair it earned a blue ribbon for the purity of that product,

All this evoked another happy memory for me. My father's National Park Service office was not far from the Sauer's building. One day my Dad had me come by, and we went to a small used-car lot behind Sauer's. I was a junior in high school. There we picked out my very first car, and an improbable one it was -- a British-made Hillman Minx convertible!  I am not sure of the year (maybe 1956 or 57) or the model -- but it was a convertible! But it looked like a mini Army tank, something like this....

I was grateful for having my first wheels, but they caused quite a stir in my suburban high school, dear old Douglas Southall Freeman. Old papers state that the Hillman was a mid-sized British car manufactured between 1930 and 1970; however, by American standards, it seemed tiny. One afternoon some of my buddies somehow got early release from classes and went out and carried my Minx to a hideaway location so as to prank me. Those juvenile delinquents -- arrgh! As far as girls wanting to go on dates with me in my odd little vehicle -- well, not so much. My prospects in that department brightened considerably when I got my second car -- a Ford Mustang -- on my first job right out of college.

Anyway, be careful what seasonings you use in your next outing to your favorite pizza joint. They could bring back a flood of memories.

                                               © Robert Gray Holland  (2018)

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