Several weeks after Wanda moved into the apartment in Morganton, North Carolina, I decided to make a couple pieces of toast, only to realize that our toaster oven now resided in an apartment in downtown Morganton. So I went retro, fired up the oven, pulled out a cookie sheet, and made my toast.
Later that week while in a Wal-Mart, I was surprised to learn that two-slice toasters could be purchased for $7, cheap enough I thought. So I headed home with my new toaster. Back in 1970 when Wanda and I were first married, we were given the first toaster oven I had ever seen. At that time, Black and Decker had a small appliance manufacturing facility in Greenville, SC. My Uncle Wesley and Aunt Jean had realized that they could go by the outlet store and get this newfangled thing called a toaster oven. Not only would it toast bread on both sides, it would also allow you to warm up leftovers or even cook a chicken pot pie. Over the years, toaster ovens have come and gone, but have been a standard piece of equipment in our home. But for me, there’s just simply something nostalgic about the two-slice toaster.
While there was never one in my home growing up, my mother’s mother, my Grannie, had one that sat on her kitchen table. I’m sure it was a gift from one of her children as a convenience because she lived alone and after all, two toasted slices of bread are just right for any southern breakfast.
During my eighth grade year, I would walk from Evans Junior High School to my grandmother’s house after school to wait for my mom to pick me up. Grannie would always fix me two pieces of bread, toasted, buttered, and served with pear preserves. Both Grannie and I loved pear preserves. I will never forget the conversations we had at that kitchen table. During my ninth grade year, I continued my daily walks down to Grannies. During this time, I sat alone because Grannie’s health was failing. But I would go by and check on her and wait until my mother could pick me up. I would often sit by her bed and talk to her, if for no other reason than to give her caregiver, Mrs. Blanton, a break. And then on May 9, 1963, I went to the house and sat with my Grannie while she passed from this life to the next. It was my sister Jeslyn’s 11th birthday.
That afternoon, my time around table, eating toast from a two-slice toaster, ended. Until a few days ago. As I took the toast from that two-slice toaster, my memory rushed back to those beautiful days with my Grannie. I don’t know that there is anything more precious in the world than for an eighth grader to have a grandmother to talk them through those trying days. I thank God for all of the Grannies in the world and especially for my grandmothers.