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Monday, August 9, 2010

Daddy's Birthday

William "Mid" Bannister
 I mention Mama on here a good bit because she was the "cook" in the family. But, my father (or Daddy as he was known since we are Southern) could also find his way around the kitchen when need be. In fact, I used to love his Sunday breakfasts when he'd cook up pancakes and bacon. Of course, he was also in charge of the grill when "cooking out" and could boil some good peanuts!

Today would have been his 90th birthday. William Millward Bannister, or as he was known "Mid" was born August 9, 1920. He grew up during the Depression and I think that affected him greatly throughout life. He left school in 8th grade to go to work and help support his family. He was the second oldest child with a widow for a mother.

In 1942 he was drafted into the Army. He left his job in the cotton mill to go to Europe. He took part in the D-Day invasion, the liberation of France, the dash across Europe, the Battle of the Bulge and eventually wound up in Czechoslovakia where he was mustered out and sent home. He went right back to work in the mill and just a few months later met my mother at the soda fountain of a drugstore downtown. A few months later, in December 1945 they were wed in the parsonage of his small Baptist church. The rest, as they say, is history.

When I was growing up many of our "vacations" consisted of a day at the beach. The beach, of course, was always Myrtle Beach. Daddy usually took his vacation in July or very early August. One day during that time he and Mama would pack up the car and off we'd go to the beach. Being very frugal they would pack food to take with us rather than going to a restaurant.

Mama would be up well before dawn making Ham Biscuits for the trip. This is a Southern staple and consists of a piece of country cured ham on a biscuit that has been sliced and either buttered or smeared with mustard. Simple breakfast fare for the road long before they had dreamed up "breakfast burritos" or "Egg McMuffins" or the "Croisanwich."

The trip to the beach took two to three hours back then. There were no major highways that went to that part of the coast so we had to drive to Columbia and then take the back roads through Sumter, Turbeville, Florence and finally Myrtle Beach. Usually, we would stop for gas in Sumter or so Daddy could stretch his legs and the biscuits would be brought out. Sometimes, if we were lucky we could stop at a gas station across from Sumter Air Force Base and while having breakfast watch the jets take off and land. That was an extra treat!

Ham biscuits are still a favorite of Southern cooks. They're simple to make even if you make them from scratch and a delicious quick breakfast if you're on the go. You'll find them on the menu of most Southern restaurants that serve breakfast.  The folks at Martha White (which was one of the preferred flours in our household) has a nice version that's fairly close to what I remember on those trips to the beach with Mama and Daddy.


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