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Fried Potatoes

Kay Boules

 

She was a tiny thing. We use the term petite now. She had an olive complexion and dark black hair … and … was my best friend.

We did all kinds of things together – from cooking greasy fried potatoes in the middle of the afternoon to sitting in a motionless car pretending to take a trip, laughing ourselves silly the entire time. 

Her name was Arleta and she thought I was fun and funny. I was two years ahead of her in school and she was one of the ‘popular girls’ – but somehow we formed a strong fond of friendship. But, then again, maybe the bond wasn’t as strong as we thought. I overheard Aleta telling a boy on the school bus that my Mom was an ‘old lady’ that couldn’t tell her what to do at a party I recently hosted. I was shocked and hurt that Aleta would speak with so much disrespect about my mother. 

I don’t remember what I said to her, but I made it clear that I was angry and would not be hanging out with her anymore.

We stayed away from one another for quite a while. One day it occurred to me that this separation was silly. I called Aleta and asked if we could be friends again. She readily agreed and we picked up our crazy friendship. We went shopping together, spent the night at one another’s house and I let her ‘fix’ my hair. I didn’t ‘fix’ her’s because I wasn’t a ‘hair’ person … but that didn’t bother her.

Aleta began to date Bobby, my first grade boyfriend. We had some laughs about that, but I was leaving for college so we just let that slide. Aleta and Bobby got married while she was still in high school because she became pregnant. I just knew she’d be really cute as the pregnancy progressed.

Early one morning in June 1970, I received a phone call that was unbelievable and so hurtful that at first I could not even cry. Aleta, Bobby and Aleta’s young brother were killed in a head-on collision. They were hit on an overpass by a drunk driver going the wrong way on the freeway. In that one accident, five people lost their lives. The ironic thing was that Aleta had been in an automobile crash when she was 12 years old that left her with a noticeable limp. Now, five years later another crash had taken her life and the lives of her loved ones.

I think of Aleta often, especially when I fry some potatoes really soggy and greasy. I make sure I put lots of black pepper on them because that’s the way my friend Aleta liked them.

When I was a teacher, I used Aleta’s story to warn teens about drinking and driving. I thin Aleta would like that. Also, I think Romans 8:28 applies as well because God wrung some good out of this earthly evil.

*Editor’s Note: This is a true story and one that represents the late 1960s and early 1970s in Texas. For those of you who do not know the difference, fried potatoes are always soft and greasy and utterly delicious … often cooked in a cast iron skillet using bacon drippings or Crisco. Some families always add chopped onions to their fried potatoes, but the ones in this story are of the classic variety … just potatoes and patience to get them cooked just to the right degree of softness! They are completely sinful when liberally seasoned with black pepper and salt to be eaten covered in a mound of catsup. Southern Fried Potatoes are a Texas staple so different from French Fries which are deep fried and crispy … but equally delicious.

  

Biography:

Kay is a retired teacher who is active in her local rural Central Texas Community. Her writing is from the heart and stories from her growing up to pass along to her grandchildren at some point.

 

Kay also coordinates a local group of writers who meet monthly.

 

This is her second piece for Voice of the Generations.

 

 

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