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RDJ-- French Quarter Green Beans, 03-04-00  Recipe du Jour
 Mar 04, 2000 06:31 PST 
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Volume 3      Number 55
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FRENCH QUARTER GREEN BEANS

3 (9 oz) pkgs frozen French-style green beans
3 tbs butter or margarine
1 (10-3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (3 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (2-1/2 oz) pkg slivered almonds
Paprika

Cook green beans according to package directions; drain. Melt butter in a
Dutch oven; add soup and cream cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring
constantly, until cream cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from
heat; stir in green beans, onion flakes, water chestnuts, garlic salt,
pepper, and shredded Cheddar cheese. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased
1-3/4 quart casserole. Top with almonds; sprinkle with paprika. Bake,
uncovered, at 375 degrees F. for 45 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.

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AT THE MIDDLE PASSAGE

By Walter Mills



    Once I Was a Workingman

Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the work I have to do, I only have to
remember the time a few years ago when I really was a working man. Then I
begin to realize that whatever I'm doing is not as hard as what I have done
in the past, and that there are other working men out there who wake up to
the same grim day that used to face me.

I went to work for a company down in Norfolk that made sodas, a bottling and
distributing company. It was a firm that did not make a lot of money, its
equipment was old and unsafe, and they did not pay well. They paid, not by
the hour, but by the number of cases a driver delivered.

It was not hard to get the job because drivers were always leaving, quitting
without notice, usually. Although I did not know it, the first day was
always a test. One of the supervisors, using a forklift, loaded a truck
with sixteen ounce bottled drinks in wooden cases that weighed about 40 lbs.
each. He filled each truck bay to the top, including the high bays above
the wheels. Then we drove to a nearby supermarket and I was told to unload
the cases onto the loading dock. The cases were over my head in the truck,
and the loading dock itself was chest high. Within a half hour sweat was
pouring down my face and my arms trembled. I unloaded the truck while the
supervisor wheeled the cases into the warehouse on a hand truck. After two
hours the truck was empty, and I was given a job.

The next workday began before dawn and lasted until after dark. At night my
hands ached so badly that I had to run hot water over them to uncurl my
fingers. Over the weeks my body hardened, my waist diminished, my hands
took on the toughness of horn. I grew indifferent to the pain, though the
exhaustion never left me, or the others. I saw it in their faces as they
dragged themselves into the warehouse before dawn, especially those with the
long routes that would take them far out into the country and bring them
home late in the evening. By Saturday afternoon, our sixth day, the half
day that lasted from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m., we were all of us worn out, though
for many there was talk of cashing their paychecks and blowing the dust off,
which meant hitting a few bars, playing pool and drinking until the night
was gone. I was asked along a few times and I went, but it was always just
too much the same - unwinding became recklessness, which turned to anger.

Then on Monday morning they would be back, recovered enough to go on,
filling the meeting room where we picked up our route sheets, cursing and
laughing, insulting each others' girlfriends, bragging about how much they
had drunk on Saturday night.

I had been a driver for eight months and by then it was a routine. There
was just the constant tiredness, rising in the darkness and coming home long
after nightfall, sixty and seventy hour weeks, lifting and bending, the
petty frustrations that mounted into major disasters, the blown tire that
added three hours to that day and the same again tomorrow for all the stops
that were missed.

But two days a week I had a long country route. There was an hour drive
before the first stop, and those were the best moments of my week, the only
moments that were completely mine before I fell exhausted into bed at night.
All the emotions I had no time to feel were condensed into a few moments.
As I drove through the darkness into the countryside of Suffolk county, over
the long bridge across the James River, past the farmhouses with lighted
kitchen windows, I felt the air flowing through the open window, watched the
sun blossom over the dark river, and thought thoughts as laden as poetry.

I thought of my father who had also been a working man, a man who had
labored hard. I knew, finally, something of how his life had been. In the
darkness he got up, and in the darkness he lay down. I was connected to him
through the hard, stoic labor of the trucks. It was his voice that kept me
going in the first rough days, pleading, sometimes shouting, "Don't make me
ashamed!" The voice that had made no sense to me as a child, spoke to me as
an adult.

I'm happy those days are gone, though they gave me a certain inner knowledge
of what I would and could do, and why I would do it. And I miss the
condensation - the emotions and reflections of a week compacted into an
hour - powerful and deep, like lines of great poetry.



(The above column originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times and is
copyright 2000 by Walter Mills. All rights reserved worldwide. To contact
Walt, address your emails to wmi-@vicon.net)

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Do you remember?


Five OlClock World
The Vogues
Words and Music by Allen Reynolds

Up every mornin' just to keep a job
I gotta fight my way through the hustling mob
Sounds of the city poundin' in my brain
While another day goes down the drain (yeah, yeah)

But it's a five o'clock world when the whistle blows
No one owns a piece of my time
And there's a five o'clock me inside my clothes
Thinkin' that the world looks fine, yeah

(SCAT: oh-de-lay-ee-ee, etc )

Tradin' my time for the pay I get
Livin' on money that I ain't made yet
I've been goin' tryin' to make my way
While I live for the end of the day (yeah, yeah)

Cuz it's a five o'clock world when the whistle blows
No one owns a piece of my time
There's a long-haired girl who waits, I know
To ease my troubled mind, yeah

(SCAT: oh-de-lay-ee-ee, etc )

In the shelter of her arms everything's OK
When she talks then the world goes slippin' away
And I know the reason I can still go on
When every other reason is gone, (yeah, yeah)

In my five o'clock world she waits for me
Nothing else matters at all
Cuz every time my baby smiles at me
I know that's it's all worthwhile, yeah

(SCAT: oh-de-lay-ee-ee, etc ) to end

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