Monday, April 16, 2012

Memory aids.

Years ago during the tail end of the 60s (that decade that ended more or less around 1974 with Richard Nixon's resignation) I had a job waiting tables at the summer camp I went to. Most of my job was being a junior counselor and coaching baseball, but some of the time I did the hard work of working in the kitchen and serving 200 hungry kids and about 70 more staff before things got unruly and out of hand.

I never minded kitchen work. I didn't love it, there were other things I'd rather be doing. But we were in and out with such alacrity that it never bogged down into tiresomeness.

There was an old, black cook named Tony who ran the kitchen. He'd been doing so, cooking at the camp for decades. The rest of the year he cooked for a school system in Long Island, so this was his vacation. I think he enjoyed doing what he did and getting to know and kibbitz with the kids who helped him out.

One day it was my job to make the toast for the kids. I placed bread, about 40 slices in eight rows of five on a large cookie sheet and placed it under the broiler. In a minute or two it was browned and I repeated the operation with another sheet while the waiters served what I had toasted.

Tony was watching to make sure I didn't screw up. Every couple minutes or so he would bellow--his way of reminding me to check the toast "Black is beautiful but not on toast."

It's a line I've never forgotten, though I last heard it probably 40 years ago.

No real point today.

Just don't burn the toast.


dave trott said...

I think the point is, we remember great lines, that's why mnemonics work.
We try harder. Think small. You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's. When you got it, flaunt it. When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. Where's the beef?
'Black is beautiful but not on toast' is one of those IMHO.

george tannenbaum said...

I agree, Dave.
It's funny how certain things never leave us.