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Sayin’ Goodbye to Some Ol’ Friends

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

     You know, saying goodbye to old friends can be a tough emotional ordeal.

     I mean, after all, you have come to know them as if they were literally members of your family.

You have conversed with them for years, shared your hopes and dreams with them.

     Whenever you had a set back in life, there they were, comforting you with their advice or other substances that they were warmly known for.

    Such friends stood the test of time. When others forsook you, they were there with a helping hand or a kind word or just a broad smile which said, “I am here, and everything is going to be alright!”

    Ah…! Such comfort. Such reassurance. A needed oasis in a dark time. They had your back and you knew it and that gave you the strength and ability to journey on in what seemed to be a hostile world populated by a host of equally hostile people.

    These friends were never judgmental. They never rebuked you for your peccadilloes. They were full of mercy knowing that mercy can be a scare commodity and as such it is valued and precious.

    But, when those friends end their sojourn and are no longer available or are silenced by the aging of time or changing sentimentality, you quietly take moments to mourn their passing; and you meditate on their substantial contributions to your life and how wonderful they were.


Lafe Tolliver, Esq

    Who knows? It may take months or years for you to come to a resting place in your life that you can finally accept that they are gone and are not to return.

    No more smiling faces or witty sayings…just profound silence as you talk to them during your times of grief and loss, hoping against hope that they will somehow reappear, just once, to say all is well.

   Well, the black community will lose three or four such friends or is in the process of losing those close confidants who laughed when you laughed and cried when you cried.

   I will, with a heavy heart, say a final goodbye to my following friends:

AUNT JEMIMA! Who could of thunk it that the bandana wearing grandmother for the ages would be retired from her eternal perch on the pancake mix box!

   But, it is true. The owners of that venerated image have decided to retire good ol’ auntie to the dustbin of history and with that sudden retirement, goes hundreds of childhood memories of waking up to Auntie whipping up a batch of dem good ol’ pancakes!

   Oh, the smell of those delicious circles of syrup covered flap jacks would have you jumping out of bed and making a bee line for the kitchen so you could thank Auntie once again for her loving kindness of making your day, great!

     Now, with auntie being told to turn in her bandana and scarf and with you, with little or no chance to say a formal goodbye to auntie, you are left with the sinking feeling that all is not right with the world. Nope. Not at all right.

Breakfast will never be the same again without a smiling Aunt Jemima.

     UNCLE BEN! Don’t go there! Of all people, how dare anyone creep up on THE Uncle to the Black Community and dismiss him as being no longer relevant or hip!

     How dare you sir! How dare you!

     Uncle Ben stood the test of time with his pleasant smile and the familiarity of his orange rice box being a go to favorite for families for decades upon decades.

    Uncle Ben was one of us. Oh sure, he was made fun of since he was not sporting an Afro or demanding reparations, but the Uncle knew the deal and he stuck to his bargain and smiled at us from his lofty perch on the box; and told us in no uncertain words, “Everything will work out for the best!”

     When things got tough and you needed a break, it was a simple reflex to reach for the orange box and, “Voila!” there was Uncle Ben giving you a thumbs up sign that you would make it regardless of the challenges.

THE CHEF ON THE CREAM OF WHEAT BOX!  No, not him! Now, this is getting personal. I grew up on Cream of Wheat! I still make it now at home! I use sugar and margarine and make the cereal so stiff so that the spoon can literally stand up on its own in the bowl.

     They say his early name was, Rastus, but to me he was a hospitable gentleman in his white chef’s hat and a smile that said, “Regardless of what they say about me, I am here for you!”

    I raised my three kids on Cream of Wheat! I feed it to my grandkids. When I sit down to eat a bowl of Cream of Wheat and I look at the picture of the chef on the box, I can imagine him winking at me and asking me about my plans for the day.

    Now, white corporate America is having feelings of racial guilt and will have those three family members removed from their advertisements (including a kindly and soft-spoken Mrs. Butterworth syrup of all people!) and will “reimagine” those historical images. Is nothing sacred?

     So, I say, with a heavy heart, goodbye to the Chef, to the Uncle, to Mrs. Butterworth and to my favorite aunt, Aunt Jemima and hope that one day they will get together, reminisce and have a good laugh about how they became synonymous with good eats, being politically correct and racial politics.

Contact Lafe Tolliver at tolliver@juno.com




Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/26/20 01:20:04 -0400.

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