My Grandmother and “The Angels’ Share”

I’m home today, not in my office, because I chose not to share my newly acquired … cold? … with my colleagues. To take my mind off my misery, I decided to sort through some of my stored Letter to the Editor submissions to the New York Times. In doing so, I came across one I had written five years ago that gave me a chuckle.

Sadly, that Old Gray Lady, perhaps suffering from declining hearing, paid no mind to my call for consideration—other than thanking me for my submission and reminding me, with a matronly poke of her dagger, that many letters are received but space (Ha! Make that inclination!) permits use of only a few. Well, I liked it when I wrote it, and I believe it still shines, even though Father Time has spent these past few years testing its mettle. See if you agree that it’s worth a read. The gist of my letter follows:

I grew up just a few miles from Lynchburg, Tennessee, home of the Jack Daniels Distillery. When I read “Whiskey’s Kingdom (Pop. 361),” by R.W. Apple, Jr., published March 17, 2004, recollections stirred in me. I wasn’t thinking of the whiskey itself, as I have never been a connoisseur of fine spirits—I was recalling a droll incident with my grandmother who has long since passed away.

As a young boy, I recall the mischievous chuckle and the relish with which she told the tale of touring the facilities at Jack Daniels and accepting a sample of that Tennessee Sipping Whiskey! My grandmother was a life-long Baptist and for me, not yet knowing much of the ways of the world, this tasting was totally out of character. (Sadly, since the distillery is in a dry county, this free sampling was halted many years ago.)

As I approach the age my grandmother was at the time of her “indiscretion,” I have come to realize that a few excursions outside the boundaries of ordinary life can be good things. After all, life is for the living, and for living—fully.

As for the dead, I’m sure my grandmother—perhaps with the welcoming of each new family member—has grand, midday Southern dinners, held like our old-time family reunions, replete with fried chicken, stone-ground cornbread, creamed potatoes, garden-ripened tomatoes, fried okra, and hand-cranked ice cream for desert.

Oh, and what of that heady, perfumed evaporation that lingers in the air over Lynchburg, which the article calls “the angels’ share?” My grandmother is undoubtedly partaking of the angels’ share that is always offered-up in Heaven at such joyous occasions. (#2)

To read  Mr. Apple’s fine article in the New York Times, copy the following URL and paste it into your Web browser:

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