It was Thanksgiving morning and the phone began ringing at 8 am. Now who would be calling this early to say, Happy Thanksgiving already, I wondered as I reached for the phone. "Hello?" I said. "Well, Gooooooooood Mooooooooooooooorning! This must be Anne!" A male voice rang out sounding like a well-seasoned beauty pageant announcer. "Yes, it is," I answered back somewhat hesitantly. The voice continued, "This is KD James from KDRB Radio in Des Moines, Iowa and I have your Uncle Gordon here on the line with us to talk about the famous Powell Possum Stew that I understand your family prepares every year for Thanksgiving. Gordon, say hello to your niece, Anne." "Good Morning, Anne," I heard the familiar voice I knew and loved so well since I was a little girl on the farm in Iowa. "Hi, Uncle Gordon!" I replied cheerily. And my voice could not belie the now warm enthusiasm as I pondered what kind of shenanigans he would be up to this time.
He was my Mom's youngest brother of nine siblings whom had lived with us years ago in Iowa when I was two and three years old and he and I had a special bond between us. He used to bring candies home to me every day after his work day back then. And he and I would also sit in the strawberry patch together and eat strawberries right off the vines. This was also the uncle that short-sheeted my bed at the annual reunions in North Carolina and of which, in kind, I put pine cones in his and my aunt's bed along with rubber worms to help them sleep better. Ha! The radio announcer continued, "We have opened up our phone lines today for families to call in and spend some time telling us about the special Thanksgiving traditions that their family celebrates, so your Uncle Gordon has called in to tell us about the famous possum stew. He said that you and he have perfected this recipe over the years, so I am turning the radio over to the two of you to tell us all about it. Gordon and Anne, take it away!"
I was about to burst out loud laughing because never, ever had Uncle Gordon and I ever prepared possum stew, nor did we ever talk about it, but here he was, pulling another fast one. Well, you can't fool a fooler, so I was eagerly up for the job. "Anne, I guess I will start since I was the one that had to feed the possum out in the cage to fatten him up for the stew," Uncle Gordon began. "Each year, Mama would trap a possum and we would get him up in the cage and then I would feed him potatoes and carrots and apples until he was nice and fat in time for Thanksgiving." "Yep," I joined in, "Then on Thanksgiving morning, Grandmama would get him ready while we built a fire in the front lot of the old farmhouse and put the big, black kettle over it filled with water and onions so we could drop him in and get his skin softened up for the stew." Uncle Gordon picked up the commentary again, "We would boil him for about a good one and a half to two hours and then we would fish him out and lay him up on the roasting board." I jumped in again, "And I would put a big apple in his mouth and then we would add potatoes and carrots all around him so he could go into the smokehouse for several hours."
KD James commented, "Well this sure seems like quite a process for this stew." "Oh, this was just the first part of the stew prep," Uncle Gordon added, "after he came out of the smokehouse, we still had to cut him up and add him along with all the vegetables into Mama's big boiling pot on the stove to sit and simmer for another four hours." "We just couldn't wait for the stew to be done!" I exclaimed. "Yes, the whole family sure loved the Powell Possum Stew! It was one of the Thanksgiving meal favorites along with Mama's homemade buttermilk biscuits to go with it," Uncle Gordon finished.
"We can't thank you both enough for sharing this famous family recipe, Gordon and Anne. And while it may not be on everyone's Thanksgiving dinner plate, it sure sounds like it was made with a lot of love."
And you can bet it was – even if only in the hearts and minds of me and my late Uncle Gordon. Love you forever, Uncle Gordon! And Happy Possum Stew Thanksgiving!