Whitesburg KY

My first taste of grits

I had been in the military 14 years when my boss sent me to the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy at McCoy Air Base in Florida. I was assigned as the flight leader of the President’s Air Force One’s crew for the five weeks’ training.

Our first meal in the mess hall the cook put a bowl of something on my tray that I’d never seen before. I asked him what it was.

He said in his Southern drawl, “Where are you from, boy?” I told him I was from Kentucky.

He said, “Everyone in the South knows what grits are.”

I took my tray and sat down to eat, and took my first bite of grits. I did not like grits.

I went back to the sergeant and asked him for a glass of buttermilk. I was eating my cornbread in my buttermilk. The Northern guys from Air Force One thought I was nuts.

Later, when the President would visit the base I was assigned to, the crew would take me out for lunch. The first thing they would order was cornbread and buttermilk for me.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.

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