Friday, January 16, 2009

Baby Boomer Days . . .

In the crowded recess of my mind, I free fall through my past, skimming through life shaping events. Each generation has defining moments and a special label which identifies a certain period of time. The label which denotes my generation comes from being one of seventy-six million children born in America between 1946 and 1959. As a Baby Boomer and a child of the 60’s, I grew up while a myriad of historical events unfurled around me. Anyone who lived through this decade will never forget the good and the bad of the times: free-love, the hippy subculture, the easy access of mind altering drugs, great rock music, President Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam war, Woodstock, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the Watergate Scandal.

Certainly, both assassinations and the Vietnam war became a part of my permanent memory, but the shooting of President Kennedy on Friday, November 22, 1963, left an immediate mark. I recall the excitement of that day, the early release from school which was planned because President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was due to arrive in Austin. His day began in Dallas, Texas, but he was later scheduled to come to our town for a fundraising dinner speech at the Municipal Auditorium. I would have the opportunity to see him in person as his motorcade made its way down Congress Avenue in Austin and I was giddy with excitement. The news came through the school’s loud speaker. The President had been shot in Dallas. Tears rolled down the faces of even the toughest guys in our school. My heart felt as if it had shattered, for the President, his family, and our country. For the next few days, I was glued to the television, newspaper and magazines, my innocence diminishing with each new report of the real-life horror.

At the close of my junior year in high school, on August 19, 1965, I had an out-of-body-no-drugs-used experience when I saw the Beatles concert at the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas. With barely enough space to breathe between hundreds of screaming girls, I stood in awe and knew without a doubt Paul McCartney was locking eyes with me. At one point, I ducked to the floor to gather up jelly beans that had been kicked from the stage while John, Paul, George and Ringo sang “Help.” I still have the ticket and the jelly beans (a lot worse for wear) pasted in a scrapbook.

After high school graduation, I went to work as a long distance operator for the telephone company. I was there on August 1, 1966, when Charles Whitman climbed the University of Texas Tower and shot 45 people, killing 13. I found out later that Whitman’s wife also worked for the telephone company, in fact, in the same building as I did. Whitman had called early that fateful morning to let his wife’s boss know she would need to take a sick day. In actuality, he’d already murdered her and his mother before climbing to the tower with his arsenal of weapons. While the horrid tower shooting was in progress, I took a call from Charles Whitman’s father. To this day I can still hear the tremble of his voice as he spoke to me.

The Vietnam War began in 1959, when I was still quite young. Until my friends and classmates were enlisted, I didn’t fully grasp its enormity. As a teenager, I grieved for those slain, which included some I knew. My sister’s boyfriend was killed in Vietnam and she received a letter from him some time after his death. A young man I’d had a crush on in junior high school was wounded and died. The list went on and on. We did our part in honoring the soldiers by tying yellow ribbons around trees. In the 70’s, many of us wore bracelets engraved with the name of a soldier, either captured or missing in action. We wore them in hope the soldiers would return safe to their families.

These memories will always be a part of me. The good and the bad.


My husband and I attempted to recreate the dish we love to order from Romeos in Austin. I think we got pretty close. Hope you enjoy.


Serves 4

2 or 3 chicken breasts, grilled (optional)

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup chopped red onions (or 2 small shallots, chopped)
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz mushroom, sliced (optional—sometimes I substitute the mushrooms for the black beans & corn or vice versa)
¼ cup roasted bell pepper, diced
1 canned chipotle pepper (packed in adobe sauce), seed & chop
¼ cup corn (roast when grilling the chicken)
¼ cup black beans, drained
½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons adobe sauce
½ pint heavy cream
¼ cup milk
¼ cup white wine
favorite pasta (enough for 4 servings). I like fettucini or linguini.
¼ cup Parmesano Reggianno cheese, grated (fresh is best!)

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add olive oil. Sauté onions and garlic until golden, taking care not to burn garlic. Add mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes or until tender, but not limp. Add roasted bell pepper, chopped chipotle pepper, corn and black beans and heat on low for 3 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper and cilantro.

In small saucepan, stir together heavy cream, milk, white wine and adobe sauce. Cook on low until heated then stir into corn and black bean mixture. Add grated cheese and stir. Keep warm on low heat.

Slice grilled chicken breasts into strips.

Cook pasta according to directions on package.

Arrange pasta on plate. Spoon Chipotle mixture atop. Sprinkle with cheese.

This is wonderful with a leafy green salad and hot crusty Italian bread.

Expert Ezine Author

Expert Ezine Author
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