That’s the first line of the Campbell’s Soup jingle…and it as the truth. While those plump, apple-cheeked pair calling themselves the Campbell’s Kids danced across the screen, I’d be slurping down my tomato soup and eating my peanut butter and honey sandwich.
“Mmmm, mmmm, Good!”
My favorite might have been tomato soup but other soups held different memories. Take chicken and rice, for example. Whenever I came back from the dentist with a new filling, I was always served Campbell’s Chicken and Rice soup. Why? Because my dentist recommended it. “Give her something soft to eat tonight,” he’d always say. “Like chicken and rice soup.” So…when suppertime came, my mother would reach into the pantry and bring out that familiar red and white can… My father had a different memory of chicken and rice. That was what his mother always served when he or one of his siblings (of which there were five) were ill. Sore throats always demanded chicken and rice soup!
“That’s what Campbell’s Soups are…”
Once there was just vegetable soup and then there was alphabet soup. Now, there isn’t a difference. Alphabet soup always has alphabet pasta in it. Not being a beef-eater, I go for the vegetarian kind because apparently you can’t get vegetable soup with any meat in it except beef.
“Mmmm, mmmm, Good!”
In either the 70’s or 80’s, there was some concern about the appearance of the Campbell’s Kids. Wanting to bolster a more healthy appearance for their young consumers, the two were afterward portrayed as slimmer and trimmer.
Food (and not simply soup) plays a part in most of my novels. A great deal of drama occurs around the dining tables in my stories. Some important decisions are made over those many cups of coffee, such as in this little scene from The Man from Tipperary, one of the novels in The McCoys series:
Padraig McCoy is the family Bad Boy. With money or threats, his father has always gotten him out of scrapes but at last Padraig adds the last straw to the overloaded camel’s back. He finds himself a remittance man, paid by his father to leave home and never come back.
Still in shock, the raspcallion finds himself on a boat to America where he comes to rest on the Great Plains of Nebraska. Knowing nothing about cows doesn’t stop Padraig from hiring on as a ranch hand, however, and it’s in the company of a bunch of cowboys that the young miscreant begins to change his ways. Fate has quite a bit in store for the young Irishman from Tipperary, from trail drives to dance hall girls to a certain young woman who steps off a Wells Fargo stage and wins his heart.
The Sylvestre House advertised it had a ‘genuine French cook’, giving it definite competition to the diner. There were eight tables in the room, all covered with white cloths which looked, if not genuine linen, at least a very high-grade and thick weave of cotton. All were occupied by diners appearing to enjoy their meals. The walls were papered instead of painted and there were several paintings, stilllifes strategically placed, with tables holding large double globed lamps giving considerable illumination. Someone had put a great deal of work into the Sylvestre House, making it into a very nice restaurant. Perhaps it wasn’t as fancy as some she’d seen in New York, but it was good enough to look out of place in a little Nebraska town.
“Aye, but McCoy’s Crossin’s not always going to be a small Nebraska town,” McCoy said, as if he’d read her thoughts.
“How did you…”
“’Tis what visitors always say, first off,” he explained. “They believe we’re at a standstill when actually we’re as progressive as Lincoln or Omaha…maybe even more so because McCoy’s Crossin’s got meself behind it.”
“You certainly think a great deal of yourself, don’t you?”
“That’s because I’m full o’ ideas an’ burstin’ t’ put them into action,” he replied. He studied the menu, giving her time to look at hers also. “I recommend th’ eggs and braised beef tips with julienne potatoes.”
That startled her. She’d expected he’d ask for baked beans and salt pork and a mug of beer. She studied him as the waiter took their orders, accepted back their menus and walked away.
Tall, red-haired, and Irish…definitely handsome, and a stylish dresser…a little older than she, perhaps by ten years, but what did that matter? Maria had been prepared to set her cap for someone she considered actually elderly, a man in his fifties or more, if necessary, and endure his attentions in exchange for status, but… This Mr. McCoy was definitely well-off, if he had a town named after him. That was better than she expected, to find a man good-looking, fairly young, as well as rich, and not have to travel across the entire country to do so.
She tried to be cold in her appraisal, ignoring the little tingles of delight she felt every time he glanced at her. Why am I trying to fool myself? I like him. Possibly I could love him.
Unaware of her scrutiny, Padraig raised his cup, sipping the coffee it contained. He set down the cup, “Now then, what would you like t’ know?”
“About what?” She looked puzzled.
“About me, o’ course. It appears t’ me you’re not th’ type o’ lass t’ go off with a stranger, so I’m for makin’ certain I’m no longer that, an’ th’ way t’ do it is for me t’ tell you about meself.”
“I already know about you,” she said.
“Oh? An’ exactly what do you know?’
They were flirting, Padraig realized with a shock. Something he hadn’t done in a decade. Saloon girls didn’t require any, so he was surprised he hadn’t forgotten how. This time, however, it wasn’t a mere dalliance he had in mind but something much more serious…and permanent. That shook him even more.
“You’re Padraig McCoy,” she answered, looking down at her hands as if stricken shy. “You’re obviously an Irishman, so I might wonder how you got here. You’re also a gentleman and, by your own admission, well-liked by this town.”
“Did you succeed?”
“I believe I have.” He said it in such a way he sounded surprised to discover the fact. “I started out as a cowhand for th’ Circle-J, which was th’ largest ranch in these parts, still is for that matter. Then me boss was killed on a cattle drive.” Here Padraig paused and took a deep breath. “An’ I bought th’ ranch. ’Tis now th’ Shamrock. I suppose I’m well-liked by most o’ th’ people around here. I’ve certainly tried t’ ingratiate meself an’ I truly love this town.” He paused. “Let’s see…what else should I say? I’m thirty-one years old, still got all me hair an’ me teeth, an’ haven’t been sick since th’ influenza epidemic of ’54.”
“An’ you’re a terrible flirt,” Maria added.
“Oh nay,” he disagreed. He realized he was rapidly recovering all the qualities he’d once used on women and thought he’d forgotten. Gaillich words spoken in amorous conversation came back to him, lurking and preparing to be launched into this one. His speech patterns were also becoming more like the licentious lad he’s been. “I’m a great flirt.”
“What does your wife think of that, Mr. McCoy?” Maria decided she’d better find out his marital status before she went any further. No need to waste attention on him if he was already taken. She had no desire to become a mistress no matter how tempting the man. “Does she approve of your whisking young women off stagecoaches and taking them to breakfast?”
“I’ve no idea.” Padraig met her eyes in a direct stare shaking her in its intensity. “You haven’t married me yet.”
The Man from Tipperary, as well as the other novels in the series, is available in paperback from Class Act Books: http://www.classactbooks.com/cat-romance/cat-western/the-man-from-tipperary-6832016-04-14-02-14-50-detail and in Kindle from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Tipperary-McCoys-Book-ebook/dp/B01E9RKP4U/
POSTED FOR TONI V. SWEENEY. HAPPY FRIDAY ‘ALL!