Thursday, September 29, 2011

John Barth and My Favorite Late Night Snack

What on earth could John Barth, author of "Giles Goat-Boy," "The Sot-Weed Factor," and "Chimera" (National Book Award winner)  have to do with my favorite late night snack?  

Well - bear with me and I'll tell you.

When I met John Barth back in the early or mid-sixties what he was most famous for in Cambridge, Maryland was being the son of Judge John J. "Whitey" Barth, owner of Whitey's Candy Land.   This was before a good deal of his work became required reading on college campuses throughout the country.

The work most of Cambridge was most interested in was John Barth's first book,  "The Floating Opera," (a National Book Award nominee).   That's the book that was always selling out at Whitey's.   Although fiction, it still seemed a bit "familiar" to local residents who continue to swear they can spot certain individuals in the cast of characters in this novel based on a small coastal town in Maryland.

Cambridge honored one of her most famous sons on June 14, 2010.  Sadly, I was not there for this grand occasion, I would have loved it.  Not that I would ever expect him to remember me - the 60s was, after all - a long, long time ago.  Along with the fact that he was beginning to become quite famous when we met, and I was a skinny little 16 year old bookworm in awe of meeting a real author.  

John Barth concluded his day of honor by noting that “Cambridge, the rivershore, and the great down county salt marshes were my life’s coordinates from birth through high school through college and my first efforts as a writer of fiction, and they remain as touchstones of my imagination.”

What does any of this have to do with me?

I was working in Whitey's Candy Land while I was in high school, along with one of my very best girlfriends (then and now), Pam Howell Mills.  (Oh, the stories). 

It was my first ever job, and I loved it, and I loved Whitey.  It was a fun place to work, and working with Pam was just the icing on the cake.  The cherry on top was that it was where some of our high school friends would come to hang out after classes while we were working, so it was really more fun than work.

And it was here at Whitey's Candy Land, of course, that I met John Barth.  My first author meeting ever.  Who knew what that was going to lead to??!

Whitey's, in addition to being an old fashioned candy store, was also a luncheonette with a soda fountain.  Because Whitey didn't like the smell of grease, there were only cold plate lunches; tuna salad or chicken salad sandwiches, served with Miss Georgia's (Whitey's wife) homemade soup, which she would make at home and bring in every day.  When Pam and I worked on Saturdays, our workday included lunch.  Pam loves to remind me that my lunch was always (always!) tuna salad on toast and a coke.  Followed by dessert.  Ice cream with chocolate syrup and a bag of potato chips.   A lot of people don't really "get" that combination . . . .

Which leads me to My Favorite Late Night (morning, noon OR night, actually!) Snack - ta DA!!!!!!

Ben & Jerry's Late Night Snack Ice Cream.


Vanilla bean ice cream with a salty caramel swirl and fudge-covered potato chip clusters.  

It's dedicated to Jimmy Fallon to thank him and his late night crew for singing an ode to snacking on Vermont’s Finest, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. 

Late Night Snack should win over the "salty" fans, along with the "sweet" fans.   Put me at the head of that salty/sweet line!

And I'll think of Cambridge and Whitey and his son John, and my friend Pam with every single spoon full.

Join me, won't you?


LJ Roberts said...

"The Sot-Weed Factor" and "Giles-Goat Boy" were my summer beach reads at the Jersey Shore during the summer of 1967. I was 17 years old and in my serious phase of reading.

I'm right with you in the salty-sweet line. I love nuts in everything and have been known (as in yesterday) to toss crushed potato chips on top of my sorbet or ice cream. Salty-sweet is the best combination, ever.

Jill said...

Yum. I like salty-sweet combos too. Enjoyed your post!

Unknown said...

The '60s don't seem all that long ago to me, Kaye! I loved those John Barth novels, and I even taught them a time or two during my career. I'm pretty sure I'd be too intimidated by the length of a couple of them to pick them up now, but I still have them on the shelves.