Sundays at Faded Glory Farm
Although our weekly guest population peaks every Sunday, each Sunday is, in and of itself, a carefully orchestrated venture for Isabel and Micah. In addition to their considerable responsibilities at Faded Glory, they are dedicated church goers and regular members at our nearby Wilscot Creek Baptist Church. I can’t speak for Micah, but I know for sure that Isabel hasn’t missed a service in four years, even during Louella’s absence after her accident last year.
Louella doesn’t go to church, and, as far as I know, she never has. Louella Hightower Hess officiates over the kitchen, the Inn, and the Inn’s guests every Sunday to free Isabel up so that she can get her weekly ‘religious sustenance.’ In essence, Louella’s the “boss” on Sundays.
Every Sunday morning, like clockwork, Louella roars in at her usual 6 a.m. arrival time and begins to work her morning magic in the kitchen. By 6:20 a.m., she is punching out biscuits on her work table, and both of our huge Vulcan ovens are pre-heated and ready to receive her shining stainless steel trays of unbaked White Lily Lighter n ‘Air Biscuits.
Meanwhile, Micah has also arrived, donned a fresh white apron and usually begins his day frying several rashers of extra-thick sliced bacon and two or three pounds of plump natural-casing sausages on the stove’s heavy, glistening steel griddle. Hans Stutzmeyer, Isabel’s German butcher, has been making up his own fresh sausage for more than thirty years, and our walk-in cooler usually contains 15-20 feet of those savory sausage, in a bulging cardboard butchers’ box.
Because Sunday is check-out day for the majority of our weekend guests, Isabel does her best to see that every Sunday becomes a day to remember. Soon the aroma of Louella’s sawmill gravy permeates the air. Micah always reserves some bacon fat and blackens a few pieces of Han Stutzmeyer’s bacon and sausage to break up and blend into this rich white gravy, providing extra flavor and aroma.
With the exception of the Sundays when Isabel’s legendary southern-fried chicken is served, Isabel busies herself preparing the Sunday noon roast that will go into the main oven shortly after Louella pulls out her biscuits. Isabel’s roasts traditionally cook while she is at church, and if they require any basting during the process, Louella, of course, is there to do it. Most of the time, Isabel’s carefully home-prepared dry-rubs do the trick, and continued basting is not required.
Once breakfast is served and the roast is in the oven, Isabel removes her apron, shakes off the flour dust, heads for her shower, and redirects her attention to getting herself ready for church. Since Micah usually leaves his ‘Sunday best’ hanging in a closet just off the kitchen, he disappears shortly after Isabel to get himself ready. I was noticing just the other Sunday that Micah ‘cleans up’ really good on Sundays, and you’d scarcely recognize him when he’s wearing his white shirt, suit, and tie. Isabel, bless her heart, always looks a little “frumpy” in the Sunday outfits that she selects for her church visits. She bought some pretty outfits in Atlanta after her Weight Watchers miracle, but I guess that she considers them a little frivolous for Sunday wear. Pity . . .
Isabel rarely leaves out for church without making one last pass through the dining room to make sure her guests are happy and well-fed. Then she stops at her desk in the front vestibule to pick up Ray’s well-worn Whitlow family bible before she leaves. I guess this brings back lots of fond memories, even though I don’t believe Ray spent much time perusing it while he was alive. Ray was funny that way.
Most Sundays, since Ray died, Lisa Tipton comes by and carries Isabel and Micah to church in her car. Lisa and her husband, Randy, brought Isabel home from Ray’s funeral, and Lisa has done it ever since. I actually think that Isabel is relieved not to have to drive her Rolls to church — she doesn’t want to seem like she is showing off — and since Randy died, she has been giving Lisa a few dollars each week for her gas. Around here, friends still keep close watch over their friends.
Reverend Calvin runs his church like a well-oiled machine. You can set your watch by the end of his sermons, and Isabel and Micah are always back in plenty of time to help Louella serve up dinner. I really think that Louella could easily handle Sunday dinner all by herself, but Isabel prides herself at being there every Sunday to deliver the blessing. Since Isabel no longer makes her ‘old reliable’ bread pudding, I no longer eagerly await Sunday dinners like I once did. On top of that, Micah always eats his desserts these days. Times have really changed.
Years ago, when the Inn first opened, a number of our male guests would retire to the west porches for cigars after dinner. Micah would hand out fresh Garcia y Vega cigars to those who wished to partake, and the far end of the porch would become enveloped in the pungent aroma of fine cigars. That growing tradition came to an end one Sunday when Violet Maude decided to join the men and sat down on a smoldering ashtray on one of the porch chairs. Dr. Mike Burke’s unattended cigar, and Violet’s hot-pink polyester skirt, combined to create ten minutes of fiery mayhem on the porch that afternoon. Although she wasn’t injured badly, Violet suffered a nasty burn on her right buttock. Isabel’s insurance settled quietly out of court, and cigars were no longer welcome on the porch after that. Violet’s husband commented that Violet’s backside had never been clapped and patted by so many men in her entire lifetime as it was that afternoon. Its just lucky we dogs can’t laugh. Nowadays, Isabel hands out mints after Sunday dinner.
Although Sunday check-out time for our weekend guests is 4 p.m., time hangs heavy after the noon meal is finished. Faced with the prospect of getting the kids ready for school on Monday morning and those unfinished chores lurking on guest’s at-home “honey-do lists,” the weekenders begin to pack up to leave, and most are gone before 3 p.m.
The Inn’s weekly guests, of course, remain; but each Monday morning brings a major cleaning with the help of Rita and Patricia, our faithful cleaning staff.
Running a successful Bed and Breakfast requires hard work and lots of mental discipline. Isabel says that “lack of attention to small details” is the primary reason for the failure of most Bed and Breakfasts, and she insists on maintaining very high standards for cleanliness and good service. Isabel once said that she “loves to see her guests arrive almost as much as she enjoys seeing them leave.”
For Isabel and our small staff here at Faded Glory, “the show must go on” every week — come rain, shine, Hell or high water. Needless to say, the welcome mat is always out – here at Faded Glory.