By: Billy and Linda Johnson
I call him George. He lived a couple of houses down across the street in our neighborhood. A friendly guy that always waived as he drove by and always in a late model Cadillac. His bald head seemed to fit his paunchy body. His wife sat beside him many times. Her silver hair fit her age and prim appearance. Others told us George owned his on medical equipment business and did quite well.
Work and family kept us busy, so we never thought much about George, until his wife died about seven years ago. Even though we did not know either of them very well personally, we felt sorry for him. Losing a loved one is devastating. We know. One of us occasionally inquired of neighbors who knew George better as to how he was doing. We received optimistic feedback and noticed a steady stream of cars into his driveway during the months after his wife’s death. George had children living in the area as well as a bevy of friends.
Perhaps a half-dozen of George’s friends were older women who pulled into his driveway and exited their cars, always holding something in their hands, away from their bodies. Eventually, it dawned on us. These older women carried food. From the sizes and shapes of their packages, they most probably brought George some sort of casserole. We began calling them the Casserole Ladies.
We vehemently deny any suggestions of snooping. Most of our observations occurred while sitting on our front porch, enjoying pleasant Alabama weather. Our conversations went something like this.
“Looks like another Casserole Lady just went into George’s,” one of us would say. “Wonder what this one is bringing?” the other would ask in return.
“Green bean casserole?” This is a favorite in the South.
“Squash casserole?” Not as widely seen at social gatherings as is green bean casserole but more delicious, in one of our humble opinions.
This went on for about six months until the stream of cars narrowed down to one. We forget the make and model but remember its driver as being a nice-looking older lady. She usually brought things with her. They did not appear to be limited to casseroles or even food. We noticed her car parked in George’s driveway for longer and longer periods and sometimes even overnight.
“Looks like this Casserole Lady is staying,” one of us might have said as the woman drove
by and waived to us while we sat on our front porch.
“She probably had the winning casserole,” the other might have replied in tasteful jest. Her car became a permanent fixture and remained so until George died, about three years after his wife.
No reports of marriage during that time ever surfaced. At their age, who cares? Something we most remember is George and his Casserole Lady waiving, smiling, and talking as they drove by.
No doubt he cared for and missed his deceased wife. But she was gone, and life went on. George’s family deserved a father and grandfather not incapacitated by grief.
We talked about George one evening after he passed away, and an idea formed. George’s
situation was not unique. Differences in gender longevity exist on a widespread basis throughout the United States. Many older women seek companionship from a smaller pool of eligible males. We had noticed the Casserole Lady phenomenon before. How do unmarried women cope? How do they compete? Growing old can be a problem or an opportunity.
Thus, our idea morphed into a book, THE CASSEROLE LADIES. We opted to make it a
fictional humorous look at how five older unmarried Southern women compete for eligible
bachelors in a world producing an insufficient supply. We figured after COVID-19, this country needs a good laugh. We just published our book this spring and hope it tickles readers’ funny bones. George would approve. Thank you, George.
Billy and Linda Johnson are a husband and wife writing team and live in Florence, Alabama. Both grew up in the South—Linda in Sewanee, Tennessee and Billy in Panama City, Florida.
Both attended the University of the South in Sewanee and got married shortly after graduation. Linda became a housewife and mother and raised two children during seventeen moves across the country. Billy’s forty-one-year career as a healthcare executive, half of that as an officer in the United States Navy Medical Service Corps, necessitated a stabilizing influence, and Linda stepped up to the plate. They have a daughter who lives with her family in Virginia. Besides writing, they spend much of their time traveling.
THE CASSEROLE LADIES (ISBN: 978-1-7374282-0-6) is their first collaboration.
The book is available on Amazon in paperback or eBook. You can visit Billy’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Billy4GoodBooks