My heart smiles when I hear Yogi Bear’s voice bellowing, “Hey, hey, Boo-Boo!”
I could identify with his love for picnics, but I couldn’t see Yogi as symbolic of the typical scavenging bear. He was just a common picnic-basket thief.
I didn’t know about situation ethics, but I was discerning enough to know there was no justification for Yogi ruining someone else’s picnic by taking their sandwiches, fried chicken, pickles or chocolate-chip cookies.
These were some of the things my mama put in a picnic basket, usually for the 12-hour drive from Thomasville to Camp Lejeune, N.C.
I imagined that if a Yogi-type character ever tried to take our picnic lunch, he’d first have to deal with my daddy, and then my brother and me. We already were on the verge of combat over who’d get the extra drumstick.
My grandmama would fry two chickens before our predawn road trip. The smell of fried chicken dominated everything else in the basket, including ham sandwiches, homemade pickles, fresh-baked cookies and tater salad.
There was no Interstate 95 and no rest stops along Highway 17, but there were roadside picnic tables in the most remote, swampiest part of coastal South Carolina.
Eating a cold lunch while sitting at mildewed tables covered in bird droppings on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere — these were great memories. We were spending time outside and eating — my favorite activities — and sharing family time. When I grew up, I made sure my kids got to experience the fun of family picnics (but not on the side of the highway).
As a daddy, I preferred state parks and recreation areas at the beach, lake or mountains. Because the lunch itself was less important than the time together outdoors, I’d often pick up sandwiches, chips and drinks or let Bojangles do their chicken ‘n biscuits magic.
If you’re going to have a picnic, you’ll probably want tater salad. Here’s a simple recipe:
Bacon Potato Salad
7 medium white potatoes, sliced in cubes
4 slices of bacon
2 boiled eggs
1 green onion
2 medium sweet pickles
1/4 green pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
Salt and pepper
Fry bacon until crispy. Boil potatoes with at least two tablespoons of salt. Hard-boil eggs. Chop green onion, pickles and a wedge of green pepper. Blend boiled potatoes with boiled eggs, veggies and crumpled bacon bits. Pepper to taste. If you like a touch of spice, add paprika.