Easter Ham

Linda Burton posting from Sacramento, California — I grew up on Easter ham. Mother baked it long and slow, brown sugar on the top, fragrant cloves rowed up in diamond-pattern style. Potato salad made with egg, and mustard, pickle relish too. When I became the Mom, I changed the pickles out for celery; it was the 70’s, and freshness was in vogue. In recent years of living on my own, I’ve favored eating out; sit back and be catered to, I say.

Where in Sacramento would I find some Easter ham? I browsed the internet, made a list of brunches at the big hotels and fancy restaurants. Do I really want the $50 elegance? The stand-in-line, the crowd? I’d need a nap, lose an afternoon for sure. So, something else. The internet revealed a matinee, Woody Guthrie’s American Song. It just so happens I’ve been humming one of Woody’s tunes as I’ve been traveling west.

From California to the New York island….from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters…

Those Gulf stream waters are not too far behind and I’m in California now. The words keep floating round…ribbon of highway, endless skyway, golden valley, diamond deserts, dust clouds rolling; I feel like I’ve been traveling right behind that Guthrie mind.

This land was made for you and me….

I called the number listed to see if I could get a last-minute ticket; no answer; I decided to just show up and see. “Yes, tickets are available,” I was told by the lone person inside at the counter, “but they won’t start selling for an hour.” I headed out the door.

A young woman coming in nodded; smiled at me. “Are you in the play?” I asked, and she confirmed she was. We began to talk, exchanging names (I’m Linda, she’s Jazzmen) talking of the play, and finally giving one another life advice, thoughts framed against the meaning of the words that Woody wrote.

Others joined us, just outside the door, JJ and Travis, the folksinger, and the guitar. They talked about their roles, the thrill of being in the play. They posed for pictures before they had to go. “I need some lunch,” I said, and Skyler pointed down the street, “Nick’s Diner,” he recommended, “it’s pretty good.”

I found Nick’s, on Harbor Blvd, delighted with the look of it. A 50’s place, a juke box to poke your quarters in; it took me back, to days with Mom and Dad, to Mrs Dilworth’s Home Ec class (she told us Coca Cola would eat our stomachs out). A perfect brunch, home style potatoes topped with scrambled eggs, on top of that, what else but Easter ham? http://www.nicksdiner.net/

The play was grand, the cast of twenty-four toed every mark and sang right to the heart of us; filled up the afternoon, the last words bringing nothing less than tears….

Nobody living can ever stop me, as I go walking that freedom highway, nobody living can ever make me turn back, this land was made for you and me.

The show continues through April 29, West Sacramento Community Center, 1075 West Capitol Avenue, presented by Sacramento City College. http://citytheatre.ticketleap.com/woody/#view=calendar

This year marks 100 years since Woody Guthrie’s birth. This Land is Your Land Centennial Concerts will be taking place throughout the country during the year. http://www.woodyguthrie.org/