There was a mashed potato war in our family. On Sunday after church the aunties and uncles and cousins would arrive at our house laden with chickens and roasts, salads and jello, cakes, pies, green bean casseroles and the ubiquitous cornbread, red beans, bisquits and red-eye gravy. (The uncle's pockets also usually held small silver flasks of whiskey which they hid from Grandma and their wives.)
The house and porches overflowed with arguing and laughter. Smoke curled up from the men's cigars and tantalizing smells of frying chicken or roast beef made our bellies growl as we waited for 2:00. Finally the aunties would begin to scurry in and out of the steaming kitchen to load the trestle tables Dad and his brothers had set up, inside or out, depending on the weather. Once we all were seated (kids had to sit at a smaller table) Grandma would stand at the head of the big folks table and say an extended thank you to Jesus. When the smaller kids started to cry from starvation she'd quit so we'd sometimes pinch a little one to make them bawl. She'd pause, everyone would give a hearty "AMEN!", fall to and start filling their plates.
Butter, milk, salt and good hard exercise was what Mama used to whip five pounds of potatoes into a bowl of cloud-like consistency that rarely passed around the table before it was emptied at Sunday dinner. On the other hand Grandma's potatoes were (Mama said dismissively) lumpy. She liked to leave little chunks of potato in them, so they "don't feel like wallpaper paste in your mouth," she'd say a bit sourly, passing on Mama's potatoes.
The Bible part of the potato war was in how Grandma "seasoned" hers, with bits of fried bacon and bacon grease, and served with red-eye gravy. This meant of course that Mama would not eat them, as Seventh-Day Adventists believe it is sinful to eat the cloven hoofed pig or the succulent catfish, squirrel, possum, or rabbit that occasionally turned up for Sunday dinner, courtesy of my brothers, uncles and cousins who had long guns and spent Saturday afternoons in the woods. And of course Grandma would no more leave the bacon grease out of her mashed potatoes than she would make a pilgrimage to Rome. As far as she was concerned if God hadn't meant for her to put bacon in her mashed spuds he wouldn't have made the pig so tasty.
Grandma's bowl of "lumpy" potatoes would be passed around and Mama would hand it on, lips pulled tighter than a banker's purse strings. While I was a little Adventist child on Saturday morning, on Sunday afternoon I had a Baptist stomach. I loved Grandma's lumpy potatoes, and the red-eye gravy dumped over them, but if I got any it was a quick mouthful off the spoon from Grandma in the kitchen, after a round-the-corner check to make sure Mama was arguing Sabbath Day religion with one of the aunties. At the table I ducked my head and passed on Grandma's potatoes or there'd be righteous hell to pay later.
One week Daddy would make an enemy of Grandma, by scooping up a huge portion of Mama's potatoes and practically licking the remnants from his plate. The next Sunday he'd made an enemy of Mama, as he dove into his mother's dishpan-sized bowl of "lumpy" potatoes, seeking here and there a ribbon of grainy bacon dripping among the white hillocks. For Daddy was a Baptist, and as he was fond of saying, "One good thing about being a Baptist is a man can eat whatever he likes."