A more expensive Hardees menu these days - Johnny Jackson

Gran-ma used to take her grandchildren to Hardees, so did granddad. But gran-ma took her tikes there for lunch. Granddad took his crew there for breakfast.

Gran-ma always bought hamburgers because her tikes always preferred them to cheeseburgers. She rarely ever ate hamburgers herself.

They seemed to be color-coded, wrapped in shiny alumnus paper steaming with flavor. If ever mustard had a smell--

There was always a little more mustard on those appetizing burgers than catch-up, or catsup. There are always two pickles, one bigger than the other. And the condiments seemed never to leave the comfortable burger center. Gran-ma's tikes would bit for days toward that flavorful filling.

They loved it. But even if they disgusted in it, they thought gran-ma was gold.

Those hamburgers were cheaper than the biscuits granddad bought. Hardees was his choice, an excellent choice, indeed.

None were thicker than those buttermilk biscuits, always the tongue flickers. Tongue-scraping the palate was merely half the battle for his crew.

One added sausage, the other added gravy, but the youngest ate the biscuit plain and simply with butter. Granddad drank coffee and ate a few biscuits smothered in gravy.

These dine-in-take-out dinners were summer luxuries for the grandchildren.

Granddad, an occasional hunter and consummate fisherman, knew how to cook what he caught. And he did that well. But anything else--

He built his house, farmed some 15-acres of his land, and gave most of his cache of crop away. Not much for a culinary artist, though. Perhaps, he was afraid his crew would reject him. That, they did, for his crop, pea-shelling and corn-shucking their way to an ounce of this crop or that with red-raw fingers. But they never rejected joining his hunting and fishing excursions.

Gran-ma made everything from "scratch," whatever that really means. She was renowned and unmatched for her sweet potato pie, tasting like creamy candy. She was obligated to cook a dozen every winter holiday, all hand-made, a feat when there is also a hardy feast to prepare. Her eldest sister made cookies and the passioned-sweet iced tea during the summer - dangerously sweet.

Gran-ma was handy about the house, in part, because of granddad. And her tikes were spoiled by that independence.

The now-older grandchildren talk about Hardees now, looking for ways to reminisce about their childhoods. Typically, they talk about the sameness in their experiences, getting pleasure from the agreement of certain experiences like the exaggerated mustard flavor on those burgers or the thickness in those "home-made" biscuits.

Mostly those experiences mirror abbreviated or extended sitcom scenarios. They are extremely popular at family reunions passed, but those routine experiences seem to have an element of authenticity too.

The burgers and biscuits are much more expensive these days; they are priceless pieces of collective memory.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the News Daily. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 or jjackson@news-daily.com .