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Cinnamon Screamers, Edible and Recyclable by Ida

Eleanor Lillian Loback was born in 1918, not far from where the Chatahoochie River holds Georgia into Georgia and, if you’re from Georgia, like her, holds Alabama into something else. She grew up in Blakely, back there near fishing camps, bootleg liquor, and endless walnut groves. It is a fact that when the first people from Europe arrived in Georgia, displacing the native Indians at the behest of Britain’s King George, the pecan trees were native giants stretching hundreds of feet into the Georgia sun. To harvest the nuts, they simply cut down the trees.

Eleanor grew up to be the legendary Ida Lane, an eccentric ragtime pianist who had uprooted her Southern roots and re-nailed them on the Alaskan tundra, thrashing furious rags at the old Malemute Saloon in the town of Ester, with a population of twenty-seven. She was known for her wild escapades and her practical jokes, and none of hers compared to her famous Cinnamon Screamers of hers.

It happened this way. In 1965, after a long night of ivory and a generous course of bourbon, Ida changed out of her elegant piano dress and into her comfortable mountain clothing. She often felt like searching for abandoned cabins at 3 in the morning, when the Alaskan summer sun was high up. If she found one, she’d break into it and then drag what she could to her own cabin: old miner’s hats, gold pans, berry pickers, vintage soda bottles, and just about anything she could fit in the cabin. backpack of hers

This particular outing was one of poor larceny but, upon his return, he stumbled upon a pile of yearling elk droppings on a narrow path that bisected a field of thick fireweed. It should be noted that moose droppings are about the same shape and size as good Georgia walnuts and I don’t imagine this went unnoticed when he picked up a mess and carried it back to the camp kitchen. He set about making a thick dough of flour with a pinch of salt and baking soda. On this he dumped around 25-40 moose droppings. Then, delicately, he dropped them into a deep pot of hot fat until they puffed up like oblong donut holes. He drained them, sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon, and let them cool slightly. Then he put them all in an old straw basket, put up a sign that read “Cinnamon Screamers: 25 Cents,” and led them into the parlor where they sat among the pickled eggs and dried salmon.

The crafty bartender and waiters managed to sell them all out in thirty minutes. Later the customers were asked. An old miner said, “Very sweet on the outside but dry as hell in the middle.” When he discovered the true ingredients of Ida’s Cinnamon Screamers, he took a long drink of beer and said, “It takes your breath away, doesn’t it?”

Galen Garwood

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