There are all kinds of strings: guitar strings, heartstrings, purse strings, string cheese and strings on the "Small Talk" mailbag.
Each Sunday's column generates feedback. Some pull at strings that open doors to fond memories. Some tug at strings that unlock laughter, tears and other emotions. I try to answer all the comments. Some are complimentary; others, not so much. I print out all the e-mails and keep a stack in chronological order. Every few months, I select a few to help me recapitulate.
At Easter, I wrote something about Jackie Walker picking out all the yellow jelly beans and sending them to me in a Baggie. I was in Ronald Reagan heaven. Several fine fans followed up with their own jelly bean stories. I was even directed to a store where I could purchase an entire bag for 50 cents. Nirvana.
My hamburger soup piece brought them out of the woodwork. Weslene Goodman wrote, "I'll have to make hamburger soup today. It made me hungry for some. As I was reading it, my grandmother's molasses cookies came to mind."
Now there's a fascinating segue.
Janice Hutchins wrote: "If you can tolerate one more hamburger soup story. My mom was French/Canadian and her maiden name was Marcoux. She threw tomatoes or tomato sauce into almost everything. After I got married, I made the soup quite often. My husband, who was not particularly fond of cooked tomatoes, said one night, 'I really do like your Marcoux soup, but you could go a bit easier on the tomatoes.' He named it that, and my family, friends and relatives still call it Marcoux soup."
In one column, I must have revealed my wintertime garb for barbecuing in the backyard when snow is on the ground. Sue Connick said, "I still have a hard time picturing you in an overcoat and bathing suit. Leo has mowed the lawn here, but he was properly attired."
Pat Parslow offered memories of spring weather: "Last year we went to an evening outdoor concert at Lilac Festival, mid-May. It was so chilly that we wore our parkas and gloves. We can also remember some other years when it snowed on the lilacs." She went on to say, "I remember reading … that you should plant potatoes when the oak leaves are the size of mouse ears."
Monica Emery wrote an e-mail covering a half-dozen column topics. She spoke of making ski toques in difficult patterns for family and friends. About the "optimism" column, she wrote, "We are increasingly aware of an attitude of pessimism and complaining that is wearing thin on us. Your column was a gem and so uplifting."
Commenting about the on-again, off-again spring weather, she said, "I hope your Johnny jump ups don't get confused."
Jo Bodah talked about wild edibles: "Leaks — we kids couldn't have any until Friday or Saturday because the resulting bad breath would be too overwhelming for the others in school the next day. When we were fishing, my mom said those water lily pads were called cowslips and could be cooked like spinach."
Sharon Whalen remembers, "One of the first meals I learned to make as a girl was 'pigweed' soup. I later learned the greens were actually lambsquarters, (that she served) with hot-buttered buttermilk biscuits and blueberry cake for desert, all from scratch, of course."
Bonnie Wingler mentioned my aversion to fiddleheads: "Yum. Cooked until just tender and served with butter and vinegar. If it wasn't for the snow, I'd go out back and see if any were starting."
SAUSAGE AND EGGS
On cigar boxes, a lady with a charming German accent stopped me in the store to say she had two — one containing old pictures and the other, cherished letters. Our daughter-in-law Judy says she keeps all of her receipts in an old cigar box.
My mention of the Pete Seegar song "Little Boxes" elicited Cornell fraternity memories for Jack Glasgow: "I got free food by performing as a singing breakfast waiter for my frat brothers. That was my favorite song and I would belt it out while bringing up the sausage and eggs from the galley in the basement."
Mary Bourey told me of her "El Producto Blunt" cigar box containing historical campaign buttons.
On Mother's Day and my love for Kaye, the quintessential wife and mother, Mary Margaret Finnan wrote, "My friend's son Caesar says, 'My mom smells like flowers.'"
Out of the mouths of babes. One of her friends said about the tribute, "You always know how to make a tear come to my eye."
Marge Wood wrote, "What an honor to a beautiful woman. You said it all and what you didn't say, we can fill in the blanks." Amen to that.
Thank you for your support. Have a great day and please, drive carefully.
Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the "Our Little Corner" television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.