The Wonder Years-Junket, Fizzies, Elks and Marlon Perkins

Published 8:06 pm Monday, November 7, 2022

I mentioned in one of my columns over a year ago that sometimes when I thought about something, a phenomenon similar to Laura Nemeroff’s book, ‘If You Give a Mouse A Cookie’ took over my brain, and my thoughts ended up eons from the original one. I often wonder why this happens.

I just had the same experience when I was in Food Lion and spotted a box of Junket.  I was truly surprised it was still on the market. I was first introduced to Junket when I was ten by my Aunt Olivia.  She had made an ice cream dessert out of it and served it to my sisters and me. It looked good but once I heard the name of it, the dessert lost its appeal.  A food product named Junket no matter how good it looked just didn’t go well with me. I wondered why it was called Junket.

Junket’s long history would take up all of my column space, so I won’t try to tell you too much about it. But it has been around for a long time, since the 1870’s.  The Junket memory brought up the Fizzies’ memory.  Fizzies’ were one of my favorite drinks, even better than Kool-Aid in my opinion.   Earlier in the day, Lena and I had finished the last two Fizzies’ tablets. Fizzies were a very popular option to soda in the late 50’s and sixties.  They were tablets the size of an Alka Seltzer tablet that were made with fruit flavoring, citric acid, an artificial sweetener and sodium bicarbonate.  When added to a glass of water, the effervescent action made the tablets fizz, and you ended up with a sweet cool drink. I decided that I would make my own version of a Fizzies tablet and used two Alka Seltzer tablets mixed with Tang to make my fizzy drink.  A few swallows and well, it made me quite sick. (I wondered why my Fizzies recipe didn’t work.)  My aunt ended up making Junket for dessert because Junket was supposed to be better for upset stomachs.

After the fizzy episode later that afternoon, I heard my mom and my aunt singing a song, the Spring Garden Baptist Church Choir would be singing Sunday morning. I sat there listening and wondering why anybody would be singing about laundry at church. I wondered about that every time the choir marched in singing it. I was a teenager before I realized they were singing ‘Bringing in The Sheaves’, not ‘Bringing in The Sheets.’

After they finished singing, they excitedly talked about the ‘Elks turning out’ Sunday afternoon after church.  All I knew about elks was what I had seen on the Wild Kingdom TV show with Marlin Perkins. I wondered why anybody would get excited about animals being turned out.  These Elks weren’t animals. Turns out the Elk’s parade was a very big deal here in Washington.

How many of you remember the Elks Lodge or were members of it? ‘The African American Elks Lodge’ was first located at 222 West Fifth Street and later moved to the Bruce Payton Building on Gladden Street where the old I. B. Turner Library was located. It was about a half a block from the legendary Pomp Credle’s restaurant. The Elks were founded on June 10, 1897, in Cincinnati Ohio and national wide the Elks ‘turned out,’ meaning had their big parade the 3rd Sunday in May. The parade here were accompanied by the PS Jones High School marching band, churches and other civic groups. The ‘Elks” were formed as the ‘Improved and Protective Order of Elks of The World’ and was the largest African American fraternal organization in the world. Their headquarters is in Winton NC. The Daughters of the Improved and Protective Order of Elks was formed in 1902 by an African American woman Emma Virginia Kelly in Norfolk Virginia. The Elks members ranged from elderly men and women to young children and were resplendent in the purple and white attire. I wonder whatever happened to the Elks. So, from Junket at Food Lion to the Elks Parade, that’s how my brain works. I wonder why?

Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the co-founder and co-executive director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.