Potluck Dinners In The Park

Mama always thought she and Daddy ought to become full-time RVers once he had retired in 1987. It would have been natural for my parents because they spent 7 1/2 years back in the '50s pulling various house trailers behind a variety of vehicles so that Daddy could get to his job sites across the country.

Instead, they settled in South Jackson, swapping our last trailer—a 1956 Pacemaker Tri-Level 35-foot, two-bedroom model—and our red and white 1957 GMC Suburban Carry-All for a two-bedroom house with a den and a carport and a 1955 4-door Oldsmobile. By 1968 Daddy had made their first RV from a wrecked Dodge cleaners' delivery van. By the late 1970s they had graduated to their first Winnebago. Mama and Daddy even joined a Winnebago club made up of folks from middle Mississippi.

Every local club meeting took place at a campground or a state park, Friday through Sunday. "We managed for ourselves on Friday nights," Mama says, "and the pot-luck supper was always on Saturday." Since most of these couples had been married an impressive number of years, the wives knew what to take to the potluck so that their husbands would be happy eaters. "We tried to please the men—we were from that era," Mama says, "and we did a pretty good job of it."

Mama always took potato salad and two chocolate pies—all made from scratch except for the crust—and maybe roast and potatoes or deviled eggs. Other wives contributed casseroles of all kinds. Then there were vegetables—sometimes fresh from the garden or produce stand—Jell-O salads, macaroni salad, macaroni and cheese, maybe steaks.

Now Mama is a full-timer, and I live with her—she sold the house after Daddy died in 1999, then the last of three Winnebagos and ended up in a King of the Road fifth wheel trailer. At first we were up at Timberlake at the Reservoir where we became great friends with two couples in particular, Kay and Milton Smith and Joy and Ron Swaim. People would walk up with those same potluck dinner staples that Mama knew so well. Often there was a big difference—Milton would fry fish, hush puppies, fries; Kay would make chicken and dumplings and rice—"We put our dumplings on rice down in Smith County," she laughingly explains. Although Mama's age was catching up with her, she could still crank out some darn good deviled eggs.

The families moved to Byram in 2003, to the Swinging Bridge RV Resort where we've made new friends, and potluck dinners continue to be a treat. Sometimes we walk up the road to Ron and Joy's where he grills steaks or pork tenderloins; Joy makes scalloped potatoes, slaw, whatever goes best with the meat. Sometimes we head next door where Milton fries fish, adding some mighty fine fried jalapenos. Kay makes banana pudding for dessert. We've got some new neighbors out our front door—Margaret and Tony Allen. Though there hasn't been a potluck dinner lately, she recently brought over the perfect dish for such an event—Taco Soup. "Some woman at one of my son's soccer games years ago told me about this," Margaret explains, "all you have to do is remember seven ingredients." Here's the recipe.

Taco Soup (4-6 servings)
1 to 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 16 oz. can pinto beans
1 11 oz. can whole kernel corn
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 pkg. ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix
1 bag corn chips, your choice
Optional, shredded cheese for garnish

Brown the meat in a large stockpot. Drain. Sprinkle the two packages of dry ingredients onto the meat, mixing it in well. Pour in all of the canned ingredients, stirring to mix together. Simmer on top of the stove for 30 minutes. Spoon into individual serving bowls and garnish with cheese. Serve with corn chips on the side.

Previous Comments


Thanks Lynette! I also like to garnish with lettuce. I strongly, strongly recommend FRITOS with this one. Crunched up like a saltine. It can also be crock potted EASILY.


i use the same recipe but mixed in with a dab of sour cream throw it in a bowl and your good to go



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