Opinion: Thoughts go to Peggy when I eat a greasy taco

 

June 28, 2020



We never celebrated Taco Tuesday at Peggy Baca’s house; we ate ’em nearly every night.

As I was busy browning taco meat last Tuesday my mind wandered back to weeknights in college at Peggy’s and eating tacos in her apartment’s tiny kitchen.

My best friend Jerry and I first made Peggy’s acquaintance at the shooting range downstairs in the ROTC Armory at Eastern New Mexico University. Riflery was in the catalog as a class when we arrived on the scene as freshmen and we were all about shooting and figured we could show whoever hung out at that range a thing or two.

A petite-looking little gal with glasses was there and we were soon to learn that she could kick our butts on the range. The instructor tried to tell us women were always his best shooters because they would listen and do what he said. They also had more hip to rest on in the standing off–hand.

My buddy eventually started dating this little spark plug of a gal, who had a mouth that could make a frat guy blush. She never backed down on anything and once she got to know you she could be a bit of a chatterbox.

She had an off-campus apartment that was actually part of a remodeled World War II barracks. My buddy and I were both still living at home so Peggy’s became our evening hangout spot.

Being college students, funds were usually tight so we took turns buying the ground beef, tortillas and beans. Supper was rarely before 8 p.m. since we had jobs too. We were even known to make tacos as late as midnight.

Peggy never asked for any help in the kitchen and there really wasn’t room anyway. Someone else could grate longhorn cheese from one of those big half moon blocks at the table or dice onion or tomato.

Peggy had a cast iron skillet nearly as big as the top of that apartment stove. It would brown two pounds of meat pretty quickly once it got good and hot. She fried the tortillas in the same pan and let those corn tortillas get cooked just enough to absorb lots of grease but still stay soft and limp.


Most nights we would eat 4-8 of those tacos apiece. Amazingly enough, little Peggy could hold her own at the table with two farm boys.

Neither of us had ever had tacos like that, it was her family’s staple.

If we weren’t having tacos someone would spring for pizza or we did have a little Hibachi grill on the back stoop that we could grill hamburgers on if we were patient enough to wait for the coals.

Peggy’s tacos were our college comfort food. It bonded the three of us together for a time. The other two continued on through the ROTC program and accepted Army commissions.

Jerry and I reconnected since we had known each other for most all our school days. He broke up with Peggy before going off to the Army and I haven’t seen her since. I think about her and that little apartment every time I eat a greasy taco.


Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

[email protected]

 
 

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