Eleanor Lillian Loback was born in 1918, not far from where the Chatahoochie River holds Georgia Georgia, and if you’re from Georgia like her, Alabama holds something else. He grew up in Blakely, beyond, near fishing camps, bootleg liquor, and endless groves of walnut trees. It is a fact that when the first inhabitants of Europe moved to Georgia, displacing the native Indians at the behest of King George of Great Britain, the walnut trees were native giants that stretched hundreds of meters into the Georgian sun. To harvest the walnuts, they simply cut down the trees.
Eleanor grew up to be the legendary Ida Lane, an eccentric ragtime pianist who had plucked her Southern roots and brought them back to the Alaskan tundra, rapping furious rags at the old Malemute Saloon in the twenty-seven town of Ester. . . She was known for her crazy adventures and practical jokes and nothing compared to her famous Cinnamon Screamers.
It happened this way. In 1965, after a long night of pounding ivory and a generous course of bourbon, Ida slipped out of her elegant piano dress and into her comfortable hiking gear. I often had the yearning to search for abandoned cabins at 3 a.m., when the Alaskan summer sun was damn high perched up. If he found one, he would open it and then drag what he could onto his own cottage miner hats, gold pans, berry pickers, vintage soda bottles, and just about anything that could fit in his backpack.
This particular outing was a bad-robbery one, but upon his return he stumbled upon a pile of year-old moose droppings on a narrow trail that divided a field of thick fire grass. It should be noted that elk droppings are roughly the same shape and size as good Georgia nuts and I don’t imagine this went unnoticed when you picked up a mess and brought it back to the camp kitchen. He set about making a thick flour dough with a pinch of salt and baking soda. In this he poured about 25 to 40 moose droppings. Then, delicately, he dropped them into a deep pot of hot fat until they puffed up like elongated donut holes. She drained them, sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon, and let them cool a bit. Then he placed them all in an old straw basket, attached a sign that said “Cinnamon Screamers: 25 cents” and carried them into the living room where they sat among the pickled eggs and dried salmon.
The crafty bartender and waiters managed to sell them all in thirty minutes. The clients were subsequently asked. An old miner said: “Very sweet on the outside but dry as the devil 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?”