- Cullman, Alabama

July 26, 2013

Paula Deen

Loretta Gillespie, Correspondent
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — Paula Deen came up from the ranks of hardworking single moms to become an icon in American culture. She worked hard and by chance was discovered by some food network exec that was sick at home one day and surfing through the channels for something to watch.

From the very beginning, Paula exemplified what the South is, and always has been about graciousness, hospitality, good food, fun and a great sense of humor. She cooked like our mommas and our grandmommas cooked, and like we try to cook, and hope our daughters will someday be able to cook. We could identify with her because she was so down to earth and laughed at herself as much as anything else.

She never skimped on the butter, or the sugar, like some cooking shows, so we knew her recipes would taste better than the others. She was and always will be the real deal.

Now, as the media and some who simply want to join a bandwagon, have begun to crucify her as we watch, it reminds me so much of others who have been persecuted and ruined because of some unintended and long forgotten slight or mistake. But never, have I ever, seen anything wait so long to rear its ugly head....

Politicians usually get “outed” when they are in a close race. Perfect timing, but why wait so long? Why not tell it when it happened? Huh....Ray Charles could see through that — timing, of course! People who want to make a big sensation so that votes are thrown to the opposition out of anger and confusion, or contempt for the moral issues of strangers that have been suddenly and forcefully jammed down the throats of the public.

It's the same as with politics, or with domestic issues, or a hundred other situations. The answer? Follow the for who benefits from this fiasco. Chances are it will be the next “big” personality on the Food Network.....which I for one, will not be watching. But mark my words, if they continue to slam this woman, it could just backfire on them, whoever they may be, because this is a Southern lady who has many fans — friends because they've been “in” her kitchen, had coffee and muffins with her in the morning, made cakes with her and smiled when she told a joke. We identify with her because she is so genuine.

Did she say it? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Were you? She admitted something, but it was over 20 years ago, how in the world did she even remember what she said that long ago? At least she didn’t lie.

Personally, I’d have to take the fifth on something that far back. If I’ve slept since I said it, chances are I won’t remember it.

Not to mention how much all people change over the course of 20 years’ time! My goodness, if I’ve said or done something that offended someone that long ago, please forgive my youth, innocence, naiveté, inexperience, carelessness, rudeness, or thoughtlessness. I had teenagers at the time and I was certifiably crazy back then.

Age softens all of us. It makes us more understanding, less critical, more accepting and less judgmental. I’m almost sure that’s true for Paula…she has come so far, met so many people from all walks of life, been faced with so many decisions, I’m fairly certain that she has mellowed like the rest of us. So, if she did say this thing which is hurtful to some people and offensive to others, let’s forgive her and get on with our lives.