Sunday, October 25, 2020

Sidna Brower Mitchell: An Ole Miss Reunion on Gasparilla Island

Photo courtesy U.S. Government
Photo courtesy U.S. Government

As I passed a line of newspaper boxes, my eyes landed on one for the Boca Beacon, the paper for Gasparilla Island (Boca Grande). Since Ken and I really enjoy the island beaches and the Pink Elephant restaurant, I immediately stopped to pick up the newspaper.

Later as I perused the island news, my eyes fell on an upcoming event at the Fust Library. “The Honorable James W. Symington Heard and Overheard” was the headline for an upcoming reading and book-signing.

Last year when I saw a picture of the former Missouri Congressman in the Gasparilla magazine I called Jim. From his D.C. home, he said he was working on a book that included his time as assistant to Attorney General Bobby Kennedy when James Meredith integrated the University of Mississippi. I met Jim Symington during that time as editor of the Daily Mississippian.

We’ve kept in touch over the years but I haven’t seen him and his wife Sylvia in quite a while so I said to Ken, “We’ve got to go to the reading.” We made the 45-minute drive to Gasparilla Island, ate in the Pink Elephant, took a walk on the beach and headed over to the library to listen to Heard and Overheard.

Jim told and read stories about Ole Miss, his careers and his family. One story that got a big laugh was about his godmother and cousin Joan Payson who owned the New York Mets. A passionate opera supporter, his godmother when the production of Aida was late starting, leaned over the railing of her box and yelled, “Play Ball!” The curtain soon went up.

After the reading and Jim’s book-signing stint, Sylvia invited us to join them for a drink. We had a delightful time reminiscing and the two guys talking about their experiences in the Marines.

We drove back to Venice and decided, since it had been a long time since we ate lunch, we were hungry. I took the opportunity to try out a quick recipe. The inspiration came from a Hillshire Farm recipe in a Better Homes and Garden magazine. Here’s what I did.

Sausage Alfredo

1 Knorr’s Fettuccine Alfredo package

1 cup sausage medallions

¼ cup chopped onions

1 tablespoon olive oil

Cut the sausage pieces in half. Briefly brown in olive oil.

Add onions and sauté until translucent.

Meanwhile prepare the Knorr’s Fettuccine Alfredo according to directions.

Add sausage and onions and mix well.

Makes two servings.

Serve immediately.

NOTE: If there are any leftovers, save for breakfast and zap.

Sidna Brower Mitchell can be reached via e-mail at

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