Thursday, April 21, 2011

Well Hello, Dolly!

Strong are thy walls O Salem
Thy virgin trees stand tall 
And far athwart the sunless hills
Thy stately shadows fall

Then sing we of Salem ever
As proudly her name we bear
Long may our praise re-echo 
Far  may our song ring clear
Long may our praise re-echo 
Far may our song (deep breath, sorry Mrs. B) ring clear!

And 3 more verses, which I can't bear to type out.  The above is the Salem Academy Alma Mater, and we sang it for darn near everything during high school.  And, yes, that does say "virgin trees."  

And yes, when we sang it, we were referring to ourselves.  And we sang it like- a thousand times. 

And I really can't help but smile when I sing it (as sometimes I still do), just to see if I can remember all of the lyrics.  And I can. 

And then I practice the prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in middle English, which I learned the night before they were due.  I listened carefully to the other girls in study hall and in the library as they practiced, and then pulled off my best Scotch-Irish-Swedish accent as I recited them to a window in front of Ms. H.  And I think I got a "B-."  And I was happy with that.  

Despite the stereotypes associated with a big group of "deprived" teenage girls, we were really an upstanding and (sort of) sedate bunch.  I am sure that we all at some point went out looking for trouble, but there was really no trouble to find.  Or was there?  Was everyone else out getting into trouble and leaving my nerdy and weird self out of the "fun?"


And I bet there are people out there who would like for me to bash my Alma Mater as- well, I really struggled there, or because I had a hard time "fitting in;" I simply can't.  Now, nearly 15 years later, I choose not to remember the day-to-day struggles of academia, or the cattiness, or the snobbery.  Instead, my memories are full of cookie breaks, 4 years of full-on giggling, teacher-crushes, and some of the most beautiful music I have ever created.  

And "Hello Dollies."

Some people call them "Magic Bars," as the layers of this confection "magically" fuse together, but we at Salem knew them as "Hello Dollies." 

And boy, did they make a bad day good.

And if I make any complaints, I will say that at our 10 year reunion, the batch made should have gone in the trash and tried again, as they were awful.  

AWFUL!  In caps.   

I know, there is a lot going on here, and my fancy plate causes your eye to wander, but I will lay it out for you.  

1.  Make a graham cracker crust (1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs + 1 stick melted butter), and spread it in the bottom of a 13x9 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
2.  Pour in a can of sweetened condensed milk.
3.  Sprinkle on a cup of coconut (I used a combo of sweetened shredded coconut and large-flaked fancy coconut)
4.  Now, add 2 cups of chocolate chips (I did 1/2 cup butterscotch chips and 1.5 cups chocolate chips).
5.  Chop up some pecans, and spread a cup of them on top.  
6.  You will notice that you can't see your coconut, so peek a few flakes through to the top.  Some people (gasp) don't like coconut, and others LOVE it.  Don't make it a surprise.  
7.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.  
8.  Let them cool in the pan.  Cut.  Enjoy. 

Hello Dollies: rich, decadent, and they have made groups of 190 teenage girls very happy for years.  

Missing you, girls. 

Rachel Bee


  1. Rachel thank you for bringing back that flood of memories!!! And to think I semi forgot about Hello Dollies...and now because of you I can share this little bit of heaven with my family!!! Love , Laura Burnett Dortch

  2. thank you, laura. my pleasure! wish i lived closer to you and your beautiful mama. tell her i'm singing hard:)

  3. My dahlin' Rachel, your fabulous voice and wonderful "spirit" is forever imprinted on my sould. Thank you for all the wonderful memories I have whenever I think of either. Love, Carol Burnett

  4. the SUNLIT hills sweety :)