By: Evelyn Turner Body
“For the past couple of days I’ve been preparing for our family’s Thanksgiving dinner. My thoughts fell on my childhood when we lived at 1103 Sherrouse Ave., Monroe. Our kitchen was pretty good sized and there was a space between the cabinets and the stove where I often stood out of the way and watched my mother prepare special meals for the holidays.
I don’t remember much conversation but momma would often allow me to stir the batter and, of course, help in the clean up. I can remember one holiday season in 1965 after my brother, Preston, had enlisted in the United States Air Force, she prepared two of her special fruit cakes to mail to Preston and his fellow airmen. Momma’s fruit cakes had an extra amount of pecans as well as all the candied fruit in them. The batter was so stiff it was a chore to mix it by hand thoroughly. The pecans were harvested from my grandfather, Lincoln S. Allen’s trees in his back yard on Griffin St.
The pecan’s quality was such that the oil in them would leach out and grease up brown paper bags when shelled. When momma packaged the cooked cakes up I imagine each one weighed over 5 pounds. She mailed 2 cakes to Preston because he had told us his buddies had a history of overpowering him when he got baked food from home leaving him very little. So she made an extra one to ensure he’d enjoy what was meant for him as well as be able to share with others.
Over the years I’ve enjoyed the times spent with three of my grandchildren making sure they get a little hands on experience like I did. One of the lessons I learned while observing my Momma was that reading through the recipes first to get an idea of the process and following directions was of utmost importance if you desire a high quality product. I also came to realize many science projects and economic lessons often start in the kitchen. I thank God for having a mother who spent time demonstrating how to be creative in the kitchen even with a limited budget.”