Just Folks Getting By Finale


Ben brought Uncle Amos home to supper that night, just like he always did on Thursdays.  Lucille did herself proud with fried chicken.  Jenny made mashed potatoes, English Pea Salad, and sliced fresh garden tomatoes.

“Ladies, I haven’t had a meal this good since I don’t know when.  Lucille, I been thinking about asking you to marry me, and your fried chicken just made up my mind.”  He said.

“Well, I hope it don’t break yore heart, but I already been married plenty.  I like to do things my way.  I don’t want to have to take care of nobody no more.  I don’t mind cooking you up some fried chicken once in a while, though.”  She laughed. 

“Well, that’s a relief.  I really ain’t partial to gittin’ married again either, but I sure admire your fried chicken.”  Everybody got a laugh out of that.

Jenny brought out coffee and pie, then told Ben.  “Mama and I want to talk to you about something.  Mama wants to buy Miss Dolly’s shop.  Miss Dolly needs three thousand dollars.  Mama has fifteen hundred.  I am thinking I’d like to go in with her.  You know I’ve got a little saved from before we got married.  Lucy could go to work with me.  There’s a little bed/sitting room opening right onto the shop where she could nap and play.  That way, I could work and not have to leave her.  What do you think?”

Lucille spoke before Ben had time to respond.  “Now before you worry over this too much, Ben, I want you to know.  I ain’t expecting to live with you.  I can move into the back of the shop. I want my own place.  I don’t want to be dependin’ on nobody for a place to live.  It was good of Shirley and Martin to let me fix up their garage apartment, but I don’t want to feel like I am in their way.  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Martin’s mama didn’t want to move in there.  The house was hers to start with.  I sure don’t want to cause no family trouble.  I don’t mean for Jenny to go in with me if you’d rather not. Dolly has already suggested I could pay it out by the month if I haf’ to.  She ain’t had no other offers.”

“Let’s just do the figures and see how it works out.  Jenny has her own money to use as she pleases. You know I’m not the kind of fellow to take from my wife. I like the idea of her having Lucy with her.  Jerry wants more hours, anyway.  Uncle Amos is there in the mornings.  All that kind of fits in with something I was thinking about, anyway.  Jenny’s idea of coffee and treats has really caught on.  You know the hardware store and Dolly’s Shop have an adjoining wall.  How would you feel about opening up between and I could give my customers a coupon and they could come over there for a free coffee?  They could buy their own snack.  That would help us both.”  Ben looked thoughtful.  “It might just work.  What do you think, Uncle Amos?  You are a good businessman.  Do you think it’s a good idea?”

“It sure sounds good to me.  I believe folks would always go for free coffee.  I expect they’d turn a good profit.  I believe me and you could open up the space between the two stores and not have to hire nobody to do that work.  I did all the work around my store.  I never wanted to pay for no work I could do myself.”  Amos looked enthusiastic at the thought of getting his hands dirty.

“I can’t see any reason not to do this.  I believe we’d all come out well.”  Ben admitted. “Let’s get cracking.”

“If you don’t mind me makin’ a long distance call, I guess I’d better call Shirley an’ let her know she’s gonna need a baby sitter.  I have an idea it will be a relief to her,” Lucille said.  “I’ll get the operator to call back and let me know what the charge is so I can pay you back.  I don’t usually call long distance, but I want to talk to Dolly before somebody else gits the place.”

“You go right ahead, but you are not paying us back for that call.” Ben told her.

Lucille was gone about ten minutes.  “Well, Shirley took it real good.  She told me she’s about four months along and she ain’t goin’ back to teachin’ this fall.  She’s really looking forward to finally gittin’ to stay home with a baby.  She had to go back when school started in the fall with the other three.  She did ask if I could come stay a couple of weeks when the baby comes, though.  I told her I figured you could handle things.  Turns out, it’s good I come up with somethin’ else anyway.  Old Lady Benson has been houndin’ Marty about wantin’ my apartment.  She thinks she’s still got a claim to it since they bought the house from her.  He told her I’d done put three thousand dollars in it an’ it wasn’t up to him.  She told him she’d give me four thousand if I’d give it up.  I told Marty to tell her, it’d sure hurt me but I guess I’d do it.  If she wants to keep that new stove, icebox, and curtains I put in I told him she could have them for two hundred fifty dollars more.  Sounds like a pretty good deal to git them out of a hard spot.  I don’t envy Shirley none, havin’ that old lady in her back yard, but she says she can handle it.

Six months later:

Lucille walked in Jenny’s Sweet Shop and surprised Jenny at the register.  “Mama, why in the world didn’t you tell us you were coming on the bus today?  Seems like you were gone a year instead of just three weeks.  Uncle Amos was planning to drive over and pick you Sunday!  I can’t fuss, though.  I am so glad to see you. I’d dance a jig if I could, but Lucy and this big old baby under my apron are ‘bout to wear me out. I can’t believe I’ve still got five months to go! Uncle Amos has been having to help me half a day every day.  Come on in and I’ll get us a cup of coffee.  Lucy, come see!  Grandma’s back.  Tell me all about that new baby.”

“Oh, she’s a pretty little red-headed blue-eyed thing with the curliest eyelashes you ever saw, just like you and Jimmy!  I got some real cute pictures of all the kids.  Old Lady Benson was claiming credit for them eyelashes the whole time.  You know, I always talked about the eyelashes on my babies.  Whooee!  I’m glad I don’t have to put up with that woman no more!  She tried to talk me down to a hundred and fifty dollars for that new stove and icebox I put in.  I held out for two-hundred fifty and she gave up and paid it, once she found out I had another seller lined up.  Lord, that woman is hard to please.


Link to first post in this serial

Just Folks Getting By part 19

img_2023Jenny got a letter from Shirley.

Dear Jenny,

Please don’t tell Mama I wrote you first.  Things are so stirred up here I need to think things out.  First off, I knew I was pregnant before Mama left, but didn’t want to worry her.  Having five babies in eight years is hard.  I won’t be teaching this fall.  I am going to stay home with the kids like I should have last time. I can’t ask Mama to keep three kids while I work.  They just about run me ragged and I’m a lot younger than she is.  Now that I have made up my mind to quit teaching, I look forward to this baby.  I never have gotten to stay home long.  My babies were all were born in summer and I had to go right back to teaching in the fall.  I always felt cheated about that.

This is what’s really worrying me.  You know Martin’s brother Perry is  getting married.  They were going to wait till Christmas, but Judy’s daddy died and left them a really nice house.  It’s two stories with five bedrooms, much nicer than Perry’s house. Judy’s mother still liv s there and doesn’t want to live alone, so they are going to move the wedding up to August 1 and move in with her.  They’ve asked mother Benson to go, but she wants no part of it.  She’s always been real snide Judy’s mother, anyway.  She approached us about moving back in with us.  We only have three bedrooms.  If she moves in the house, we’ll have to pack all four of the kids in one room.  That’s not right!  With me quitting my job, we can’t afford to add on. She wanted the apartment back, but Martin told her Mama had spent three-thousand dollars to fix it up.  Mama Benson said she’d give Mama four thousand if she’d let her have it.  I don’t have the heart to say anything to Mama, but I’m just worried sick.  Do you think you and Ben could ask her to move in with you? She never caused us any problems or butted into our business.  Can you talk to Ben and call me in a few days? I am sorry  to burden you with all this worry.  I’ve cried about this till I just can’t cry any more.  I never thought I’d be in this position.  I don’t know why Mama Benson can’t just get an apartment.  Please don’t  say anything to Mama till we talk.  Marty says we will figure something out.



“Why that old bat!  What does Mrs. Benson think Mama ought to do, just live in the street?”  Jenny got on the phone to Ben.  “Ben, I need to talk to you about something real mportant..  Do you have time now?”

“Is something wrong?  Do I need to come home?” Asked Ben.

“No, I’ll come down there if you have time.  I have to pick Mama up anyway.”

In a few minutes, Ben was reading Shirley’s letter.  “That’s cold-hearted of Mrs. Benson.  I’m surprised she offered Miss Lucille her money back.  We have plenty of room.  If you want, we can close in half the back porch for a bedroom and bathroom. I’ve been thinking about closing it in for a sunroom, anyway.  She can have a door opening out of her room onto the porch.  We’ll talk to her tonight.  Go ahead and tell Shirley it won’t be a problem.  She doesn’t need to be worrying.  By the way, that was a great idea about the brownies and coffee.  They didn’t last twenty minutes.  Bert Masters came in again this morning and wanted to know if I had more.  I made a pot and hurried over and bought a piece of your Mama’s pie and some muffins.  He ate every crumb of the pie and said he was going next door to see if there was any left.  She’s pretty good with a pie.”

“I think I’ll call Shirley from your office, if it’s okay.  I don’t want Mama to overhear.  Don’t let her slip up on me.”  She ducked in his office for about ten minutes.  “Thanks, Ben, I’d better check on Mama.  She may have been trying to call me.  See you tonight.”  With that, she hurried next door.

The little shop bell dinged as she entered and Dolly hurried out from the kitchen.  “Good morning, Jenny.  I hope you didn’t come to haul my help off.  I just convinced Miis Lucy to work till noon.  She’s putting a batch of of cookies in now.  Come on back to the kitchen.”

“Mama, now I see why you didn’t call.  You are elbow deep in flour.  What’s going on?”

Lucille slid four pans of cookies in the oven.  “We’ve got twelve minutes till these have to come out.  Come on Dolly, let’s all take time for a cup of coffee and talk.”  With that, she sat.  “Jenny, I told Dolly I’d help her every morning while I’m here.  Dolly needs to sell this shop.  We went over her books.  She runs it from seven till one and turns a real good profit.  I want to buy it. Do you think you’d want to partner with me?  There’s a cute little bed/sitting room in back I could move into.  You could bring the baby to work with you.  I think I could raise fifteen hundred dollars, but Dolly has to have three thousand.  What do you think? ”

“I think it sounds like a real good idea.  I know you could make a go of it.  I have a little nest egg of my own.  I think I’d like to be in business with you.  Let’s talk to Ben tonight.”  Jenny felt a load lift from her shoulders.




Just Folks Getting By Part 18

cook-bookJenny walked in the kitchen to find biscuits in the oven and two pies cooling on the counter. “My goodness, Mama.  Didn’t you go to bed last night?  How did you get this all done so early?

“My eyelids flew up like window shades about four o’clock and I was wide-awake.  I knowed there was no use just a’layin’ there, so I got up an’ started bakin’.  I hope I didn’t bother you none.  I kind’a got me an idear.  I’m a’gonna take one of these pies down to Dolly at the bake shop.  It might be she’d want to sell my pies if you could spare me a couple of hours of the mornin’.  Would you mind runnin’ me down there?”  Lucille asked. “I wouldn’t mind makin’ a couple of dollars long as I’m a’gonna be here awhile.”

“I’d be glad to, but you better not let Ben know what you’re up to.  He might not want you cookin’ around on him.”  Jenny laughed. 

“Who’s cooking around on me?” Ben demanded as he walked in.  “Are those biscuits I smell?  Can you wrap me up a couple to take with me?”

“Why sure.” Lucille replied.  I’ll have bacon in just a minute if you’ll wait.” 

“I guess it won’t hurt to be a minute late.  Uncle Amos is always way early.  He can handle anything that rolls in early.  There’s usually a couple of folks waiting at seven-thirty, but after that it’s usually quiet till about nine.  Could you wrap up a couple for Uncle Amos, too.  I know he’d like ‘em.”

“Mama, why don’t you catch a ride with Ben?  You can call when you are ready and I’ll pick you up.  That will give me time to dress and bathe the baby.”

“Yeah, I’ll just get my stuff together while you finish that bacon.” Said Ben.  “Jenny doesn’t need to keep you all to herself. You are leaving one of those pies here, aren’t you?”

“They are chocolate peanut butter.  I guess I could do that.  Jenny, could you wrap these bacon biscuits and put this pie in that carrier while I get my purse and put on a clean apron.”  Lucille washed her hands and hurried out.

Jenny looked at Ben.  “I think Mama’s up to something, don’t you?”

“Kind of looks like it, but it can’t be too bad if it includes pie.” He mused.





John’s Favorite Chocolate Pie with Optional Peanut Butter

1 cup white sugar

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk (I used canned evaporated milk for all my cooking)

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

4 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

8 tablespoons white sugar

½ cup peanut butter (optional)


Mix together sugar, cocoa, corn starch and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually mix in milk. Cook and stir over medium high heat until thickened and bubbly. Blend in peanut butter if desired.  Reduce heat to medium low; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove pan from heat. Slowly stir about one cup of the hot filling into the egg yolks, stirring constantly; mix back into the custard. Return saucepan to heat, and bring to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in vanilla. Pour hot filling into crust.

In a clean bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. (If yellow gets into whites they won’t whip) Gradually beat in sugar, and continue to beat until stiff and glossy. Spread evenly over hot filling, sealing meringue to crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden.

Just Folks Getting By Part 17

“Mama, I know you are making  a peanut butter pie for the American Legion Auction, but Ben’s Uncle Amos, just called and wanted to know if I could bring two pies!  I’ve  never baked a pie in my life!  You’ve got to help me!  Do you have a really easy, really good pie you can help me with?”  Jenny looked panicked.  “Do you still remember how to make that caramel pie you used to make?  That was my favorite.  Was it real hard?”

“Sure, I must’a made a thousand of those.  It’s real easy, just takes a while.  Do you have any Eagle Brand milk?”  Asked Lucille.  “Do you want it with pastry crust or graham crackers?”

“Graham cracker is best, but we have to go to the grocery store anyway.  What do I need for the pies?”  Jenny took out her pencil and pad.

“Let me think,” said Lucille. “You’re gonna four cans of Eagle Brand milk and a quart of whipping cream.  For the crust, you need graham crackers, butter, and sugar.”

“That’s all? Jenny was shocked.

“Oh yeah.  It’s a real simple pie.  All you do is boil the Eagle Brand Milk in the can for three hours and pour it in the crust, chill till it’s set, then top with whipped cream.

“Okay.  Do you want to ride down to the A & P with me?  We can stop by on the way and have lunch with Ben and let you see the what he’s done at hardware store.  You haven’t been down there since he did all that work down there, have you?”

“No, but are you sure you don’t want me to stay here and keep the baby?

“No, we could be a while and Lucy will need to nurse.  Besides, Ben wants you to see the store.

“Well, all right.  Let me change my dress and put on a good apron.”  When Lucille got back, she smelled of Cashmere Bouquet Dusting Powder in her crisp floral print dress with an immaculate lace-edged white apron.  Her white hair was freshly combed and held back on either side by tortoise shell combs.  The seams of her stockings were straight.  She also changed into her perfectly shined lace up black oxfords with the two-inch heels.  She held her enormous black purse on her arm.

“Mama, you look so pretty.  I always loved seeing your in your Sunday apron.”

“I just don’t feel right without my apron.  I know not too many women wear them all the time any more, but I take such comfort in my apron.  The pockets are so handy, you never get caught without a hanky.  I guess I’m ready if you are.  Do you want me to carry the baby?

“Oh no.  You don’t have to wag her around.  She’s getting so heavy.  Besides, you look so pretty I want to show you off.”

“Land’s sakes, Jenny.  Ain’t nobody said I was purty in years.”

“Well, you are, Mama.  I’ve always thought you are beautiful.  Let’s go.”

Lucille admired the neat buildings as Jenny circled the  courthouse square.  “This is such a purty town.  Oh my!  I didn’t recognize y’all’s hardware right off.  This is so nice!  Y’all must really be doin’ good.  I am so proud.”

Ben was waiting to show them around.  “Jerry, can you take care of things?  I want to show Miss Lucille what we’ve done down here.”  Ben proudly took the baby from Jenny.”

“Come here pretty girl.  We need to show Grandma what we’ve been up to.”  With that, Ben launched into a guided tour of the remodeled store.  His pride was obvious as he showed her around.  Near the back, he approached an older gentleman.  “Uncle Amos, I want you to meet Miss Lucille, Jenny’s mother.”

Lucille found herself face to face with Amos Jones, Russell’s old friend who’d given her a dollar and a ride to the bus station so many years ago.  He recognized her as well.  “Lucille, I have wondered about you so many times.  It looks like you are doing fine.”


Caramel Pie Recipe

Remove the label from two Cans of Eagle Brand Milk

Put in large pot, cover with water and keep at low boil for 3 hours.  May have to add water.  I always set timer for 1 hour so I remember to check.  After 3 hours, remove from water and allow to cool 10 minutes before opening.  If you wait longer, caramel will cool and be difficult to pour.  Use caution when you open.  Can will ooze and spill over as you open.  Pour into 10 inch Graham Cracker Crust.  Allow to set 2-3 hours and top with whipped cream.

Caution:  This recipe is neither non-fat nor low calorie.  Best to make when you have company.  You don’t want this sitting around to tempt you.


Just Folks Getting By Part 16

Lucille took her calendar out of her pocketbook to see if she needed to get her light bill and burial insurance premiums off in the mail.  “Well, I say, Jenny.  The twenty-ninth will be your daddy’s birthday.  He’d a been seventy-four if he’d a lived!  I guess that’s the good thing about dying young.  You don’t never git old.  In my mind, he’s still twenty-one and here I am sixty-eight.  He wouldn’t have no use for an old granny my age.  That just made me remember a dream I had a dream about me and your daddy last night.  I was the way I am now, gray hair, sore knees, and hobblin’ around my arthritis is acting up.  Any, I was somewhere that kind’a looked like a park, just a wooded area with a grassy patch and a rail fence along side a row of pine trees. The wind was a’blowin’ the pines like they was singing. The grass was just as green as it could be……looked so soft and cool, it seemed like it would a’felt good to rolled in it.  There was a rocky stream between me and your daddy.  He was a’sittin’ up on the top rail of that high fence, just as unconcerned as he could be, just the way he’d a’done when he was a young man.  He saw me and was just a’wavin’ at me to come on over, a’smiling like I was the purtiest thing he ever seen….like I was a young woman.

I knew I had to git over to him, but the path down to that stream was sloped and kind’a rocky, a challenge if you’re not nimble as a goat.   I started over his way, and didn’t have no trouble at all, though I was trying not to slip.   Once I waded that stream, I just run like a girl and jumped up on that fence with him, without thinkin’ twice.  I looked down and saw I was just as young and spry as though no time had passed since I first seen him.  We was just tickled to death to be together, again.  I don’t feel a bit worried about dyin’ now.  I don’t want to leave you girls, but I know we’ll all be together again.  I’m glad I had that dream.  It sure makes me look forward to seeing your daddy, again.”

Jenny spoke to her mother pensively.  “Mama, that was a wonderful dream, but I don’t want to think of ever losin’ you.  I don’t know how I’d go on.  I depend on you for so much.  Do you think that was a sign?”

Lucille took Jenny’s soft hand in her weathered one.  “Jenny, I don’t believe the Lord is through with me yet, but if I do go, I’ll be ready.  Sometimes, I think we git a little visit from our loved ones who’ve passed on, ’cause they probably miss us, too.  I am glad I have that little visit with your daddy.  It helped relieve my worries.


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Just Folks Getting By Part 15

The mail ran just as Lucille finished up the dishes.  “Mama, you got a letter from Shirley.”

Lucille dried her hands on her apron, poured a cup of coffee and sat down to read it.   “Here Jenny, sit with me.”

Dear Mama and Jenny.

Thanks so much for the baby’s christening picture.  She looks like an angel.  Jenny, you are sure getting your figure back.  I’m still carrying ten pounds from when I had Marty.  I hate that.  Seems like it gets harder after it every baby.  Martin’s brother Perry is talking about getting married again.  You remember his wife left him and Judy for the doctor she was working with and they moved off to Henderson.  Well, he’s been going with a widowed schoolteacher with a little boy and they’re talking about getting married at Christmas.  Mama Benson’s been living with Perry and Judy ever since Fran left.  You remember she said she was tired of keeping up this big, old house, just for herself, so we bought it. I don’t know where she’ll live after Perry marries.  It’s our house now.  You live in the garage apartment, and I’m not about to put you out.  She’s not an easy woman to live with.

The kids sure are enjoying their summer, but not as much as I am.  I wish I didn’t ever have to go back.  Kids don’t know teachers are as happy about summer as they are.  P I’ve got plenty here to keep me busy.  The oldest two are taking swimming lessons.  Better close and get this in the mail.

Love, Shirley

“Oh, Jenny!  What if Mrs. Benson decides she wants to move in with them?  It was her house to start with. I should have never put my three thousand dollars in fixing that nice apartment in the garage.  That’s ’bout all I had left.  I can’t afford to buy a house or pay rent.  I am sixty-eight years old, way too old to be trying to go back to work.  If Martin feels like he has to move his mama in there, I won’t have no place to go.”  Lucille felt like she’d hit bottom.

“Now Mama, don’t go borrowing trouble.  Nobody’s said a word about Mrs. Benson moving in with Shirley.  You don’t even know for sure she won’t stay on with Perry after he marries.  Martin and Shirley bought her house.  She has no claim on it.  Whatever happens, none of your kids will let you do without.  You know that.”

“I do know that, Jenny, but I thought I was settled and don’t want to move again.  I’m gittin’ to old to worry like this.  Sometimes, I just wish I could go on and be with Russ. I think I’ll go lay down awhile.  I’ll do them dishes later.”  Lucille trudged back to her bedroom.


Just Folks Getting By Part 14

“Oh Mama, this apple pie is so good.  I never will get this baby weight off if you don’t quit baking pies like this.  I just can’t say no.”  Jenny pushed her plate back.  “I am going to save some out for Ben and freeze the rest if you don’t mind.  It will be wonderful to pull it out for a treat one day.”

“That is a good idea, Jenny, but your weight is coming off real good.  I been here two weeks and I can tell a big difference since then.  Breast-feeding really helps.  After my babies was born, I breastfed as long as I could ’cause some folks said it helped keep from gittin’ another baby too quick.  Didn’t seem like it helped too much, but I guess it might a’helped some.  I got thataway as soon as your daddy got home and had three babies two years apart.  I never had no trouble keepin’ my weight down, workin’ in the cafe and chasin’ young’uns.  You was a big help, though.  I don’t know how I’d a’got by without you.  I kind a’hate to tell you, now, but I was gonna bake two peanut butter pies today.  I promised one to the American Legion Bake Sale, but I guess I can send ’em both if you think I ought to.”

“Ooh, don’t you dare!  Ben would have a fit if he knew I let you send off his peanut butter pie.  I’ll just make myself stay out of it!  I lost two pounds this week and I don’t want to put it back on.  How did you learn to bake such great pies?  Seemed like everybody that came in our cafe was crazy for your pies.”  Jenny took one final bite of her pie, then put her fork down.

“Bessie Sears got me started making pies when I was a dishwasher at the Peabody Cafe.  She ran that boarding house and I went down to help her make pies ever’ mornin’ between the breakfast and lunch shifts.  It got to where she got more orders than she could handle, so she passed ’em on to me.  Mr. Peabody let me bake in the cafe kitchen, long as I furnished him first.  ‘Course, I bought my own supplies. Mr. Peabody gave me fifty cents a pie and sold it for fifteen cents a slice, so we both made money.  I charged ever’body else seventy cents a pie and couldn’t keep up.  Sometimes I sold as much as much as fifty pies a week.  That’s how I was able to save up enough for us to get a restaurant when your daddy come home.  I was right proud.”  Lucille smiled proudly.

“I liked living over that cafe when y’all first opened it.  I didn’t want to move.  It always smelled like apple pie when I was going to sleep at night.”  Jenny grinned.

“Yeah, I always ran up to tuck you in bed right after I put the pies on to bake at night.  Then me and your daddy would clean up and do the books while they baked.  It worked out good we could live over the cafe…..and  the price was sure right, fifteen dollars a month for that buildin’.   It was nice and warm in winter, but hot as blazes iin summer.”

Southern Peanut Butter Pie

2/3 cup white sugar1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup dark corn syrup 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter 3 eggs 1 cup salted peanuts 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Combine all ingredients Pour filling into pie crust.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Center may be soft but will firm up as it cools

Flaky Vinegar Pie Crust
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter, cold and cut into several large pieces (may substitute shortening)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vinegar
6-10 tbsp ice water

Vinegar makes this crust flaky and sugar helps it brown.  You won’t taste vinegar.

Mix flour, fat, salt, and sugar with pastry cutter or blender till it is grainy and well-mixed.  Mix in vinegar and ice water until it makes stiff mix that can be pressed into a ball.  Wrap and chill 1-2 hours.  Roll out on floured surface and transfer to pan.  Makes one double crust or two nine inch crusts.  I make half a dozen up ahead of time and freeze dough.  Must thaw an hour or so before rolling out.



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Just Folks Getting Part 13

Jenny so loved the talks she and Lucille shared.  When Lucille started a story, she got a faraway look in her eyes, paused to think, then the enchantment began.  Today was no different.

Lucille put her crochet down and said.  “They was a doctor in with your daddy.  Did I ever tell you about that? He said folks didn’t talk much about themselves, but didn’t mind talkin’ about other folks.  Some things don’t change.”

“No. What in the world was he in for?”  Jenny was all ears.

“He cut his wife’s throat then kilt the rest of the family.”

“A doctor?”  Jenny couldn’t take it in that a doctor could commit such a heinous crime.  “What in the world would make a doctor do such a thing?”

“Honey, doctors is just folks like the rest of us, some good, some bad.  This doctor fell on hard times, just like ever’body else back then.  Nobody had no money to pay him, then after a while, nobody had nothin’ to offer in trade.  He’d always been known as a hard man for a’beatin’ his wife and such.  That was a family matter.  He lost his place and started toward California on Route 66 like so many others, thinkin’ things would have to be better out there.  Anyhow, he got to sellin’ his wife to other men along the way.  People just camped along the side of the road under trees close to water wherever they could, so they saw a lot of the same folks day after day.  Early one mornin’ the doctor hitched a ride with a family movin’ out early, sayin’ he had to get to the next town to git a part for his old car.  Nobody thought nothin’ ’bout that.  Folks was always a’hitchin’ rides.  Late that afternoon when folks was a’settin’ up camp in the grove of trees along by the crick, they noticed flies a’buzzin’ around a tent.  A feller went to check and found a pregnant woman and two little bitty kids with their throats cut.  It turned out, the doctor didn’t want his wife havin’ that baby, not knowin’ if it was his and wanted to git rid of it.  She fought him on it, and he ended up a’cuttin’ her throat.  He kilt them them kids to cover it up.  They called the sheriff and he was picked up down at the rail yard train’ to catch a ride on a train.  It’s just hard to believe a feller could be so cold.  Most men would fight to the last to save their family.  Anyhow, he was still on death row when your daddy got out.”  Lucille sighed at the end of her tale.  “There must be a special place in Hell for folks like that!”

“That’s horrible.  Did y’all ever hear any more about him.”  Jenny was all ears.

“No.  Never heard no more once your daddy got home. He Disn’t seem like the kind of feller you’d want to keep up with.”  They both got a good chuckle out of that.




Just Folks Getting By Part 12

img_1998Jenny brought the mail in just as Lucille finished the dishes.  ” Mama, you got a letter from Miss Bessie!”

“Thank you, Jesus!  I been so worried ’bout Bessie. You remember her.  We used to spend the day with her sometimes on your day out.  She had that little red-headed girl, Peggy.  She wrote me she was havin’ gall bladder surgery, and I ain’t heard from her in over a month.”  Lucille dried her hands and sat down to read her letter.

Jenny settled with the baby to hear her mother’s letter.  “I sure do remember going there.  I loved playing with Peggy.  She had that rag doll her mama made.  She always let me play with it.  How is Miss Bessie?”

“Well, let’s read this letter and see.”

Dear Lucille, I hope this letter finds you well.  I had my surgery and it’s starting to look like I might live, but if you ever have a choice between having gall bladder surgery and jumping in front of a train, pick the train.  You know I ain’t one to complain, but that surgery like to killed me.  The doctor cut me in half one day and then that big old nurse come in swishing in the next morning telling me I had to get up and walk.  I was hurting so bad I couldn’t even get a good breath and she was on me about walking.  She got me up, but I thought it would kill me, for sure.  Then before I could even get my false teeth in and comb my hair, the doctor come in wanting to know if I was passing gas! I was never so embarrassed in my life!   Now that’s just something it ain’t decent to talk to a man about.  Every day after that he come busting in wanting to know if my bowels was moving.  I never heard of such a thing!

Sally, my boy Reggie’s wife, come to stay for a couple of weeks when I went home.  She done the best she could, but I sure wished Peggy could have come.  She’s big pregnant and has a two year old and her doctor wouldn’t let her go off.  He probably wanted to keep her handy to ask her about her bowels! Ha!  Sally done real good except she didn’t put enough salt in nothing.  She does make fine pies, though.  She fixed lunch for me and Martha. You remember my sister don’t you?   Sally sure made some good chicken salad with walnuts and raisins, but I did notice she was using my fine tea towels to dry dishes.  I didn’t say nothing, but I made sure to gather them up when she went to the bathroom, putting some drying towels out.  I know she didn’t mean no harm, but my mama embroidered them towels and I want to keep them nice.    Well, I better close and get this in the mailbox.  I know you and Jenny are having a good visit.  Kiss that baby for me.  I tucked in a little keepsake christening cap I made for the baby.  She can use it later for a bride’s hanky. All my love, Bessie.

“Well, ain’t that something!”  She passed the tissue wrapped cap to Jenny.

“This is the sweetest little cap.  I will have to be sure to keep it nice for Lucy.  She’ll be proud of this one day.  I fell kind of embarrassed now, I almost laughed out loud at her about not complaining.” Jenny confessed.

“Honey, don’t you worry none about that.  Bessie’s a good friend, but she does complain, but lots of times, she’s real funny when she does it.   She also made a precious gift.  Recognizing the truth don’t hurt nothing.  I better get a little note off to her.”  Jenny took her hand as she started to get up.

“Mama, let me write a note first, then you can add yours to it.  I need to thank her for this sweet gift and the times I spent at her house.”  Jenny folded the tiny cap back in tissue.

“That would be good, Jenny.  She is a friend to us both.”


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