March is here, and usually the March winds make us hang on with both hands to keep from being blown away. What can you do when those March winds start to howl? Why eat and play cards, of course.
And speaking of eating how about a piece of fried golden brown Turner Country Ham, macaroni and cheese, brown beans, sauerkraut, sometimes Cole slaw, homemade cake, iced tea and coffee. Now if that menu sounds familiar then you have either helped or attended a Fulks Run Ruritan Club fried ham supper. Now keep in mind this was 40 plus years ago.
At one time the Ruritans held a Ham and Oyster Supper, but sometime in the 70’s the oysters became so expensive they would have had to raise the meal price so much, not many people could afford to come. And we were serving right at 220 people at those ham and oyster suppers.
Now the great debate started…old school against them young know it all’s.
Young Know It All, “Well, let’s try it, a Fried Ham only supper. All you can eat.”
Old Schooler, “WHAT?! all you can eat?! You’re Crazy! You’ll never get a good turn out without oysters!” When the smoke cleared the young know it all’s won out.
So, there you have it, the first Turner Fried Ham Supper, six dollars per person, all you can eat. We served over 400 people plus carry outs with that meal, and the rest is history.
And when the Ruritans purchased the new park, we had to come up with a way to pay for it. So, six suppers a year, Ham in September, January, and March. Pot Pie in October, February, and April. We didn’t want to pay interest any longer than we had to.
Now that doesn’t sound like a lot unless you are the person that is doing the work! What does a ham supper involve?
First set the date, then start to advertise, boy, this is easy.
Then determine about how many people to prepare for, keeping in mind, snow, sleet, even rain, can be a factor in winter. One year in September we were watching the track of a hurricane.
Now it’s starting to get a little harder. If my memory serves me correctly, we started with approximately 20-22 hams, sliced them so that we only used the center cuts. Toward the end we were using 24-26 whole hams. The butts and pieces would be used for the pot pie supper, but we will talk about that supper in April.
Back to the story, it wasn’t long until we were serving over 800 people with carry outs included, even when the cost was now eight dollars a plate. We would set out chairs that started around the walls down the hall and back and over to the exit door. Then the line started at the front door down past the flag pole. The small cafeteria only seated 108 people, and after eating all you could eat the people would sit and talk for a long time. I guess it’s because they couldn’t get up or move.
Our preparations grew to 80 pounds of brown beans, 60 pounds of macaroni for the macaroni and cheese, and 12 gallons of sauerkraut. I think one year they made over 30 gallons of iced tea. The operation began on Friday night. We would sort thru the beans picking out stones and then washing them and putting them in to soak. Making tea, slicing onions doing whatever we could to get an early start on Saturday Morning. We started about seven in the morning on Saturday, with the cooking of macaroni, then to the brown beans.
The frying of the ham started and once fried, it was placed in warmers. Before the new park with those facilities, people brought in their portable skillets and in every nook and corner everyone was frying ham. Some people had to wait almost an hour to eat, but they didn’t mind for they were enjoying themselves just talking to people they hadn’t seen in years.
Now when they added the new gym, we decided to move the eating area to the new gym. One big problem, not enough tables. And we now want to thank the Mt. Carmel United Brethren Church for allowing us to borrow their tables. Although this didn’t come off without some problems. One night on the way back to the church with those tables some slid off the back of the truck at the school, and then when they when up the hill to the church the rest slid off the truck. They didn’t even know it, until they arrived at the church and went to unload the tables, and there was none left to unload. The one fellow said “ I think the tables slid off” “No kidding, the other the man said, I told you to tie them down, they wouldn’t stay on there. (this was edited to keep the column rated G) Back down the road they went finding some on the hill at the church, the one said I believe it was more than that, and on down the road to the school they went finding those at the entrance. But one table wasn’t found till Sunday morning.
Then after the eating was done the clean-up work began till about eight thirty that evening.
Now you get an idea why they don’t have suppers anymore. Most of the younger generation would think you were crazy for doing all that work and then giving all profits back to needy people and the community. Maybe we were crazy, but there is one thing I leaned some years ago. If it makes you feel good and feels right in your heart, then it’s the right thing to do.
Believe it or not
Until next time