April is here, temperatures in the 70’s, and the birds are singing. April 18th is tax deadline and only 251 days till Christmas. It’ll be here before you know it.
Now to the meat and potatoes of the Follies and speaking of meat and potatoes, last month we were talking about eating. delicious fried ham, remember I told you the Ruritans would slice approx. 24-26 hams for those meals and use only center cut pieces. What would you do with the rest of the ham? Well, make delicious Country Ham Pot Pie.
The ad stated Eat All You Can Eat-Pay All That You Can. And eat they did! I know this sounds like a lie, but on those suppers, we would prepare as close as we could count to 300 gallons of Pot Pie! Yes…1200 quarts!
Unlike the ham suppers, the preparations for this meal started on Thursday before the Saturday of the meal. All those butt-end pieces and trimmings needed to be cooked until the meat fell off the bone. This was an all-day event, but at days end there was approximately 40 gallons of the richest ham broth you could imagine.
Then Friday evening wrapping silverware, making tea, slicing onions, ( which I want to give our departed friend Dean Baker recognition…He would sit and peel and slice 50 LBS. of onions till the tears ran down his cheeks as if he had lost a close friend, but he was always rewarded with a Homemade German Chocolate Cake made by Polly Custer.), setting up tables and any other task we could perform to get a good start on Saturday morning.
And yes, Saturday morning it was 6:00 AM. A person representing the Fulks Run Elementary School Kitchen staff would open the door at 6:00 am and the work began. Making and rolling out the dough from the flour (about 325 lbs. of flour…another thank you is to Richard Brady. I would say in his lifetime he rolled out over one ton of flour for pot pie.) Putting the twelve 10-quart pots of water on the stove to start boiling. As a pot started to boil, we would “TEAR” the dough and throw it in the pot. When the pot stopped boiling you had to stop throwing the dough in, or it would stick, so you would go to another pot that was boiling. As you stirred the pots and it “felt right” you would then move them to the finish area where the thick broth and ham pieces were added. That pot would be dumped into a six-gallon steel container, the pot then washed and ready for next round. This would happen 120 times in the course of the day.
The menu: Turner Country Ham Pot Pie, Salad, Sauerkraut, Butter Bread and Onions, Coffee, Tea and Homemade cake made by the Ruritans’ wives. All you can eat! I remember on one occasion one of the servers that would fill up the bowls and return them to the tables, came in to the kitchen, and told me “Call the rescue squad.”
I asked, “What’s wrong?”
He said, “This bowl I’m holding is the sixth bowl I’ve taken to this one table, and I want the squad to be on standby for when this particular lady BUSTED”, cause he just knew she could not hold much more!
I hope everyone reading has some inkling of an idea of how much work went into this meal. And what would cause a group of Ruritans to go to all this trouble? Well here is the rest of the story. It was somewhere in the late early 70’s that the club wanted to help the local rescue squads and fire departments. So they arrived at this plan, the members would donate all the food, paid for from their own pockets. Therefore, there would be no expense for the food. They would then work as described and donate “ALL PROCEEDS” to be divided evenly and donated to the Timberville, Broadway, and once it was established to the Bergton Emergency Response agencies. All proceeds meant when someone ate and put a $10 dollar bill in the bucket all $10 dollars went to the agencies. Now pause and think of that! Paid for the food, worked three days to help others. People like those Ruritans are disappearing like the snow in spring. Those that did this, some are gone, most others, age taken it’s toll so that they can’t do it anymore. So for those that still remember “Eat All You Can, Pay All You Can” and wonder why they don’t have Pot Pie Suppers any more, this may help you understand.
Now one more thing, a lady came to me last summer with a story. She started out by telling me “I want to tell you a story, but don’t put it in the paper. The story goes something like this…. Her daddy was born in 1908, and this event happened approximately in. 1925. He was hunting for coon in the Lairs Run area in Fulks Run. As they started up the creek the dogs started cold trailing and left the streamside and started up the ridge. After about a mile they jumped whatever it was they were trailing. A powerful chase incurred, and up the mountain they went as fast as they could go. Then right under the top of the mountain, they arrived at the tree where the dogs were.
They had treed in big pine, and they could not see a thing. So back down the mountain one person went to retrieve an ax to cut down that tree. The dogs were viscously barking at the tree, circling as they barked. Finally, the man returned with an ax, and they took turns chopping at the tree. Both men were exhausted, but finally the tree started to fall. With an indescribable sound the tree crashed to the ground, and out of the tree the creature came. As they held their lanterns high, they could not believe their eyes, for the biggest Spotted Sucker (some call it Hog Sucker) they ever seen in their lives took off down thru the woods.
They immediately caught the dogs, for both man and dogs were too worn out to continue the chase.
After such an experience they never returned to that area to hunt again. Now it is absolutely true that this story was told to his daughter, and you could see why I had to put this story in print and had a special month to tell it. Well, that is all for now, and I hope everyone enjoyed April 1st, April Fools Day.
Believe it or not
Until Next Time