I remember one sunny summer afternoon in 1960 something, I was looking for something to do when I came across a strange piece of equipment I soon figured out was a French fry cutter. You put a potato in one end and push down real bad and it pushes the potato through tiny little knives and out came potato strips. With a little more looking my sister and I found an electric fryer. So you can imagine how excited we were to be making our own French fries!! In fact we were so proud of ourselves we told the whole neighborhood. Day after day we fried up batches of those potatoes and the back door to that kitchen on Dunkle Road became a revolving door. The Porters, Diehls, Fredricks and Wardells just to mention a few didn’t have to wait for Pumpkin Show that year to enjoy delicious hot fries!! Mother said that was the summer she couldn’t keep potatoes or ketchup in the house. 🥔🥔
I love dishes and I think it runs in families!! My mother and sisters and daughter and daughter-in-law all love them!! I have special occasion dishes, birthday dishes, Christmas dishes and fall and winter ones. Some dishes come with flowers and others with stripes. Of course solid dishes of all colors. But the most dearing of all are the ones passed down from my mother and grandmothers. It would be easy to put them away in a safe place and not use them but what purpose would that accomplish? My mother always said no one was more important than her family, so I took her advice and I use them. When I do, I like to share a story or a recipe from the person who owned the dishes before me. Someday, I hope, my children and then their children will do the same.
I grew up in a household that loved hot tea. My maternal grandmother, Dessa Marie Tracy, enjoyed the English side of her heritage and served hot tea with sugar and cream in her prettiest tea cups every day around 3:00. Even my sister and I were allowed to drink from those cups. Coffee mugs or metal or plastic cups would never do. Grandma knew the tea would not taste the same. And you need the saucer to hold your spoon after stirring all that sugar we would add. My younger siblings continued to enjoy this treat after school with a slice of fresh homemade bread. She must have prepared early in her day to have that bread ready to come out of the oven at just the same time the school bus arrived at our door.
These are English tea cakes that are perfectly paired with a cup of hot tea.
Grandma Dessa’s favorite Bible verse:
When I was going to Asbury College, now known as Asbury University, located about twenty minutes south of Lexington, Kentucky, I had the pleasure of meeting two of the sweetest girls I think I’d ever met. They were sisters and “very” southern. They had that heavy southern drawl and loved their sweet tea! Bobbie Brooks and Evan Picone clothes were in fashion and they wore a lot of them. Everyone thought they for sure came from money since these styles were on the expensive side, especially the Evan Picone. As time went by I had the opportunity of meeting their mother. What a charming southern woman she was. After one meeting with her you knew how her daughters possessed the delightful gentle southern charm they had. Her voice was soft and her stature short, but she was far more than the country chicken farm she lived on. Remember the elite clothes her daughters, Barbara Brooks Johnson and Evelyn Brooks Barnard wore? Well, Mrs. Irene Brooks would make them herself. She studied what was in style and then came up with almost an identical copy. I learned from her to add a touch of class when setting the table. Using silver and lace with your ordinary flat wear was okay. The important thing was to use your good things and enjoy them. She catered weddings and made delicious cakes and punch. She was the first person I ever saw put real fruit in ice rings and use them in her punch bowls. Her rosebud mints are now known world wide since both her daughters married men that served in the military, and they shared her recipe everywhere they lived. It’s now been passed down to their children. She was always willing to teach anyone who wanted to learn how to makes these delicate sweet treats that have adorned many wedding tables, including my daughter’s and step-granddaughter’s.
I had to add Mrs. Brooks pound cake. I can’t ever remember going to her house or her daughters when she lived with them that I didn’t have a piece or two of her delicious cake with my coffee in the mornings. But it’s not just for mornings! I’ve had it for a snack and for an evening dessert with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Her family likes it with chocolate icing, but as for me, just give me a fork and I’ll eat it plain.
I never knew my great grandfather, Daniel Thomas Eye, very well, but I remember he was a gentle, kind man that enjoyed making baskets. He had a small one room cabin down by the creek where he could put the little oak trees he gathered while walking in the woods and allow the constant water to run over them to make them soft enough to work with. As a kid I loved seeing all his baskets and the cabin even had a bed and coffee pot for him to use whenever he wanted. Now he had a room in his daughter’s house that was just up the hill but when he got busy he could always sleep in his cabin if he wanted to. As a child his cabin looked like a big doll house to me and my sister. We loved being down there and the creek provided hours of fun too. The water was cool and a perfect place to be on hot summer days. When growing up we got to spend a lot of time in West Virginia with our relatives on our mom’s side. They all seemed to be so good at what they set out to do. Whether it be baking or canning or farming or in this case basket weaving, they would take pride in their work and soon became professionals at it. Since my mother, Anna Lee Tracy Brevard, was Pap Eye’s first grandchild and I was his first great granddaughter, he made me the smallest basket he ever made. I’ve kept it with joy and then my daughter, Heather Atkinson, used it in her wedding to hold the rose pedals her little flower girl sprinkled as she walked down the aisle. So down through the generations we are still using these beautiful baskets made with perfection.
Note: Steve Spicer from Circleville, Ohio has made these baskets for years and won many art contests for his expert craftmenship.