Warm memories of childhood — and Christmas dishes — bond women in friendship

features@beaufortgazette.comDecember 17, 2013 

FOOD AMBROSIA 2 CH

Add tiny marshmallows to create a retro '50s-style Ambrosia.

GARY O'BRIEN — McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Beverly Munn Heles and I weren't seeing eye to eye.

She was a caring teacher, and I was the acting principal at St. Helena Island Elementary School. She was having a difficult time adjusting to a new leader, and I was not yet comfortable with the role.

One day, Beverly and I sat down to have a real grown-up conversation about our students. It was then we learned that we had both grown up in Columbia.

Beverly was cared for by an African-American woman named Ellen Lucas, who had relatives with the last name Wilson, my maiden name. A gentle smile came across Beverly's face when I told her I knew the family. We had attended the same church, but we were not related.

As our friendship grew, Beverly and I discovered we were more alike than different.

We both started out teaching at St. Helena Island Elementary. Beverly's father worked for South Carolina Electric and Gas Company as an electrician. My daddy worked there as a mechanic. Both of our mothers worked outside the home and retired after 30 years.

The two of us, more alike than different, shared stories of growing up in Columbia. Beverly had a nanny to take care of her, and I spent time at the home of Isaac and Annie Friday while my mother was at work. Interestingly, Friday was Beverly's mother's maiden name.

We both rode the city bus. We both went in to town to shop with our mothers. Beverly used to go to a restaurant with her mother after their shopping trip, but I did not. There were no restaurants on Main Street that served African-Americans back then. Mama used to cook before we went shopping. However, we did get hot peanuts at Silver's Five and Dime, which both Beverly and I agreed was worth the trip in to town.

Christmas was a holiday of love and laughter in both our homes growing up. We talked about decorations, how we always started with the Christmas tree. Both our mothers cooked meals that made the holiday special. I told Beverly about Mama's favorite cake and how there was always ambrosia. To this Beverly replied, "You too?"

Yes, my dear friend and I are more alike than different.

Curried Baked Fruit

Makes: 10-12 servings

1 16-ounce can pear halves

1 16-ounce can cling peaches

1 16-ounce can pineapple chunks

1 16-ounce can apricot halves

12 maraschino cherries

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3 teaspoons curry powder

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds

Drain all fruits. Add sugar and curry powder to melted butter. Arrange fruits and nuts in layers in casserole dish. Pour butter mixture over all and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight. Reheat at 350 degrees before serving.

Source: Harriet Friday Woodbury

Raw Apple Cake

2 cups sugar

1 cup shortening

2 eggs

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups raw apples

1 cup nuts

1 cup raisins

1 cup coconut

2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream sugar and shortening together; add eggs and beat until well blended. Sift flour, soda and salt together; gradually add to cream mixture. Add apples, nuts, raisins, coconut and vanilla. Mix well and pour into greased and floured cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. The older the cake, the more moist it becomes.

Source: Anna Belle Moore Wilson

Ambrosia

12-14 oranges

1 large can crushed pineapple

1 bag grated coconut

Cut oranges in half and scoop out sections as you would a grapefruit, include the juice. Layer the oranges, undrained pineapple and coconut in a medium bowl making 2-4 layes of each ingredient. Be sure to end with coconut. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Source: Beverly Munn Heles' and Ervena Faulkner's personal files

Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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