Dorothy was not her given name. When she was born in Dale -- one of 11 children to Miller and Miley Gadsden Thompson -- she was named Dorcas. She became Dorothy by the time her formal education began.
Dorothy was married to Walter Alston and to this union five sons were born: Walter, Glenn, Edward, Carl and Sammie.
At her 100th birthday party, held recently at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, where she has been a member since she was 14, her youngest son, Sammie, shared his thoughts of his mother:
"Mom has always believed and trusted in God. She is a committed Christian who loves the Lord and loves telling others about him. This belief was the foundation on which our family was built. Mom thought it was extremely important, especially since she was responsible for raising five boys. She established rules with which you had to comply. You were expected to be obedient, attend church, apply yourself in school and do home chores. We were not allowed to swear, smoke, drink or hangout where those activities took place. There was always an extension cord or belt to be used in case our memory was short on the rules.
"A lavender placard with glittering lettering was hung on the dining room wall. We could not miss it as it was there whenever we sat to eat a meal. There were three statements on the card: 1. Say nothing that you would not like to be saying when Jesus comes; 2. Do nothing that you would not like to be doing when Jesus comes; 3. Go no place you would not like to be found when Jesus comes.
"Mom ensured we had family devotions on Sundays before sunrise. There were some disgruntled rascals (sons) present, but that did not deter Mom. She would confront you about your attitude if she disliked it. She would refer to Biblical Scripture to explain her love for us.
"Mom also believed in helping people. One Sunday morning during the winter, Mom passed by Mrs. Flora's house and did not see any smoke coming from the chimney. Mrs. Flora was an elderly lady, and neighbors always checked on her. It was football season, and I had settled in a chair to watch the game. Mom was in the kitchen thinking out loud about Mrs. Flora and whether she had enough wood to keep her warm and to cook. I realized in just moments I would be the chosen one to check on our neighbor and cut wood if necessary. Just as I thought, I was given the task and told if money was offered to say 'no thanks.' After cutting the wood, Mrs. Flora offered me 60 cents, saying God would forever bless me and I should let this be the bond between the two of us. This was a great deal for me. Mrs. Flora never told Mom and neither did I.
"Mom was a great cook. You can imagine having five sons to feed. She and Dad operated a small business, and there was always something growing. There nothing any better than knowing it was mealtime."
Below are some recipes from Dorothy Alston, provided by her sons:
3 1/2 pounds chicken pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups shortening
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Place flour in paper or plastic bag. Add chicken pieces, 1 or 2 at a time; shake to coat.
Melt shortening in large cast-iron skillet on high heat. Add chicken, skin side down a few pieces at a time; cook 15 minutes on each side or until cooked through and golden brown. Drain on paper towels, keep warm. Repeat with remaining chicken.
6 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil potatoes in skins until about half done. Drain water from potatoes; remove skins and cut in length-wise slices. Place slices in a greased baking dish and dot with margarine. Make a syrup by boiling together brown sugar, water and vanilla. Pour over potato slices. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, basting frequently with syrup. Cook until potatoes are transparent.
8 large tomatoes
1 medium-sized onion, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
Peel tomatoes, cut in quarters and put in saucepan. Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Add onion, cover, and cook 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat; remove cover and, if juicy, boil rapidly about 5 minutes. Add butter. Serve while hot.
4 cups sliced pears
1 cup water
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
Grease a casserole dish. Add pears and water which has been mixed with spices. Mix together flour, sugar and butter until crumbly. Spread over pears. Bake uncovered in a 350 degrees oven. Sprinkle with whipped cream or serve plain.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.