Rascally Rabbit

Week 5: #52 Ancestors – In The Kitchen

By Eilene Lyon

Aunt Betty (Lyon) Dremann took the time to write her memoirs before she passed. I wish everyone would do that! However, she only wrote to the point where her sons were of the age to begin forming their own memories, as if her own recollections after that were not of value. That is a shame.

Park, Avis, and Betty Lyon, about 1918.

Avis Elizabeth “Betty” Lyon was born March 9, 1917 in the farmhouse belonging to her paternal grandparents near La Moille, Illinois. Her parents were Clifford Park and Avis (Chambers) Lyon. She had one sibling, Clifford Park Lyon, Jr. (I find it interesting that both children were named after their parents.)

The Lyon children grew up in Los Angeles, where Park had a job working for Bank of America. That job went away a couple years into the Great Depression and he had no luck finding another. Eventually the family returned to Illinois and farming. An important family member on the farm was their German shepherd, Duke.

Betty says her mother was a wonderful cook. She wondered if Paul “Peck” Dremann was courting her in order to get good meals. Avis liked to cook waffle suppers for Betty and her friends, too. The farm included livestock and vegetables to help feed the family during the depression, but Cliff and his friend, Bud Rapp, helped put meat on the table, too.

The Putterer caught this rabbit around 1955. His mother served it for dinner. He prefers that I not share the tale about killing the bunny.

In the winter of 1935, according to Betty, “The two boys took long sticks and poked them into the culverts along the road. If they scared out a rabbit, Duke, who thought this a great sport, caught the rabbit. The boys took the rabbit away from the dog and brought it home, and Dad skinned and dressed it when he came home. Mother cooked the rabbits, and she made them taste delicious. If there were extras, they were hung from the porch ceiling outside, where they quickly froze for use another day.”

Betty and Peck were married on June 3, 1936. Apparently Betty’s early efforts in the kitchen weren’t quite up to snuff. One very hot summer, when their upstairs apartment in Princeton got too hot, Betty would visit her folks on the farm. She’d help with gardening and canning the vegetables.

Peck and Betty Dremann’s wedding in June 1936.

“I always took something for my beloved dog, Duke. Once I took him some left-over waffles, and he took them outside and buried them—only one of the many cooking failures in my life.”

I expect Betty learned to cook pretty well. I wonder if she ever made rabbit for her family? It’s not something I’ve ever tried. Have you?

Paul “Peck” Dremann in 1982. It’s nice that Betty’s husband helped out with some of the cooking.

Feature image: Avis Elizabeth “Betty” (Lyon) Dremann in 1985.

37 thoughts on “Rascally Rabbit

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  1. Nope, never had rabbit.

    My paternal grandparents Eva and John named their children Eva and John. I always thought that was really weird and also totally inconsistent with Jewish naming traditions. I guess they were just looking for immortality? Or very egocentric.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It really does seem an odd way to name your children, especially when there are just two. In other traditional naming patterns, the son named for the father was usually a younger son, not the first born. Older sons would be named for their grandfathers.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Clabe Wilson and sons harvested rabbits and squirrels during the Great Depression, dressed them and the ones not cooked and eaten right away were hung on the porch to freeze. (A ‘possum and a ‘coon made it into their story, as well.) Waffles: Our adopted dog would bury them! It was funny to watch because he’d get dust on his nose.

    Memoirs: Leora’s early memoirs have so many details. I was surprised that there are only half a dozen pages of those Depression years, and she just sketched the WWII years, probably because they were just too painful to write about. My mother could only get so far with her memoirs and couldn’t get into the hardest ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I suspect it really was more of something that people ate only during hard times like the depression. As Liz points out, it would tend to be tough and gamey, as I suspected. Maybe Avis Lyon had a special trick for making it taste better. Soaking in milk, perhaps?

      As for writing memoir, I think it depends on the person. Some find the hard times the most interesting to reflect on, while others consider it too painful.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am pretty sure my dog wouldn’t care for waffles. He doesn’t like French fries or potato chips, either. I used to have a dog that would eat just about anything, including leftover nachos with lots of jalapenos!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We made what you would probably call a stew, we called it fricassee. Which in English means to (cook until tender, for hours but, today only one hour in a pressure cooker) Which is cooked a very long time until it gets tender with all of the things a good stew has (more or less~!). We fried rabbits that we raised, Not wild~! fried like you would chicken and it is very good and tender. Sorry if that bothers you but during the depression, rabbits multiplied much faster than chickens and when only a few months old were very tender. Dammit we had to eat~!!

    Read here:


    1. I’m not bothered that people would eat rabbits at all. I just figured they would be rather tough (wild ones would be, but ones kept caged not so much). When I was a kid, I had a rabbit fur muff and a rabbit’s foot on a little keychain. Even a little stuffed kitten made with rabbit fur. I don’t think we see stuff like that so much anymore.


  4. “One very hot summer, when their upstairs apartment in Princeton got too hot, Betty would visit her folks on the farm. She’d help with gardening and canning the vegetables.”

    When I was a girl, mother enlisted me to help with the canning. Of course, produce is ready at the height of summer. Nothing much is worse than a hot steaming kitchen on a muggy summer day. I sure hope for Betty’s sake that the kitchen on the farm was cooler than her loft apartment!

    As for rabbit? Mom once prepared Hasenpfeffer. I can’t remember the experience as anything unpleasant – though I was aware of the irony that we ate rabbit for Easter dinner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for pointing that out about the hot kitchen. Maybe they set up something outdoors. I just reported it as she wrote it.😉

      As another person pointed out, domestically raised rabbit is probably much tastier than wild. That you would eat it for Easter is surprising.

      Once, when I was at the San Diego Zoo, they were feeding a large, dead white rabbit to a python. There was a big crowd watching. Up front a little boy was wailing, “They killed Bugs Bunny!!!”😫

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve never tasted rabbit, but my husband’s aunt, who grew up on a farm during the early 20th century, cooked rabbit for him when he was a child. He liked it! Currently we have 4-5 large, healthy rabbits living in our backyard and munching on our hosta plants. They seem to have almost no predators these days. Anyone who wants to try to catch them is welcome to stop by!


  6. I laughed at the dog burying the waffles – you can’t please everyone I guess and my cooking could very well have a dog turning up its nose and hightailing it to the backyard to bury it as well. I’ve never tasted rabbit and I could not get past the idea of a fuzzy bunny becoming a meal. I once traveled to Sweden in a tour group and our dinner (on a set menu) featured reindeer patties. No women in the group, including me, could eat the patties as they thought of Rudoph.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s too funny about the reindeer! It wouldn’t bother me. Eating rabbit wouldn’t either, except that I just didn’t think it would be particularly palatable. I like stuff that tastes good and isn’t hard to chew. Now, about those waffles, maybe Duke just wanted to stash them for later. You never know!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m such a bleeding heart … there were no substitutions off the menu and so all the men in the tour group got a little extra protein and donated their ice cream with lingonberry sauce to their wives. Many years ago we got a new neighbor who moved up here from Kentucky and he had some sort of gun with a silencer and was taking down the squirrel population in the ‘hood as he liked squirrel pie. I was aghast to hear this story, even though they dug up my flowers to bury their acorns. We had two oak trees in the yard at the time. Rabbit might be rubbery … I can’t get past the furry face and wiggly pink ears. Perhaps Duke worried he might starve – always be prepared.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m a bit that way. I exert every effort to avoid killing any living thing – even beetles and tarantulas crossing the road! But I do eat meat, so my conscience can never be clear on that account. I am just as guilty as if I killed the cows, pigs, chickens and fish myself. It does bother me – and it doesn’t, too. The conflict will not be resolved, I suspect.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, thinking of cute animals makes it more difficult to do them in. Though adult reindeer are not very cute. My mom used to say her grandfather would ask the grandkids to pick out a chicken for Sunday dinner and she was squeamish about that. I would be too.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. I haven’t eaten rabbit, though John has – but then, I have been a vegetarian for about 38 years now. Everyone has conflicts (been reading the other comments). I can’t see why people feel differently about eating rabbits and, say, pigs. My conflict is that I still it eggs and dairy which, if my ethics were consistent, I shouldn’t do.

    Interesting about the memoir. I’m glad mum wrote hers before her memory started to fail. She wrote a lot about her own childhood and ours and then, like Betty’s, it slowed down, though didn’t peter out completely. She felt those were the times of her life with most change and development, so more interesting to write about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, eating one type of animal vs another isn’t an issue for me. In fact, I almost find it more sporting to eat wild caught ones. But I’m not so much a fan of the flavor of venison and other game. I figure if an animal is going to give it’s life for mine, I don’t want it to go to waste. Part of me wants to go vegetarian, and I probably should for health reasons any way. Then I’d have to prepare separate dinners for each of us, and I feel too lazy!


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