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