“We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.” ~ Thomas Moore
There’s hardly anything that screams small-town America more than a church dinner. The little church my maternal grandmother Hannah Adams helped found is still cooking dinners 70+ years after its founding. Above washing dishes, Zula Johnson cooked many a meal and washed many a dish next to my grandmother back when this kitchen had nothing more than a fan for comfort. I vividly remember the bustling excitement of the women sweating over a stove of steaming potatoes and fried chicken. They used to cook Friday lunches, and people from all over the county would come to fill their plates for $3. There were never leftovers, and by 3 o’clock, the women had washed and put everything right back where they found it early that morning, and the church had enough money for upkeep and maybe even a renovation or two. It was a labor of love that made a deep impression on me, and no doubt many others who saw the kind hearts and sweat poured into cooking a good meal. Today, in the church’s main dining room, they’ve assembled an array of photos showing how the church began meeting at Spaws Creek School in the 1940s. The women cooked to earn enough money to help build the humble building standing today, which the church’s men constructed. It not only survived the 2012 tornado but did so with minimal damage. Zula, Ruth Allen, and many other church women now, as then, are some of the best cooks ever to walk the earth. Though they don’t cook as often as they used to, they continue to nourish multitudes. I’m proud to know them.