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Occupations open to young girls used to be pretty limited and could be written down on an abbreviated list; nurse, teacher, secretary, or housewife. My mother was determined that her two daughters would know how to cook when they left home.
Junior High Home Economics was the introductory culinary experience for many of us, taught by a lady named Mrs. Grace who did not live up to her name. . We started out with breakfast, following a detailed recipe on how to make oatmeal. Since our class met between 2:30 and 3:15 pm, hot cereal was not popular. The teacher rounded the kitchen corner just in time to see me scraping mine down the drain. Fortunately for her, but not for me, there was enough for a second helping.
After a few weeks, she had discovered the two girls in the class who had some experience in the kitchen. The home economics department had been charged with preparing a luncheon for the faculty using a menu that called for gingerbread with whipped cream for dessert. My friend and I were given identical hand mixers and bowls for whipping the cream. Soft peaks were forming, sugar was sprinkled in liberally, and a splash of vanilla added for scent and flavor. I was busy licking the beater when Mrs. Grace rounded the infamous corner, catching me in mid-lick and witnessing me mistakenly plunging my beater back into my friend’s bowl. This was not good.
The outstanding culinary event of the semester happened when the Junior National Honor Society was invited to have a taffy pull after the monthly meeting. The winning two man team was the one farthest apart, producing long sticky cables like the Brooklyn Bridge. Fuzz from the carpet added both color and texture.
We only did that once.
Mrs. Grace retired at the end of the year.