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American History
Leupp Hall, Cooking Class


       Mrs. Boory taught the cooking class at Leupp Hall. Her classroom consisted of appliances saved over from the distant past. They were clean, shiny with not any appearance of having been overused even though it could be seen these were of another time. White utilitarian objects devised for  service offered nothing of style or the thought that they were for  decorative use. Really it reminded me of what was at the ranch house where I grew up. Some of those stoves and Servel refrigerators, had been purchased after 1920. They were not even any longer in use because of  having been replaced with more modern, updated styles.

       “How had this equipment been so well preserved with such a clean, unbattered appearance?” I wondered.  The drawers beside and underneath the sinks were well equipped with tools carefully placed in the same place every time. Indeed, if anyone wanted to learn this was the way to do it.

        These years later as I begin to re-evaluate the memories of the past it is clear to me how my Osage aunt, Bertha Big Eagle, Jones,  had everything to do with establishing the order of the kitchen where I grew up. She was educated in a government school, too. This of course, was the order she learned and then incorporated it into her own home kitchen. At this time in Chilocco I didn't understand this. The room simply looked like the early day kitchen I knew as a child and it was the one to have gone its way with newer furnishings over the years.  I had a strange feeling as if  I was stepping  back into my childhood surroundings. The aura was not, unpleasant.

       There were long  shelves in the food storage pantry. On those shelves were every possible supply for serving great numbers of people. Gallon jars of olives, pickles, relish and other condiments were present. I couldn't comprehend how this amount of food would be used. Later on while the girls formed long lines as servers for this or that banquet who consumed the food  became apparent to me then.  It was for the students themselves but served in a more elegant manner than the common every day cafeteria, so-called, military chow.

       While we readied ourselves for the class was when we were made aware of the unbecoming long aprons and hair nets we had to wear. Dutifully we covered ourselves with the white aprons reaching to our ankles. It was only then I happened to look up at some of the girls who were evidently veterans of this class. They had their hair nets laced with ribbons and pinned to the back of their heads.  The long strings of the aprons they had cinched all around their waist and tied them in the front. This pulled the garment tight around them in order to show off their figure.

      “How did you get your apron so short?”  I asked one of the girls.

      A wide grin,  showing straight beautiful teeth,  made the veteran of this class,  beautiful. She had the appearance of being a teenage girl which she really was, instead of a plain, frumpy person who was draped in a baker's apron and a dishwasher's hair net.

      “I brought safety pins to pin it up.”  The girl's light hearted statement was a testimony to her character in that she had taken  rather dull, drab surroundings and transformed them into something just a little above the ordinaire.

       The culmination of our class was for having a complete meal prepared, table set for company and at this time we were allowed to invite a guest from the boy's department. I remember having invited Eddie Wood. He was a quiet boy who always had a smile. I didn't know him at all and I think he was a little surprised to be included as an honored guest. Some years after we graduated, I happened to visit with him close to his home in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The invitation at Chilocco had given us a comradery we never lost and it was one that no one of any other social order understood.


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