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
“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
“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.