Box Suppers Provided Sweet Entertainment

During the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era, entertainment was almost non-existent. The word of the day was “if it costs money, forget it.”

TV was yet to come, and newspapers and magazines required subscriptions. If the wind blew the wind charger that day, charging the 6-volt batteries, listening to the radio was free. Visiting neighbors and going to Sunday school and church was about the limit of entertainment for most rural people.

We attended Sunday school each week at a small former country schoolhouse; a preacher came every fourth Sunday. Heat was provided by a coal heater; each family brought a gallon bucket of coal from home every week. The REA electric bill had to be paid in cash, so the community held a box or pie supper every month to raise money to pay the bill.

Women and girls filled small boxes with fried chicken and other delicacies, decorated the containers elaborately and concealed their names from the crowd. The boxes were auctioned off to the highest bidder. The winning bidder and the box owner, no matter the difference in their ages, sat together and enjoyed the contents of the box.

Cooks concocted great schemes to conceal their identities. The younger set, which might be courting, leaked secrets and suggestions to beaus. In spite of the precautions, most courting couples shared the right box in the end.On alternate months, homemade pies were auctioned. This was my favorite function as, even at 7 years of age, I had a girlfriend and I loved homemade pies. My current love was 8 years old and could bake a super-sweet, creamy chocolate pie with calf slobbers piled 2 inches high on top. It was love at first sight when I saw this most delightful creation.

At one pie auction I bid my limit on her pie, but mischievous friends and fathers raised my final bid. As I walked out the door, dejected, my father handed me the pie, making sure I got to enjoy the evening at its best. My love and I sat side-by-side and devoured the whole pie.

We grew up, attended different schools and lost track of each other. In 1990, we met again at a school reunion. We hugged and laughed, recalling the good old days when we enjoyed the pie auctions and ate her pies. We introduced our spouses, compared photos of grandchildren, and exchanged addresses and phone numbers. As she walked away, I surmised she was still an excellent cook.

Now, I could live with the thought of a lost love and all that might have been. But the memory of that super-sweet, creamy chocolate pie, topped off with 2 inches of golden tan calf slobbers, leaves me a bit teary eyed! FC

Delbert Trew is a freelance writer, retired rancher and supervisor of the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, Texas. Contact him at Trew Ranch, Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002; (806) 779-3164; e-mail:
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