How People Ate: Florene’s Feast

My Great Aunt Florene Decker, who died last week at age 101, was a longtime farm wife renowned for both the quality and quantity of her cooking. (She’d also once worked at the Dutch Mill, a landmark Bluffton restaurant that burned down in the ‘90s, though I hadn’t realized this until I saw her obituary.)

Florene as a young woman

After one particularly memorable meal Florene served in October 1985, my late grandmother, Virginia Decker, felt compelled to record the menu that struck her as a “thresher’s feast” — though it was served to a party of 8:

Fried steak

Mashed potatoes and gravy

Corn

Sweet potatoes

Macaroni and cheese

Cole slaw

Deviled eggs

Sliced tomatoes

Relish plate

Rice glorified

Mixed fruit

Cherry pie

Peach cream pie

Angel food cake

Biscuits and whole wheat bread

Though it wasn’t served at this particular dinner, Florene was especially known for her chocolate cake with icing so thick and dense it was almost like a layer of fudge candy. My Uncle Dan* likes to tell a story about how, as a boy, he carefully removed the hardened icing from his cake and set it aside so he could enjoy it last — only to have his Uncle Herman, Florene’s husband, come along and scoop it up.

“Don’t like the frosting, eh?” said Herman, as he popped Dan’s carefully saved treat in his mouth.

Dan was too thunderstruck to reply.

A postcard of the old Dutch Mill restaurant in Bluffton currently up for sale on Ebay.

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