Thursday, February 12, 2009

Grandma and Grandpa Augerson

Stella Mae Henry Augerson 1886-1979
Herbert Rutherford Augerson 1884-1969

Their names were Stella and Herbert; if I'd been a boy I've gotten the Herbert; there's another reason to like having been born a girl.  

I haven't told you much about Grandpa.  Here he is with me, both of us focused on the camera or something else even more interesting.  Grandpa was apparently a handsome young Swede who drove his horses fast.  When Grandma married him she probably didn't get that he'd drift from place to place and job just as much as the men in her family had.  But he let me help him with his chores - feeding the chickens, working on wood - and I liked him.  Much later my mother told him he was a bigoted old man, which was true, too.  
I reminded myself of Grandpa the other day when I put a rubber band around my checkbook cover to keep it shut.  Grandpa loved rubber bands, and his garage was full of old cigar boxes that kept many things safe with a couple of rubber bands around the outside.  I use rubber bands more and more.

Grandma was the first in her family to go to college, and she endured teaching in a one-room school for a whole year before she met Grandpa.  She loved teaching me and made sure my grammar was up to snuff, but she hated being a cute young thing when some of her pupils were big and tough.  I'm glad that the only picture I have of her with me as a little kid shows us reading.  

She was no cookie-baking grandma.  She hated to cook.  That's why I learned to cook in her kitchen instead of my mother's; Grandma let me make messes to my heart's content.  I made little creations out of her leftover pie crust, and later I spent the summer trying to invent the perfect barbecue sauce (never having visited Kansas City!).  

But she made one thing that I loved, and only later did my dad tell me it was a depression recipe born of desperation.  She called it egg gravy, and it must be Swedish.  To make it you fry up bacon, take out the cooked slices and leave the grease in the pan.  Then you beat up some eggs with lots of milk, reheat the grease a little, pour in the eggs, and mix it around.  Keep mixing over low heat; it'll curdle, that's what it does.  Eventually it takes on the consistency of a curdled cooked custard (yum!).  Then you put lots of salt and pepper on it and serve it on toast with the bacon on the side.  Then you take your cholesterol tablets, just in case.  But don't knock it until you've tried it.  

Daddy said that in the depths of the depression they ate egg gravy without the bacon.  Not so yum.  But even when food was scarce, they must have known people with cows and chickens.  I think there's a recipe for egg gravy in the 1947 Galesburg First Lutheran Women's Missionary Society Cookbook, which Jeremy owns now.  The other highlight of that book is about ten pages of jello recipes.  

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