By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – In 1945, just after World War II ended, Hazel and Leo Langley purchased their first refrigerator. It was a General Electric model with a vegetable bin in the bottom and a freezer compartment at the top just big enough to hold ice trays.
Hazel Langley still uses that refrigerator today.
“It’s the only refrigerator I’ve ever had,” said Langley, who will turn 90 on Thursday. “I’ve only had it worked on one time. I keep expecting it to play out.”
Langley said the couple was living in New Albany after the war, and they had to put their name on a list to get one of the coveted kitchen appliances. When your name came up, you took whatever the store had.
“They had quit making refrigerators during the war because they needed the materials for other things,” she said. “I think we got one of the first ones.”
Langley has had to purchase a deep freezer to hold frozen foods, but the fridge works just fine and she still keeps ice trays in the upper compartment.
“I still have the two original ice trays,” she said, pointing to the aluminum trays with the cube dividers and the levers that help crack the ice.
While the old GE might be considered a bit old-fashioned, Langley certainly isn’t.
Her kitchen is full of modern conveniences and she still drives herself to church, the beauty shop, the grocery store and the drug store.
“I don’t drive out of town anymore, though,” she said.
Rutabagas and fried pies
There was a time when Langley cooked two to three times a day for her husband, who died in 1993, and her only son, Jimmy. Now that family has grown a bit. Jimmy and his wife, Martha, have two children and four grandchildren, and they do most of the cooking.
“I cook two to three times a week,” she said. “It’s hard to cook for just one. I cook Sunday dinner on Saturday for myself.”
Langley cooks a lot of vegetables – Martha and Jimmy usually have a garden, and she regularly gets butter beans and corn from that. In fact, one fresh-from-the-garden dish has become synonymous with her name at Wesley United Methodist Church: rutabaga turnips.
“Every time I’d go, they’d say, ‘Did you bring those rutabagas?’ And I finally had to say, ‘No, I’m tired of making them and I’m not going to make them for a while.’ The last time I went, I took a pie,” she said, laughing.
Church members also like her fried pies.
“I made 30 fried pies for a church bake sale and they sold real quick,” she said. “I had one lady at church tell me she bought 10 of them. They told me when I got there with them that they might not make even it out of the kitchen.”
Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.