By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
ABERDEEN – One day last week, Wynene Jones treated her co-workers to lunch at their workplace – Lift Inc. – in Aberdeen.
The 73-year-old prepared a chicken spaghetti casserole, a big tossed salad, garlic bread and a lemon dessert.
“Mrs. Jones, that was so good,” said one as she carried her empty plate into the kitchen. “Oh, I ate too much. I think I hurt myself,” said another. “We both enjoyed it. Thanks so much, “ said a third as she patted her pregnant stomach.
Jones beamed and took the compliments in stride. She’s used to getting high praise for her homemade goodies.
“When I’d go to Tupelo for the Lift central office for meetings, we’d have socials,” she said. “And I didn’t have a choice. They’d tell me what they wanted me to bring.”
Catering to people’s tastes is old hat to Jones, who serves as the coordinator for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. Before going to work for Lift nine years ago, she spent 21 years as an assistant teacher at Aberdeen Elementary. Before that, she worked full time as a preacher’s wife.
“And you don’t get paid for that, by the day, the week, or the hour,” she said jokingly. Jones’ husband, Jerry, was the minister at Aberdeen Church of Christ for 40 years before his death in 2003.
Hard at work
Both Jones and her husband hailed from Lamar County in Alabama.
“He was the football quarterback and I was the cheerleader,” she said. “We met when I was in the eighth grade and dated for four years before we got married.”
And could she cook when her wedding day rolled around? “Not a bit. My mother didn’t want me in the kitchen because I hindered her,” she said. “Plus, between cheerleader practice and getting ready for dates and homework, I didn’t have much time for it.”
When the couple first married, before Jerry headed to school at Freed-Hardeman in Tennessee, he was an electrician, and the two of them got in the kitchen and learned to cook together.
“I couldn’t match his cornbread or straight country cooking,” she said. “I was the baker – the cakes, the pies, and all that good stuff.”
Today, in addition to cooking for co-workers and for various RSVP programs, she prepares Sunday dinner for her family, which includes two daughters, four grandsons and one great-granddaughter.
“We eat as soon as church is over,” she said. “I cook everything before we go except last-minute bread and stuff.”
She makes sure there’s something on the table to everyone’s liking – chicken and dumplings, fried chicken for the ones who don’t eat chicken and dumplings, peas and corn, creamed potatoes for the ones who don’t eat corn.
“Between my family and my church and my work – taking care of them is just really my life,” she said. “I think my bed would fall in if I got in it before midnight.”
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 email@example.com.