Ripley woman relies on black iron skillet in her kitchen

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

RIPLEY – Annie Lou Wommack may have been born nearly 100 years ago, but she’s definitely not behind the times.
The mother of three, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of 14 has a kitchen full of modern appliances, including a microwave, a Crock-Pot and a toaster oven.
“But mostly, I just use my black skillet,” said Wommack, a widow who will be 97 this year.
A child of the Great Depression, Wommack knows the value of a dollar and a hard day’s work.
“I’m a pack rat,” she said matter-of-factly. “I save things I’ll probably never use. When you’re raised up like I was – you either saved or you didn’t have. I learned that from my mother and daddy.”
The white-haired Wommack was born in Falkner, but grew up in Ripley, the sixth of seven children born to Pink and Rosie Yancey. But you wouldn’t find the young woman in the kitchen in her formative years.
“My mother never let me in the kitchen because I was too much of a tomboy,” she said. “I had an older brother I was always following around. When he wore overalls, I wore overalls.”
After she married Lester “Jim” Wommack in the late 1930s, she finally made her way into the kitchen.
“I learned my cooking from my mother’s recipes,” she said. “Biscuits is what I learned to cook first. And then teacakes. And I could fry potatoes in an iron skillet.”
Wommack’s favorite cookbook is the original “Bell’s Best.” Her copy is held together with duct tape, and its food-stained pages are stuffed with recipes, including one from the MSU Extension Service for Easy Rolls on which Wommack has written, “No good, sorry.”

Never learned to drive
Wommack isn’t one for watching television – except The Weather Channel – but loves to work word puzzles and she is a voracious reader.
She likes love stories by writers like Danielle Steele, Sandra Brown and Nicholas Sparks. She’s currently reading “An Anguished Hallelujah” by Linda Flaherty who grew up in Mississippi.
“I’ve read the Bible through three times,” she said. “I think the Lord has guided me through my years. In fact, I know he did.”
And while Wommack likes to travel, she doesn’t drive.
“I used to drive a tractor, but I was in a field. I wasn’t out on the road. I was so afraid I’d hit somebody that I never did want to drive. My husband said I didn’t need to learn how to drive, that he’d drive for me. And he did.”

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