By M. Scott Morris
TUPELO – Betty Reeves was in grammar school during World War II.
“It was fifth or sixth grade. Everybody was doing what they could for the war effort,” the 83-year-old Tupelo resident said. “We collected newspapers and aluminum. We did without things. I don’t know what people would do now if they had to ration – sugar, gas, tires. People now might not know how to handle it.”
Reeves remembers people in those days doing so much more than she could, and it’s their example that sends her to the kitchen every week.
Sims Reeves was three years older than she was when they both attended Loretto High School in a Tennessee town just north of Florence, Alabama. He married another, as did she.
His wife died Dec. 4, 1976, and her husband died on the same day a year before. They eventually dated, married and moved to Tupelo.
Sims Reeves flew B52s in the Air Force until he retired in 1971. Since then, he’s attended American Legion meetings.
Tony Lute’s Veterans Museum used to be at The Mall at Barnes Crossing, and veterans met once a week.
“They were having coffee, and somebody mentioned or decided that they needed some snacks, so I started doing brownies,” she said. “Then I suggested doing something else. They said, ‘No, brownies are great,’ so I kept doing them.”
The baking’s been going on for about 10 years, she estimated. Her husband takes the brownies each Wednesday morning, but makes sure to grab his first.
“Oh, yeah, chocolate is my favorite,” Sim Reeves, 86, said. “If something happened to chocolate, the world would be a terrible place.”
She’s been blessed with good health and can’t remember missing a Wednesday batch. And she’s sure not to let the deadline sneak up on her.
“I work ahead to get them done in case something comes up. I had two boys. I was a den mother and all that. I believe in the den mother philosophy, ‘If something can go wrong, it will,’” she said. “Wait, that wasn’t a den mother saying. What was it?”
“Murphy’s Law,” her husband said.
Sims Reeves said his fellow veterans have come to expect the brownies, and one guy would take four or five each week if he could.
But they’re not for everybody.
“I’d say about half of them have some, and the other half say, ‘I’m a diabetic,’” he said. “I didn’t know diabetes was that rampant.”
It’s a relatively simple thing to bake brownies, let them cool, cut them and wrap them up. Reeves certainly isn’t saying that she’s doing anything special.
“During World War II, so many people did more than I did,” she said. “I think that’s my reason for the brownies. It’s something I can do, and it’s something I want to do.”