Pottery and piano part of Monroe County cook's life

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

When Dean Wright needs a bowl or a platter or a serving piece for the food she prepares, she doesn’t have to look far.
A casual survey of her kitchen and living area reveals dozens of pieces of Peter’s and McCarty pottery she’s collected over the years. Bowls nest inside one another, platters are displayed on stands, tall candlesticks flank the fireplace, pitchers line a shelf in the kitchen and serving pieces spill onto every available surface.
“I’ve bought some and I’ve been given some,” said Wright, 62. “Believe me, I have friends that have a lot more than I do. I haven’t bought anything in a while. My husband gives me money at Christmas and I’ll buy me a couple of pieces then.”
Wright and her husband, Arlen “Poochy” Wright, who celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary on Sunday, live in the Athens community outside Becker in Monroe County. They have two sons and six grandchildren.
“I’m by no means a gourmet cook. I just cook what we like,” Wright said. “Both my boys were good eaters. One is 6-foot-5 and the other is 6-foot-8. I tell them we put Miracle-Gro on them when they were born.”
Wright is retired from the Monroe County School District Superintendent’s Office, where she worked for 38 years before retiring in 2007.
“I stay really busy since I retired,” she said. “I don’t know how I ever had time to work. I work part time now at Henry’s Clothiers in Aberdeen. That gets me out of the house some. I play Bunko once a month. And I’m the church treasurer and pianist at Paine Memorial United Methodist Church in Athens.”
Piano was actually one of Wright’s first loves. She began playing when she was about 9.
“I told my husband when I retired I was going to buy me a baby grand piano and I did,” she said. “I play to relax. I can play for an hour or two and never get tired. Sometimes at night, after my husband has gone to bed, I’ll put the soft pedal on and play.”
If piano was a first love, cooking is certainly a second. Wright learned to cook from watching her grandmothers, Mama Rorie and her Mama Justice.
“They had different styles,” she said. “Mama Justice cooked chocolate gravy and biscuits and red beans and rice. Mama Rorie was more of a fried chicken, roast, meatloaf and vegetables cook – more of a country cook. I really didn’t have to cook much growing up because they did it all. When I married, I could make spaghetti and hamburgers. That was it.”
Wright said she’ll try new recipes at least two or three times a month.
“I like to try different stuff,” she said. “I’m just a plain cook, but I do like different stuff. My husband will tell you I cook like the boys are still at home – then we have to eat on whatever I’ve made for four or five days.”
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 email them to ginna.parsons@journalinc.com.