The first person I thought of when I saw this week’s prompt was my grandmother, Malzie Elizabeth Silcox Hahn. She was my dad’s mother and an amazing cook.
Now, I’m not talking about gourmet cooking. It was ordinary food, but she had a special touch with it. Holidays were extra special when we got to visit Grandma and Papa Hahn. The table would be laden with Southern traditional food – Turkey, potato salad (she’d make some without onions for me and one of my uncles who didn’t like onions either), Fordhook lima beans, and cornbread, just to name a few items. And the desserts! Banana pudding (my dad’s favorite). Mississippi Mud Cake (my favorite). Boy, I miss those days.
Malzie was born on June 19, 1919 to Dave Silcox and Annie Olive Givens. It was always said she was born in Gateswood, Baldwin County, Alabama, but I found one Alabama birth record that says she was born in Muscogee, Escambia County, Florida. (“Alabama, County Birth Registers, 1881-1930,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:WXTY-LBZM : 12 December 2019))
She married my grandfather, Charles Theodore Hahn, on Christmas Eve, 1933. When she was just 14 and a half years old. My dad came along on December 2, 1934. In all, they had five sons and two daughters.
Malzie was a working woman; she spent 27 years in the bag plant at St. Regis Paper Mill in Cantonment, Escambia County, Florida. I’m not sure when she started working at St. Regis; on the 1945 Census, she is listed as a housewife.
I remember once I was visiting when one of my relatives, I think a second cousin, was getting married. Grandma was helping with the food, and I got put to work, icing a layered sandwich with Neufchâtel cheese. It was the first time I had ever heard of that kind of cheese, and I thought it was so good. Plus, the sandwich that looked like a cake was a new one on me as well.
Occasionally, I will make her Mississippi Mud Cake. She got the recipe, so I’m told, from a Bell’s Best Cookbook. My mom copied it from the book onto an index card, and then mom copied it out for me when I moved away. Making it reminds me of Grandma, and makes the eating of it that much sweeter, too.