Mother and I went to see "The Help" Wednesday. What a great movie! It made me think about my childhood. I was raised in Memphis, TN not Jackson, MS, but still a southern town. I went to Little Miss Manner's class and was raised as Southern as they come, my name says it all (my Mother loved Gone with the Wind).
Just like many of you, I grew up with "help" in our home. My Mother had help during my childhood until we lost my Father when I was in high school. Lela Franklin was a part of our family and we loved and respected her. Lela had 17 children, the youngest were in high school by the time she started helping my Mother when I was a baby. She would cook, clean, and watch my brothers and I when Mother had to leave the house. Her husband was a Baptist Minister and I remember going to their church for special events, it was always fun, they had "live" music as my Mother called it and danced around a lot during their worship service. When Lela was sick or had a commitment with her family or the church, she would send one of her older daughters, Maylena or Josephine to come in her place. They never cooked as good as Lela but we still loved and respected them. One of my favorite memories with Lela growing up was in the afternoons, Lela would wait to do the ironing until her "stories" (aka soap operas) came on and would set up the ironing board in front of the TV. She watched channel 13-ABC so All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital (and I think The Edge of Night). When I would get home from school, she would let me sit with her and I got to iron the pillow cases (yes she ironed our sheets)... I loved sitting and watching her "stories" with her and ironing the pillow cases. I always loved and respected Lela and her role in my family. She was like a member of our family and I will always cherish our time with her.
My Great Grandmother had help from Miss Willie throughout my childhood as well. Willie would come during the week and many times during family gatherings to help my Great Grandmother out. She was part of the family. Willie was always there every Christmas Eve, she chose to come and help my Great Grandmother set up dinner, serve and clean up then my Great Grandfather or an Uncle would take her home to be with her family. Growing up with someone of different colored skin in our home was not weird, different or uncommon. We saw that she loved us and we loved her and treated her with respect. Willie will always be remembered as part of my Great Grandmother's family.
Many of you have someone that comes into your home and cooks, cleans and/or is a Nanny to your children today. Always be sure to respect them, treat as you want to be treated, pay them appropriately, and show your appreciation to them especially in front of your children. We all come from different backgrounds and have different monetary income, so no matter your financial status or situation, always treat those in your home like you would want to be treated. If you haven't seen "The Help" I highly recommend you read the book and see the movie.
I would also like to share our family Southern Chocolate Pie recipe with you. Now this is not Ms. Hilly's Special Chocolate Pie that Ms. Minnie made for her in the book/movie but a delicious Southern Chocolate Pie. Give it a try next time you want to make something chocolate.
Southern Chocolate Pie:
1/4 cup cocoa
4 TBSP self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups sugar (set aside sugar for your Meringue, see recipe below)
2 cups milk
1/2 stick butter
1 TBSP vanilla
pinch of salt
Pillsbury Refrigerator Pie Crust (or any ready to bake pastry pie crust)
Brown pie crust at 400 degrees and set aside. Mix sugar, cocoa, flour and salt. Separate eggs (reserve whites). Mix egg yokes and milk together. Then mix all ingredients together in a large saucepan. Start cooking on high temperature stirring constantly. Reduce heat when mixture begins to thicken. When thick add butter and vanilla. Pour into browned pie crust.
Beat egg whites in glass bowl until stiff. Add 2 TBSP sugar per egg white. Pour Meringue on top of chocolate pie and let brown at 350 degrees.