Written by Aunt Ruthie on May 24th, 2008
I have a basketful of vintage photos of people I don’t know. Whenever I am shopping at an antique mall, I am always drawn to the black and white or sepia photographs. I am fascinated by these men, women and children. They were real people who lived their lives, had families, set up their households, and cooked, cleaned, scrubbed, laughed, cried, prayed, created, worked hard and persevered. These images are snapshots of a single moment, frozen in time.
I study their faces. Look at their eyes. What were they like? What were their names? What was their calling on earth? What did they accomplish? What adventures did they experience? What were their secret recipes? Whose hearts did they touch? Did they know the Lord? Is anyone remembering them? Did they leave a legacy? What was their story?
Since I can’t get the answers to my nosey questions, I create my own story about them. Within seconds of seeing a photograph, my imagination runs a little wild. I give these folks names, a personality, and a history! I know it’s a little goofy, but I like goofy!
One of my most favorite photographs is this one. I’ve given her the name, Beulah Louise Perkins (her friends called her “Sweets” for short). You can see she was a hearty, apple-cheeked gal with tenacity. Just the fact that she’s on a tractor, tells me that she had gumption. She was a no-nonsense kind of gal. When there was a job to be done, she just did it, and that was that. She had grit. There was no time to be weak and self-pitying. Now, that is not to say that she went about her work with a frown on her face, goodness no! Beulah Louise was the most cheerful gal in Turkey Creek, and always ready for a good laugh. She lived her life by her favorite song Brighten the Corner Where You Are. Her mind was always thinking about how she could bring a ray of sunshine to someone.
She was happiest on her tractor or in her kitchen lettin’ the flour fly. And just look at her lovely sunbonnet, and pinned-on apron over her well-scrubbed cotton house dress, which was most certainly homemade. And don’t you just know she dabbed a bit of vanilla extract behind her ears to smell sweet. She had grace.
As a farmer’s wife, she learned the simple lesson that if you sow corn seed, you’ll harvest corn. If you sow pumpkin seed, you will harvest pumpkins. If you sow a batch of bad attitudes you’ll reap “heap ‘o’ heartache”. But if you sow goodness, and kindness and a bucketful of joy thrown in, why, that is just what you’ll get back.
She was deliberate about getting up at the crack of dawn to begin her day, and she was just as intent upon getting her attitude right-good and happy. She started her day in the quiet of her kitchen, with prayer, praise, thanksgiving and making pies. With a good cup of hot coffee set close by, she would open her Bible and underline a scripture that spoke to her heart. As she pondered the verse, she went about mixing the feather-soft flour with the sugar and salt, cutting in the butter, then slowly drizzled in the water.
As she rolled out the tender dough, scattering the flour briskly underneath, her whispered prayers, along with puffs of white wheat-dust, would gently and quietly float upward toward heaven. She would ask “Lord who can I bless today with a pie?”, and as always, the Lord would speak to her heart a special someone in need of a little sweet mercy. She would immediately pray for God’s blessing for that dear friend.
The sunrise streaming through her starched white kitchen curtains would bathe and warm her hands in a buttery light as she ever-so-gently lifted the dough onto the pie pan. Attentively, Beulah Louise would ladle the sugared filling into the bottom of dough lined pan. If it was springtime you can be sure it was strawberry-rhubarb. One of her favorites. She would thank and praise the Good Lord Jesus for blessing her with a sturdy home and a bountiful garden. She would shout “Glory!” at the very thought of God’s constant provision and love.
Beulah Louise liked to make her pies all fancy like. She loved to use her tiny star-shaped cookie cutter to create a starry top-crust, just to remind folks that the prayers she whispered for them, were heard by their Father up in Heaven.
The warm morning breeze would sweep in through the open window, billowing the curtains, and lift the aroma of baking pie along with her hymn singin’, and carry it throughout the house. She would sing I Love To Tell The Story in soprano, with a tender vibrato.
I love to tell the story! ‘Twill be my theme in glory,If she was feeling giddy and a little slaphappy she would belt out the old tune…
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
Old Dan Tucker was a mighty man
Washed his face in a frying pan
Combed his hair with a wagon wheel
Died of a toothache in his heel! When her two daughters, Emma and Katie Ruth were youngins’, they would march around the kitchen as Mama sang the Old Dan Tucker song, clanging wooden spoons against their white enamel dishpans, giggling the whole time. She knew how to make chores fun. She loved to fill her home with laughter. The sweetness of Beulah Louise was revealed each time she shared her prayer-full pies. She liked to coddle folks. Not smother, mind you, but to pamper and comfort, to make people feel cared for, safe, honored.
On Wednesday’s and Friday’s she would pack her pie in her tin bake-in-take picnic basket, added a note, I prayed a sweeter-than-pie blessing over you today…Love, Sweets. She would then go deliver it and delight someone’s heart. It was the goodness of her heart that wooed folks from all over the valley to want to know her and be her friend.
On the mornings when she wasn’t making pie, just as the sun peeked it’s golden little head above the hilltop, while the air was still crisp, cool and quiet, she would pour thick cream into 4 large canning jars, screw the lids on tight, wrap them each in a soft cotton flour sack and place them on a nest of soft hay in a wooden crate. She would strap the crate to the back of the tractor and get to plowing. While she plowed, she was also churning butter. “There is nothing bumpier than a tracker ride” she’d say, “perfect conditions for making sweet butter”. When hard times hit, and hard they did, Beulah Louise trusted the Lord and kept busy. “You’ve got to keep moving, keep your mind and hands busy. Time and the Lord will take care of the rest.”
In springtime one year, at the beginning of planting season, her husband Maynard took ill with Pneumonia. While he was bedridden, that same week, lightening struck the barn and burned it to the ground. Beulah Louise, began to fret and worry about how she was going to handle planting the crops all by herself. Her daughters, now grown and married, lived two states away. The farm was their source of income and it meant food on the table. And poor Maynard, she had never seen her strong strapping husband so sick. She got on her knees and had a real good cry… for about five minutes. She gave her worries to the Lord in prayer, and said to Him, “Lord, I can’t wait to see how you are going to get me out of this awful mess!” She reminded herself that there is no need to worry myself sick, God already has my future figured out. Then she got up and washed her face. Right then and there she had peace that God would stay at her side and provide for her and Maynard’s needs. She was reaping a harvest of faith and strength for sowing God’s Word in her heart, everyday, like clockwork.
At night, just before bedtime she would read aloud to Maynard Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” What a comfort the Word of God is. She held onto that scripture for dear life.
Beulah Louise needed prayer, so she telephoned Viola Haskins, her Recipe Club sister and prayer partner. Viola, called Effie Crabgrass who called Idella Thatcher, who called Pearl Butterworth. In no time, the word spread like syrup on a stack of steaming hotcakes. The towns-folk came to rescue “Sweets” in droves. They swooped down on the Perkins homestead like bees to a hive. Plowing, planting, and barn raising. With tears streaming down her face, Beulah Louise stood in amazement and shouted “Glory! Glory to God!”
She never would have imagined such an outpouring of love, had it not been for her hardships. As she dabbed her tears with her hankie she thought, maybe that’s what God meant in Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”..…. Hard times give us an opportunity to trust the Lord, and see Him work miracles. Giving thanks in the midst of difficulty is faith in action. It’s believing the Lord will calm the stormy sea. That all things will work together for good. Thanking the Lord in advance is like giving a wink to Jesus…it’s letting Him know, that you know, He’s got everything under control.
Wouldn’t you know, that when summer time came they had the biggest and best harvest ever! “That’s just like the Lord!” Beulah proclaimed.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. Psalm 34:17
Before long Maynard was back to his ornery self, bless his heart. He loved to tease Beulah when her Recipe Club sisters gathered at the house. He’d hear the crunch of tires on the gravel as they drove up, and would glance through the screen door and see the parade of gabbing ladies climb out of the car… Viola, Effie, Idella, Pearl, and Jessie Mae, all wearing aprons and carrying their rolling pins. He would holler “Sweets, the hens are here for your hen party!”
The all-day-bake was in preparation for the monthly Ice-cream and Pie social at the First Community Bible Church. The kitchen swirled with the aromas of pastry and perfume. As part of the Recipe Club’s tradition to unite this sisterhood of sassy gals, (and have some plain old fun) Beulah would go around to each lady and put a dab of flour on their nose. That way, if any men-folk were to stop by, the gals would look like they had been hard at work, but truth be told, they were having a hilarious, knee-slappin old time!
Sometimes they would get carried away and their whole faces would be dusted white. Flour would fly and boisterous voices chattered, giggled, squealed and cackled. The hens were gettin’ rowdy! Maynard poked his head around the doorway and shouted “Hey, who let the chickens out of the coop and into the kitchen!…Oh hello ladies!” They looked up and he saw their flour-smudged faces, and shook his head from side to side, rolled his eyes and smirked out a chuckle. Beulah swatted her tea-towel at him “Now you shoo!” she insisted, He stole a kiss from her, tipped his hat at the ladies, and walked away, unaware of the flour left on his cheeks and nose from snatching some sugar from his beloved “Sweets”, which only gave rise to a burst of laughter in Beulah’s bustling kitchen.
The Pies they baked that day looked so good they were beggin’ to be eaten. That evening, after the flour had been swept up and the table was set for supper, Beulah untied her apron as she thought about the day, the fun she had, her friends and the goodness of the Lord, and she just had to say “Glory!”.
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14
Beulah Louise Perkins was a gal who sparkled with gumption, grit and grace, even if she was just a figment of my carried-away imagination! Those are character traits I am striving for. I want to be gracefully brave, to trust the Lord whatever comes my way, and know beyond a shadow of doubt that He will carry me when I am too weary to walk, and whisper in my heart… the best is yet to be! Glory!
For I know the plans I have for you, “says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope…” Jeremiah 29:11
Thank you for stopping by for some Gumption Pie! Be blessed today! My next post will include Sweet Beulah’s recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb pie!
Leave a Comment...