Oral History -Brenda Coffey – Part 3: ‘Family Meals’

Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler

Brenda Coffey

Brenda Coffey

Brenda’s father was a big breakfast eater and normally cooked breakfast – eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, grits, toast, or cornbread. Her mother would make biscuits. It was always something totally home made. Lunch was kind of incidental – a sandwich or leftovers from supper the night before.

Dinner dishes were often fried fish, fried chicken, fried pork chops, or roasts, and sometimes baked chicken. When Brenda got married the only thing she knew how to do was fry food. Everyone drank sweetened tea, really sweet. They never had Cokes or Pepsi, unless perhaps at a restaurant. Teenagers drank a lot of soft drinks.

Hardly any food came out of cans (and certainly not freezers). Her mother had a garden as did her grandmother.  They grew vegetables – beans, butterbeans, field peas, green beans, onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, collards, and potatoes which they mostly boiled. And they had chickens. Brenda had to clean the eggs. She had only seen grocery store eggs and thought all eggs were clean and white. She didn’t know they came out dirty. She didn’t enjoy cleaning eggs a bit and she didn’t like the chickens either.

Her father used to make his own vinegar with the little peppers. He poured white vinegar over the peppers and let it stand. He had a really good recipe for BBQ sauce from the BBQ House Restaurant he had in Lumberton.

Brenda’s mother must have been 60 years old before she ever used a mix. She made everything from scratch. She was a good cook – all kinds of chocolate cakes, in particular, a cake that Brenda liked was a yellow cake with 3 layers, each layer cut in 2, and a hard fudge frosting over it.  Her mother baked lots of pies from scratch – chocolate pies, lemon pies, sweet potato pies, and pumpkin pies.

Brenda’s daddy kept a motor boat in the yard which he put in at Fort Fisher around the rocks to get oysters or fish out of the bay for the family. They would go shrimping in the river and pull the nets. It was lots of fun. Brenda’s job was to pick up the jumping live shrimp which she didn’t like to touch.

The family went to what is now the Lutheran Church which was then non-denominational.  Brenda went to the Lutheran church youth group on Sunday evening – Luther League. They had mostly games and refreshments.

Brenda’s daddy had Jeeps, a German jeep at one time and a succession of army surplus Jeeps. One Jeep would tear up or rust to pieces and he would just buy another one.

Dan and Brenda married in 1960 and lived in Kure Beach for 8 years on 5th street and K. A blue triplex on the corner belonged to them and a house near by. They moved Brenda’s  mother and father’s house (barracks) on that lot in 1961. The town had an ordinance that you could not move a barracks; but the barracks had been rebuilt so it didn’t fall under the criteria anymore. Her mother and daddy built the house that is now on these lots.