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Virginia Dale Hester Hall….My Sister

Posted by Pete | Posted in News | Posted on 13-06-2012

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I think my sister probably hated to see me coming when we were both kids. She was a few years older that me, but I had the upper hand….Most of the time anyway….She was a’scared to death of bugs….any bug…June bugs, lightening bugs, grasshoppers, crickets, all those plentiful bugs in rural Alabama. And I would chase her all over the hillside around our house and since Mom and Dad worked most of the time our aunt next door usually saved her by threatening to whip my little butt if I didn’t stop.  Now, when it was getting close to supper I usually became her best buddy. That girl could cook the best fried chicken you ever tasted. My children still brag on her fried chicken. I remember Mom saying to her one day, “Now, sister, before too much longer you are going to be getting married and you need to learn how to kill a chicken.”  She had two there, one for Mom and one for Sister to practice on. Mom said , “Here’s how you do it.” She wrang the chickens neck for a time, then a quick pop of the wrist like one cracks a whip and it was over. The chicken was ready for cleaning. It was now Sister’s turn. She grabbed the chicken by the head,  held the chicken way out to her side, slowly cranked the old chicken round and round and then tossed the chicken over near the dead one. Her chicken, however, was not dead, for it jumped up and it’s old head started unwinding and it was running crazily all over the yard while its head was unwinding.  She had a audience of several people and you know she had a hard time living that down. Even  Momma was bent over laughing…That was funny. I don’t know if she ever really mastered that art or not because shortly after that we could buy our old dead chickens at the store. Anyway, Gent, as she was known to most of us,  was a precious lady, I still miss her. I think she forgave me for being such a stinker in my youth. By the way, my being a stinker can be verified by several cousins around that part of the world, even today….I probably chased them too….or worse…Pete

Comments (21)

Thank you for the post about my mom. She never did master the art of killing chickens I must add, Dwight and I had a large flock of chickens, that we raised, in the early 1990’s. We decided to kill, pluck, skin, and freeze them. Mom said she could help with the plucking, skinning, and freezing, but she could not kill them. Dwight and his mom committed the killings. We all helped with the plucking etc. She was a wonderful woman!! I miss her every day.

Yes, she was a wonderful woman….you did not say and “cook” but I know you believe that, huh? Uncle

I am pretty sure, I liked her fried chicken myself, but I was always more fond of her chicken an dumplings. It’s always cool to hear stories about my grandmother, by the time I came into her life, even from my earliest recollection, I can’t imagine her killing chickens.

what a great post! thanks very much for sharing it with us…http://www.mangueiraplastica.com

I can verify that my cousin was an excellent cook because Robert Earl’s and Gent’s house was one of my favorite places to go and spend the night when they lived on Uncle Buck’s place in the converted shop building of Bunny Bishop. I didn’t go because I loved her bed or her house that much, but I loved to stay with them because I loved her food. It was the best thing to Pete’s Mom’s food where I loved to stay at a younger age. Gent was a nice lady, and I guess she played the part of a Mother image for me, especially in the area of food making. We were so lucky in Coal Fire compared to what so many kids have to put up with today. Gad! No television! No cell phones! No telephones! No fancy computers and smartphones to boggle one’s mind! There was only enough cars that a kid could count on the fingers of both hands if he had the patience because it would take a while to use all the fingers. But we did have plenty of fancy, plain, unadulterated, and taste food! What a life?

Thanks to David, Estela and Errol for your comments. Yes, the lady could cook and I had forgotten about her chicken n’dumplins David but you just made me hungry in talking about them. Her cornbread was also outstanding. A person thinks cornbread is cornbread, but it just ain’t so. Her’s was outstanding. And yes, Errol, I too like to stay at her house. Thanks for the memories guys. Pete

Oh! definitely she did cook those young fryers. Excellent fried chicken, but those chicken ‘n dumplins were the best! I learned how to fry her chicken, but she was never able to teach me how to make her chicken ‘n dumplins. She tried on her last Thanksgiving with us in 2007, one more time to teach me that great recipe for chicken ‘n dumplins, but there was no hope. She was suppose to be remembered fondly for them – memories only.

Boy, ya’ll have got me thinking about Mother’s cooking and not just her chicken ‘n dumplings.
Her home made french fries were the best….
And her white icing cake was great…..
I too miss that wonderful Lady!!!!
Thanks Uncle for the story and thanks to all for the memories!!!!

Yeah, I had forgotten about the cake. Now that we have talked about it some, there were a lot of dishes that she could make well. Thanks for sharing with us Dan. Appreciate it…

Cornbread is not just cornbread. There is really good cornbread (called cornbread), and there is bad cornbread (called dogbread). My mother often called it waterbread that she would make just by mixing the corn meal with water for the dogs, leaving out the milk (buttermilk) and most of the seasoning. This dogbread is bad cornbread, but Ike (the birddog) loved it. Gent’s cornbread was some of the best that melted in one’s mouth and went down like cake with no sugary after taste.

One of the things she cooked that I loved were her new potatoes. She would boil them for a little while, then dip them in seasoned cornmeal and deep fry them. They were so good!! She was such a sweet person. I don’t think she inherited much of the Bonner temper! At least, I never saw her mad.

Sandra, thanks for the comment and I never had her deep fried new potatoes. They sure sound good. Thank you for sharing that with us. That could be a recipe worth trying. Pete

I enjoyed all the posts. Brings back a lot of memories around our house, with Mom wringing chicken’s necks and all. One big difference, tho- us kids didn’t consider Mom all that good of a cook, mainly because she cooked to my dad’s taste, and his philosophy was ‘it ain’t good if it ain’t burnt’. Seemed that way, anyhow.

Thanks, Dave and I seem to remember your Momma being a good cook. Didn’t we eat at her house a couple of times…..I think we did and I am pretty sure it was good. Been a few years though.

I did this posting back in June and here it is November and as I reread the comments it really warmed my heart. Gent has been gone for almost four years now, close to five, and it is wonderful to have her remembered by all of you and to hear the stories about her cooking. And it was always wonderful to visit Alabama for the visiting, the food and especiallly eating her cooking. I think some of the weight I still carry around was initially put on during some of those trips. Anyway, I don’t remember losing any of it. So, when you hug me next time you can say, “humm, some of Gent’s cooking, huh?” Love to all of you, Pete

I just reread this entire post. I loved reading everyone’s comments and especially your last post on 11/6/2012. Good memories. Love you!!

Thanks, Elisa…. We all certainly loved her and remember her, not only for her excellent cooking, but for the gentle love and sweet spirit she shared with us all.

In Heavens Land, at supper time, I’m not sure what they serve…… but if it’s chicken, crispy fried, then I’m pretty sure, I know the cook. Pete Hester

I can’t let this post just “drop” after you guys have apparently had it rolling for months and now have me all “misty-eyed” somewhere in West Texas.
So, I was also privileged to have the infamous chicken-n-dumplings of my Grandmother a couple of times. To that end, I have eaten my way North from Tennessee to Michigan and West to the Tex-Homa area, and if dumplins are on the menu, I try’em. Without question, Virginia Hall’s Chic n dump’s rein supreme!
Why the others wind up chewy or dry in the middle, I have no idea, but they can’t compare! If they get the dumps close, the liquid is all wrong!?
Although, i didn’t grow up there, I miss a lot of things from Coalfire Alabama.
Including the biggest, Redman chewingest Coca Cola drinkingest smile I ever had the pleasure of brightening my day!
Of course, he managed all the brightness with no teeth!? There is nothing more clear in my mind than Daniel Webster Hester wielding an ice pick and a green Tupperware cup with the white top, asking me if I wanted a Coke! “You bet Pop!!” Three chunks of ice and a fizzy mess later, I was sipping Coke and telling him about football! I will never know how that stiff, shaky hand managed to hit that cup so well? Not to mention the ice pick jabbing? I just knew he was gonna miss?
All good stuff tho!
Remind me to plant a sweet gum tree and build a swing under it, asap! I hope there’s carpenter ants and a tree frog to keep my Great-Grand kids busy while I remember the good folks of Coalfire, AL!

Thanks for your comments. I enjoyed reading them, both on your grandmother and your grandfather. I hope you will come back again soon. Uncle

Ok, lets make that great-grandfather and of course, great-uncle, but I kind of feel like an uncle more than a great uncle. Good stuff, Robert, thanks again….

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