Thursday, September 6, 2012

Farm Story 1 - The Greatest Generation

     A Story That Needs to Be Told

     Walking around our farm, one can't help but imagine what it would have been like 100 years ago.  What were the hopes and dreams of Mary and George Nelson Burnett?  Life as a farmer was hard.  Did they even have time to dream?  One realization comes to mind about this couple, my husband's grandparents, living and working on their farm.  Think about this. These farmers, and many more just like them, were the ones responsible for raising those that Tom Brokaw wrote so compellingly as our nation's greatest generation.  There is no dispute that the greatest generation of Americans sacrificed much to defend against international terror.  But lets take a step back. Who raised this brave generation of which the likes we may never see again in such large numbers?  Living on this farm and seeking its history has provided some clues.

     Each week we have dinner with Aunt Ethel, the sister of my husband's mother.  Since our farm is where she born and raised, our conversation would turn to different aspects of growing up on the farm. Herein lies the answer to the question.

A face of courage and kindness

     What is the story?  Ethel's mother, Mary Wesley Burnett, is a profile of courage. She was a young wife and mother of four children when tragedy struck.  Her husband left to work on a neighboring farm driving a team of horses and met his untimely death.  Unfortunately, a repaired set of reins gave way and he fell.  The real meaning of alone is when you suddenly have the burden of feeding and clothing four children, one who was only weeks old at the time and the oldest just five and a half. How do you run a farm by yourself with four small children? And, do it before the era of government assistance.  At this time neighbors were few and far between, and hitching up your horse and wagon was the way to go unless something was in walking distance.  Forget about a     grocery store.

Mary and her four children
     Where do you begin?  There wasn't electricity or running water, and heat came from a coal/wood burning stove. A modern family wouldn't have a clue how to provide for themselves under these conditions.  Inquiring as to how her mother ever managed, Ethel replied that her mother's response was that she said had no choice in the matter, there were four children to take care of (as well as crops and animals) and they were all depending on her.  And so she did courageously accept the responsibility without any outside help; crumbling under pressure was not an option.

    It was she and the many others of her era that raised the greatest generation through courageous example in the face of life's quite difficult hardships. No whining, no complaining that life is not fair; accept the cards as they are dealt and play them.  Only the likes of this generation could have raised "the greatest generation." This is where the story begins. More farm stories to follow as they come about through conversations.

A family recipe for today.

Aunt Ethel's Beef Supreme Casserole

1 Tbsp shortening                                                           2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb. ground chop meat ( can use ground turkey)             1 c. sour cream
1  16 oz. can tomatoes                                                   1  5 oz. pkg. medium noodles, cooked, drained
1   8 oz. can tomato sauce                                              6 green scallions, chopped
2 Tbsp. salt                                                                    1 cup grated Mozzarella
2 Tbsp sugar

     Melt shortening in pan.  Add meat, breaking it into chunks.  Cook until brown.  Drain off fat.
     Stir in tomatoes, sauce, salt, sugar, and garlic.
     Simmer 5 - 10 minutes.
     Mix sour cream, cooked noodles, and scallions.
     Pour small amount of meat sauce into greased 3 qt. casserole, then half of the noodle mixture, topped with half of the grated cheese.
     Repeat layers, topping with meat sauce.
     Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.
     Can be prepared ahead of time and frozen.

No comments:

Post a Comment