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Jeanne Newby

July 3, 2024

My family, mostly cousins, has been having so much fun recently after I started the Woodworth Family Page on Facebook. We have been sharing pictures, memories and family recipes. It was slow in taking off, but now the information just flows.

The use of modern technology is making correspondence among family members so easy and so informative. We don’t have to worry about letting precious family photos leave our sight. We just share them via the Internet. I have seen some wonderful pictures of grandparents when they were young, cousins when they were being silly and pictures of babies being added to the family.

Memories among a large group always seem to vary. It is fun to read what others thought of certain situations. And with family being raised all over the United States, it gives us a different perspective of family life.

I started sharing my grandmother’s recipes, triggering a comment from a cousin about being raised with different foods in different states. Here’s what he wrote:

Jeanne and Helen’s recipes have prompted me to reflect on the degree to which my own palate has been shaped by my parents and my parents’ parents. Dad left Missouri for good at age 19, and I can’t say that Southern cuisine had much of an influence on our family eating habits going forward. My mother came from Utah, and she was the one who did most of the cooking. We didn’t see things like grits and fried okra. We were more likely to eat things like homemade granola, green salad, and steamed rice.

They say you can take the boy out of the country but you can never take the country out of the boy. That was true of my dad. I first became aware that he had an alternate palate when we drove out to Missouri to see Grandma every summer when I was a kid. At her apartment, Dad would invariably ask his mother to make biscuits and gravy for him. He said it was his favorite food of all. She loved doting over him in this way. The running joke in our family was that Dad could only get biscuits and gravy when he went home to Missouri. My mother refused to make it because she worried it would clog his veins and arteries!

Grandma’s kitchen was my first introduction to biscuits and gravy. It became a kind of luxury good that I only had once a year. Later, when I became an adult, I started ordering biscuits and gravy at pancake houses and eventually began making it myself at home. I started calling it my favorite food, just as my father had done before me. Fortunately for me, my wife was a willing participant. Shawna’s grandmother was born in Texas and her ancestors came from Alabama. Salt pork gravy was something all the women in the family made and appreciated. After we started having kids, biscuits and gravy became part of our breakfast rotation. I make the biscuits and Shawna the gravy. Now my son, Ben, calls it his favorite food just as his grandfather and father did before him.

Last week, on Ben turned 10, we made him breakfast in bed, which is the tradition for all birthdays in our family. We made him biscuits in the shape of his name and a batch of gravy. It is the same breakfast we have made for him on his birthday for three years running. Grandma’s legacy lives on!

I have shared recipes for my mom’s chicken and homemade noodles, Grandma’s date pudding and many other family treasures. Mom shared the story of Dad being in the hospital (2005) for a long time and the scary feeling that he wasn’t going to make it. He wouldn’t eat, and he told Mom that he didn’t like the food. (Dad wouldn’t even eat at restaurants because it wasn’t Mom’s cooking.) So Mom went home and made a pot of potato soup. She carried it back to the hospital and Dad ate that whole pot of potato soup. She said she did this several times and eventually Dad was able to come home and overcame a serious situation. Mom feels for certain that a taste of home helped him to survive. (Sadly, Dad did pass away in February 2010, but we love this family story.)

Stories like these are traveling the internet as my cousins, brother, sisters, kids and grandkids are joining in on our Woodworth Family Page and sharing our family history. We are getting our genealogy up to date as cousins share births, deaths, and important facts. Yes, it is great to mentally live in the good ole days, but oh my goodness, what a joy to have modern technology to record and relive these precious memories.

I keep a family timeline and I may share that on my family page. There are all kinds of information to share with family, and how neat to have a family reunion without leaving home. Some are online every day. Others just walk in casually for a few minutes and share a tidbit or two. Some are watching but haven’t stepped in to comment, but they will eventually. Right now we have 52 family members sharing information, with that number growing daily. I can’t wait to check each day and find out what new family story is circulating. We are getting to know cousins we would see at reunions and visit with but never get to truly know them and their family.

If you are worried about putting family information out on the internet, our family page is a closed group that only those invited can join. And only members of the group can read the information. It isn’t like airing your dirty laundry for the world to see!

I am not saying this would work with all families, but I did want to share with you the fun that my family is having. So share a memory, a photo, a recipe, or just say hello to family and friends online or in a letter!

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.