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Chuck Hinman. IJMA No. 067: Master Lemon Pie Baker
It's Just Me Again No. 067 Thelma Drumb: Master Lemon Pie Baker About a woman who, Robert Stone says, "Understood The Adair County Way even though she lived far away."
The next earlier Chuck Hinman: Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Evening Chores Is Chuck Hinman your favorite Sunday with CM columnist, as many tell us? If so, we hope you'll drop him a line by email. Reader comments to CM are appreciated, as are emails directly to Mr. Hinman at: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Chuck Hinman
"Hello Chuck. This is Thelma Drumb. I have a lemon-meringue pie just out of the oven. I was wondering if you want to come by and pick it up for you and Connie. It doesn't look very good and if you throw it out, you won't hurt my feelings."
Fat chance me throwing out anything prepared by that marvelous cook and baker of lemon pies!
That conversation was repeated dozens of time over the few years I knew Thelma Drumb. She adopted Connie and me when she found out that Connie had Alzheimer's Disease and that I was her caregiver and admittedly a miserable cook. I suppose she knew of us through her sister Ruth Weldon who fixed Connie's hair. Somehow she learned that lemon-meringue pie was my favorite pie and she "just happened" to be a master at making these pies. She was a native of Tuttle, Oklahoma, but had lived in McAlester for sixty-five years, enjoying a reputation there as a superb cook, before moving to Bartlesville in later years to be near her son, Doug Drumb, and sister, Ruth Weldon, and their families.
My mouth started salivating the minute I hung up the phone and headed for her house on Harvey Road. She began apologizing the minute she answered the doorbell. She always had the pie tied inside several layers of plastic bags. I had to cut the bags open with a knife to extract the marvelous pie, still warm from the oven. The meringue was "heavenly" in a word. Lord of mercies, did that woman ever know what she had created! It was close to sinful!
I don't know how much mileage I have gotten telling friends about this "woman" named Thelma who had my telephone number and was always "bugging" me to help get rid of her fresh baked lemon meringue pies. I enjoyed seeing my friends' mouths gape when I said I told her "Old woman, get off my back! Don't you know I just hate fresh baked lemon meringue pie -- so quit calling me!"
And then I burst out laughing and relaxed the tension on my friends' faces when they realized I was just kidding!
I lost track of Thelma after Connie passed away and Thelma moved. I saw the death notice in the paper last night [June 2006] and immediately knew it was Thelma Drumb who was always "pawning off" her fresh-baked lemon pies on Connie and Chuck Hinman.
Rest in peace, Thelma Drumb, Master Lemon Meringue Pie Maker. You did good!
This story was on display at a local funeral home at visitation in early June, 2006.
Editorial comment: I found Ms Drumb's obituary and sent it to Chuck. He called me and said that he did not know about all the things she had done before she moved to Bartlesville. Here is part of that account of her life from The McAlester News-Capital, Thursday, 8 June 2006. When I read it, I said, this lady understood "The Adair County Way" although she lived far away. -RHS>Thelma Mozelle (Douglass) Drumb, 94, died Monday, May 29, 2006, at her home.
Funeral services were in McAlester with her nephew, Noel Weeks (Ruth Weldon's son), of Bartlesville, officiating.
She was born on Sept. 9, 1911, in Tuttle. At 6 week of age, she traveled with her family via covered wagon to Pittsburg County, living in Haywood, Celestine, Hartshorne, and Krebs before her family settled in McAlester where she lived from 1924 until 1990, when she moved to Bartlesville to be near her family, Doug and Shirley Drumb.
She graduated from McAlester High School in 1929, and worked for S.H. Kress until her marriage to William (Bill) Drumb on Nov. 28, 1931. She took an active interest in every phase of the growth and history of North McAlester, becoming known as the unofficial mayor and historian of the area.
She served as president of the Edmond Doyle PTA, where her three children attended grade school. She was a member of the Second Baptist Church, served as the church clerk, was president of the Women's Missionary Union, Sunday school teacher, choir member and officer in its various organizations. She began the first Girl's Auxiliary and Royal Ambassadors programs at the church and took the first group of youth from Second Baptist Church to the Kiamichi Baptist Camp. She later moved her membership to the First Baptist Church of McAlester where she continued attending, singing in the choir and teaching the Adult Women's Class.
After raising her children, she completed cosmetology training in 1953, and established her own business, Drumb's Beauty Salon, becoming a member of the "Thunderbirds," a state hair fashion committee organization of qualifying hairdressers and salon owners. She was a longtime member in the McAlester Business and Professional Women's Club and continued working until moving to Bartlesville. She was also a lifetime member in the Rebekah Lodge of McAlester and had held all of the officer's chairs of the lodge during her active years of membership.She organized the Old Town Fair in which the whole town took part with entertaining planned from morning to evening. Then Gov. George Nigh was in attendance and presented Thelma with a plaque recognizing her as "The Woman of the Year." She and her husband were instrumental in starting the annual North Town Reunion Picnic, which began at Juniper Point in 1976, and has now moved to Hutchison Park in North McAlester. The picnic and fair continues to meet in October of each year.
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