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School: you've gotta love it

By Linda Marcum Waggener

School is starting and I have family members who are delighted about it, some dread it, and some fear it. I worry about them, encourage them to stay the course and say prayers for them. And I remember how school can be awful. School is definitely hard. Negotiating with all the personalities can be the greatest challenge. But here's why I love school, continuing education, no matter the age, because directed study adds to and pulls things out of our brains that we weren't consciously aware were there.

I believe in life education. Frequently as a non-traditional student trying to finish degrees late in life, I'd be asked, "what are you doing going to college at your age?" The answer was, I love it. Not the process, necessarily, not tests, but the gained knowledge and the questions that cause thought.

And from thought I get to write and encourage others to write.

In one class, an assignment pulled up memories that I cherish and love rereading. It was in Folk Studies, Cultural Diversity in the US, with instructor Jim Browning, that the recipe below and its backstory got documented.

 Professor Browning, author of The Tie That Binds, an account of food’s integral part in the drama played out each time a rural Kentuckian passes from life to death, had his class bring a recipe that had meaning to their family and explain why. The resulting homework is shared below. I didn't know I remembered the recipe and why it meant so much, and now I wouldn't take anything for the snapshot the homework left me with.

Ed Waggener’s Scalloped Oysters

 Both mom and dad’s families have wonderful holiday feasts making it hard to single out just one recipe to share. This traditional favorite is a standout, however, because my husband Ed first created it with flair at holiday time when our sons were little, and while it cooked he read to them from Lewis Carrol who wrote the funny oyster saga in his Walrus and the Carpenter:

 ...'I weep for you,’ the Walrus said: ‘I deeply sympathize.’

With sobs and tears he sorted out those of the largest size,

holding his pocket-handkerchief before his streaming eyes.

‘O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter, ‘You’ve had a pleasant run! 
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none, 

and this was scarcely odd,
because they’d eaten every one.

 The Scalloped Oyster recipe which follows was handed down through Ed’s mother’s family, the Chelfs of Knifley, KY who were, according to Ed’s sister Jean Waggener Cravens, bakers of food, more than fryers of food as the Waggener side was more prone to be. Ed and his cousin/brother Bob Chelf often explained to their children, Pen and Tom Waggener, and Jenny and Amy Chelf, that Chelfs were different, reserved, quiet, solitary, studious, even yes, perhaps curious, but they loved fine food and good humor. And that’s what we had plenty of at holiday time in Columbia when Bob’s wife Andi and I would shop, organize, then stand back and enjoy as our good-dad husbands held court with the children. 


 2 or 3 cans of oysters (as many as you can afford)

 Old fashioned soda crackers

 Butter and half-and-half cream

 Worcestershire sauce & Tobasco sauce


 Grease a baking dish. (We use a Corning 6” x 6” x 3” size).

 Cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of crumbled crackers. Add pats of butter 1” apart on top of cracker layer. Add a layer of oysters (save the liquid aside). Douse with Tabasco, Worcestershire, and pepper to taste. Repeat above layering to fill pan up to within one layer from top of dish.

 Next, mix oyster liquid and half-and-half cream. Slowly and evenly pour over contents of pan until liquid is just visible on the sides, and contents of pan are well moistened. The last layer should be added, and then a final layer of cracker crumbs over the top. Moisten and smooth to form a cracker crust. Place very thin pats of butter on top.

 Bake in oven pre-heated to 350 degrees approximately 45 minutes, or until top is browned and crusty.

That's why I hope you'll keep going to school every day for life -- because directed study adds to and pulls things out of our brains that we weren't consciously aware were there, and the results can be wonderful.

This story was posted on 2017-08-11 12:16:29
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