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Jean Cravens shares memories of the 40s

Jean is one of the best story tellers in the world. A natural. We all ought to be writing down every memory she has. Today, one day after her 88th birthday, she shares a few of them on a lot of subjects: Home made "10-below" ice cream in ice cube trays. Favorite teachers - Gender inequities, and finding reverse. A country compliment. And Arthur Lee's slippery taffy. -- Ed Waggener
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By Wilma Jean Waggener Cravens

We didn't have a lot of ice cream when I was growing up on Jamestown Street. Rarely was it from the store, even then. Mom would make it at home.

I remember she would buy a mix - I think it was called "10-Below"- and stir it into milk, then pour it into one or two of those aluminum ice trays, which I think came with the Frigidaire, with the pull handles, which did a fair job of separating the cube. The cubes of ice cream would be served in small dessert cups. I think we had one or two cubes for a serving as dessert or as a mid afternoon snack. At the time, it tasted as good as any ice cream I've since eaten.

Influential Teachers
I remember Mary Richards as one of my favorites. She taught math and algebra at Columbia High School. During the War, she had been the head teacher or principal - and basketball coach - at Knifley High School, and got raves, she did.

But after the war, when the soldiers came home, the board decided that the job at Knifley should go to a man. After all, Demaree Richards, Mary's husband, was a successful contractor; that meant her family wasn't as dependent on the income. Naturally, with the job change, there also came a pay cut. The thinking of men in those days was women didn't have to make as much as a man, regardless of their performance.

She never complained to the students when she began teaching in town. But Knifley's loss was our gain. She was a wonderful algebra and math teacher.

Berniece Flowers was also another favorite. She could make history come alive for us, and she had wonderful stories to share. My favorite was her story of Dr. Woodruff Flowers, her husband, and the first car he bought to use in his medical practice. She said that Dr. Flowers mastered all the elements of driving except using the reverse gear. So all his early trips were planned so he never had to back up. Instead, he would travel to the next place where the road was wide enough to change directions by going forward, even if it meant driving to the next town.

Country compliments

A neighbor of my mother-in-law, Fronia Cravens, saw me after my second child was born, and gave me a compliment I'll never forget. She told me that I was looking good. "You are so pretty," she said, on one of our frequent trips from Indianapolis to Sano, "I do believe you've fleshened out a good bit, haven't you?" she asked. And indeed, I had. Being skinny wasn't the ideal for beauty in those days.

Secretly reading risque literature on the mezzanine in Knifley

I remember, too, the first experience I had reading forbidden and risque literature on the balcony or mezzanine on the upper level at the L.R. Chelf Store in Knifley. The store sold magazines, and it was Uncle Marshall's job to send the covers back for returns and refunds, the publishers paid on copies which didn't sell. The bulk of the magazines - all but the covers - were tied in bundles and stored in ricks around that balcony - for what purpose I don't know. Maybe and inspector came around from time to time to audit those returns and make sure they weren't resold at a discount or otherwise unlawfully disposed. My cousin Louise and I were allowed to go to the storage area, carefully remove them one at a time and read them.

Some of the magazines, the adult romances, were off limits. Of course we read those, all the way through, even the lurid, highly sensual climax, the final paragraph, which would read, "And finally they gave in to their passions, looked deeply into each others eyes, and held hands."

That was the x-rated equivalent, for the day.

Arthur's taffy

A lot of the kids from my time growing up on Jamestown Hill probably remember Arthur Lee's efforts at making taffy. Candy bars, even at a nickel a bar, were an out of reach luxury for most of the neighborhood kids.

So it was that when Arthur Lee made his first batch of taffy, there were eager takers when he offered to share.

It wasn't the usual taffy experience. It had a whole different texture, and almost made you swallow quickly whether you were wanting to savor longer or not. In fact, everyone commented, on how slippery it was.

Later, the reason came out. The recipe called for Crisco, but Mother was out. Arthur improvised with lard, and that's what made it so slippery, we decided. Didn't matter. We were craving anything sugary, and his lardy-lordy-taffey had plenty of that, and was quickly devoured.

This story was posted on 2018-05-06 14:06:37
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Jean Cravens celebrates 88th birthday amid memorial poppies

2018-05-06 - Indianapolis, IN - Photo by Beth Ann Cravens.
My little mommy, Jean (Waggener) Cravens , completed her 88th year on this earth yesterday. Here she is admiring her poppies that her late son and daughter-in-law, Phil and Sue Cravens, planted 30 years ago. I don't know how it's possible, but I love her more each and every day. This family is so very blessed to have her. How wonderful life is with her in the world. She is definitely loved! - Beth Ann Cravens

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