Cooking Under Fire

Cooking Under Fire, taught by Jenny Kaywood, the southern powerhouse.

What comes to mind when you think about home economics teachers?  Usually, they are old fashioned, kindly, and efficient ladies, who cheerfully dispense the basics of cooking and homemaking.  Demurely, the teacher of the fifties and sixties would waltz around the classroom, checking on each of the two stoves (one gas and the other, electric) to see that nobody unwittingly scorched white sauce or sunk a cake.  That was the usual.  God love them all.

We began our foray into the home ec. Kitchen being taught by a screaming mee mee, Mrs. Jenny Kaywood.  To say that Mrs. Kaywood had a short fuse would be a major understatement.  She had the temperament of my Nana, absolutely.  A tireless taskmaster and a staunch perfectionist, no pan was out of place, no dish was unwashed and every young lady knew her job and her place.

How many toasted cheese sandwiches were dropped onto the tile floor when a girl would hear the familiar shriek, turn it over, turn it over right now, she would holler.  Spring time would find us scrubbing the chairs and the sofa in the adjoining parlor.  It could never be too clean or too orderly.

Thus, after school, mingling in the dorms, we would imitate Mrs. Jenny.  Genevieve Kaywood became Jenny Bee.  Our classic imitation phrase would be, girls, we are going to make pear salad.  God only knows why we chose pear salad, probably the sound of that phrase in a rich Kentucky accent titillated us.

We only had Mrs Kaywood for one year.  Thank goodness, otherwise, we might not have withstood the other gentler souls who taught home economics.  I am the good cook I am because of Mrs. Jenny Bee Kaywood. She didn’t tolerate slackers, and she would work with a student until it was just right.

Ellen Goldfon