ALOHA DEAR KALOKA FAMILY,
My mother, she was the BEST mother and an amazing woman! The earliest and most favorite childhood memories are of mother always in the kitchen either canning, cooking or baking something delicious and yummy for us to eat! The best time of the year for her baking were during November and December, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The fragrance that would come floating out of the kitchen was just dreamy! Cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and chocolate made for a fabulous aroma throughout the day. Ginger bread men and ginger bread houses were made for me to decorate with all sorts of candies, marshmallows and colored sprinkles. I loved being in the kitchen with my mother. On my little wooden stool, I would stand, so that I could reach the counter to help decorate. She would always let me lick the beaters and the spatula when she was finished mixing! I loved my mother!
When I was 5, we lived in Citrus Heights, CA., on a small farm. Mother wanted to start her own home baking business. She called it Karol’s Kountry Kitchen. That year, she started to make fruitcake from a recipe that her mother had crafted. Mother changed it up a bit and by the end of the year she had baked and sold 460 pounds of fruitcake, with the help from my father of course. She called it
“Aunt Merle’s Old-Fashioned Fruitcake” in honor of her mother. Her fruitcake would eventually be sold all over the world!
Mother was a VERY hard worker as was my father. One year, when I was small, mother said she and father set a record for the most canned goods from father’s garden and orchard: 42 quarts of green beans, 68 quarts of apricots, 50 quarts of peaches, 50 quarts pears, 60 quarts tomato juice, 27 pints dill and sweet pickles, 21 pints pineapple (sent over from Hawaii), 10 batches of jelly (rhubarb, apricot, grape and strawberry), and 30 pints of tuna fish. That was a fun trip going to the fish market and buying a huge whole tuna fish that father loaded into the back of our station wagon!
Mother was also a substitute teacher until she was hired on part-time to teach Geography. She would have rather taught Home Economics, her college major, but those full- time teaching positions were hard to come by. She would eventually be hired on full time, at Del Paso High School in Sacramento, CA. teaching Home Economics and she loved every minute of it! Even with her busy schedule she still baked 4-6 pies a day. Some days she added chocolate sheet cakes, lemon and cherry tarts and cherry jubilee for 2 restaurants, 1 store and for friends. Every year mother was always called upon to be a judge at all the California County and State Fairs. She judged 4-H foods and 4-H clothing, plus all other canning, foods and sewing divisions. It was an exciting day when mother judged the women’s dessert division. The dessert items from Best of Show and Blue-ribbon winners, that were not displayed, were all brought home for us to enjoy! But none were as tasty as mother’s.
Mother was an incredible seamstress too! She always looked like she came right out of a magazine. Mother was very beautiful and very stylish! She always wore make-up, matching necklaces and ear rings with all of her outfits. We would drive to San Francisco so she could buy beautiful fabrics to make her clothes from. She made all of my clothes too, and my Church clothes, even into my high school years. Like mothers’ family, Church was never debated in our home either, and she made sure that during the summer we always attended Vacation Bible School.
Starting in junior high school, I longed for a pair of store bought jeans, just like all the other girls were wearing. “No,” mother would say, “you will dress like a young lady.” We moved from Citrus Heights when I was in the 6th grade, to Penn Valley, CA., to our 10-acre farm. Mother made me a very special
3-piece ensemble to wear on my first day of school. Deep purple velvet pants, matching purple vest with a white long sleeve shirt with ruffles at the wrists. Needless to say, everyone had jeans on and I sure stuck out and continued to in my petit four dresses and pant suits. I wanted to be stylish like mother but I was way too lanky!
(Church Clothes) (Mother and I in our Purple outfits)
Mother jumped right in with community involvement and hit the ground running. She connected with the Penn Valley Women’s Auxiliary to the Fire Department and Thrift Store. During her and father’s 22 years of living in Penn Valley, mother became president of the Auxiliary for several years. She headed up their fundraising efforts organizing fashion shows, monthly pancake breakfasts, using her fantastic home-made pancake batter. She did all the flipping of them too! She also made quilts, wreaths, floral Christmas center pieces, all for the Auxiliary’s Christmas Bazaar’s. She also headed up the weekly sewing bee with 7 local ladies, making hand-made gift items for the next year’s fundraisers. Plus, every year mother and the Women’s Auxiliary helped with the yearly Penn Valley event, the famous Penn Valley Rodeo, to raise money for the Fire Department. Mother also made pies for the Tack Room in Penn Valley. She shared a story that was told to her by an employee. One-day Marie Calendar was visiting our little town and stopped by the Tack Room for lunch. Once finished, everyone in the restaurant wanted her to try one of mother’s famous pies. She declined, even when she was offered a slice free of charge! “Her loss,” the waitress said, Carol, everyone knows your pies are way better than her’s anyway!”
(Mother in a Fashion Show) ( Handmade Items for the Auxiliary's Bazaar)
Mother and father had a contractor add a bakeshop onto our home. Having the extra ovens, kitchen counter space and storage made it easier for mother and father to bake for 4-5 restaurants, the Lake Wildwood Country Club, and The Health Food Store in Grass Valley. Plus, the many friends who wanted to buy her most excellent pies, cakes, cookies, fruitcake, and of course her home-made bread and cinnamon rolls. During my sophomore year, in my Home Economics class, several teachers were discussing the need to hire another Home Economics teacher. I told them about mother and they were very interested in her baking and sewing skills. Mother applied for the full-time position and was hired straight away. She taught for 4 years at Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley plus a few extra classes at Empire High School. Mother loved her students and she loved teaching them how to bake and sew. One of mother’s most favorite cooking classes were her senior boy’s foods! What stories mother would tell of trying to teach the football and basketball senior boys how to cook! Mother did share that the boys were actually better cooks than her girls! She always had a funny story to tell at the dinner table, especially about the pranks that her boys played on her! At first, she was not too happy being locked in the food pantry, but after being released, they all had a good laugh! Or the time that mother was grading papers at her desk, when from the back of the classroom she heard, “41-42 hike” and a hot biscuit spiral whizzed past her head. Then there was the time the basketball players pretended to shoot free-throws into a large baking pot with the pumpkin muffins that they had just made. The boys even made up a song about it. Later, she always told of seeing her graduated students at the Nevada County Fair or in local stores. They would always tell her how much they enjoyed her class and that they still kept and used all of her recipes! In my senior year, I was in Girls Ensemble. That year the Boys Chorus and Girls Ensemble were chosen to represent Northern California at a Singing Cultural Exchange Fiesta in Mexico. Of course, mother volunteered to help with the fundraising by selling her famous fruitcake. The orders just kept coming in and coming in! All totaled, our family helped make and deliver 2,500 pounds of fruitcake WHEW!
( Mother's yearbook picture Nevada Union High School)
In 1981, mother retired from teaching and she and father started on their new adventure of being distributors for Forever Living Products. They did quite well and sold their Penn Valley farm and moved to Phoenix, Az. close to my father’s younger brother. Mother got involved with the Welcome Wagon and baked for everyone, while father gardened. After a few years of the summer Arizona heat they moved to Dayton NV. Mother and father were in their mid-70’s and enjoyed travelling to Hawaii, Oklahoma and Texas to visit family. Plus, visiting me and my family in California and my brother and his family in Utah. Now both in their late 70’s, it was time for another move. Mother always loved the snow, father did not, but when mother wanted to move to Utah to be by their 2-new grand-daughters, father agreed. They were the best grandparents! Besides babysitting, mother and father still gardened and canned and mother continued to bake for friends in the neighborhood. They attended a local Christian Church and helped out when called upon.
I could go on and on, but I want to share mother’s attributes and what I learned from her. Mother was very smart, very professional, strong willed, disciplined, outgoing, kind, loving, helpful and always generous to everyone she met.
She taught me:
1. The Golden Rule
2. Family comes first
3. Good Manners
4. Respect your elders and those in authority.
5. Sharing, especially with those less fortunate.
6. Be kind and considerate.
7. Work Hard
8. “If there is a will there is a way.”
9. The gift of Hospitality.
10 “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.”
I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU MOM AND DAD! I WILL SEE YOU AGAIN IN HEAVEN!
MELE KALIKIMAKA HAOLE MAKA HIKI HOU!
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING MOTHER’S BEAUTY BODY BUTTER!
BLESSINGS TO YOU ALL! Renee LUKE 2:8-14