Jerri Thomas, Donnie Bethel, Ronnie Bethel, Penny and Robin Burruss, Renee and Ken Davis, Victoria and Joe Chastain, Lillian and Buddy Darden, Patricia and Chuck George, Betty Godwin, Jean and Mack Henderson, Dan McCall, Wyman Pilcher, Mary Ansley Sutherland, and Dee Dee Zachary stopped by to wish Miss Jeannette a happy birthday.
I can remember the first time I met Miss Jeannette at the “old” Kroger shopping center on Whitlock Avenue and she struck up a conversation with me. She was looking for Paul Newman’s dressing for Mrs. Burruss for whom she worked. I was intrigued by Miss Jeannette from the beginning and later found out through conversation with a mutual friend who she was.
When I began writing feature stories for the Marietta Daily Journal, Miss Jeannette was the first person that came to my mind — her reputation as a fabulous cook preceded her. At age 88, she agreed to let me write about her fried chicken even though we could have talked about her pound cakes or her collards or mac-n-cheese or just about anything she cooked — it was all good. I still have the interview saved on my tape recorder because I enjoyed our conversation so much.
We talked by phone for a long time that day and her wit and humor makes me smile as I remember the interview. Although she didn’t think there was anything particularly special about her fried chicken, she shared with me the details about how to prepare it. Miss Jeannette didn’t use a recipe, and I am still grateful to Helen Hines who helped to get it on paper.
Miss Jeannette said that the key to her fried chicken was using solid Crisco shortening and a cast iron pan. “I don’t fry chicken in these fancy new kinds of pans,” she said, “and I don’t use anything but White Lily Flour.” She also prefers a gas stove to an electric.
I can vouch that her chicken is the best because she sent me home with fried chicken and milk gravy the day we took the photos for her story. Though her fried chicken was wonderful, what I loved about Miss Jeannette was the story that went with it. She told me about her husband Joe, a musician who was the first African-American to play on WFOM radio. He also played at the old Marietta Country Club.
She also told me about her first job with “Doctor” Virgil and Louise Shaw Jones, who owned Jones Pharmacy when she figured out how to make biscuits. Miss Jeannette went on to work for other families in Marietta such as A.L. Burruss, Joe Mack Wilson, Justice Harris Hines, Ron Francis, Wyman Pilcher, Joe Chastain, Ansley Meaders, Red McGowan and more.
Happy birthday, Miss Jeannette!
Sally Litchfield is a longtime Marietta resident. She formerly practiced law in Marietta and now stays home to raise her two children. Send Sally news at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call Sally at (770) 425-8106.