|Lucy "Mama Lucy" Lanier (1898-1996)|
My grandmother Lucy Callins-Lanier was the middle child of George and Lucy Callins of Dallas Co, AL. One of her qualities is that she was very strong willed woman. While she was living in Alabama she practiced Midwifery and herbal medicine. She delivered over 200 African-American children all over the county. When two of her children were born very prematurely, she nursed them to health by creating a heated incubator made of a box and using old fashioned cast irons. When one of her daughters was born with a leg deformation, she was told by the doctor that she would never walk. My grandmother made a makeshift brace for her legs, worked with my aunt and she learned to walk without even the use of as much as a cane! Both of these children are living today.
During the 1950's she and most of her children and some of her grandchildren relocated from Alabama to New York. She didn't stop working once she came to New York. Once in New York, she and three other southern ladies worked tirelessly selling homemade cakes, pies and other southern sweets to raise money to found the only Black Baptist Church in the Town of Highlands. They named this church Saint Mark's Missionary Baptist Church. Mama Lucy held many positions at the church including Treasurer, President of the Missionary Board, and finally Mother of the Church until her health began to fail in the early 1990's.
The grandmother I knew was firm and loving. She didn't say too much, but always offered a meaningful word of wisdom or encouragement at just the right time. She was a wonderful cook, especially her desserts. Our family favorite dessert was her delicious Tea Cakes.
Though Mama Lucy has been gone for 16 years, her spirit is still strong in our family. In honor of her memory, I have included a recipe for real southern Tea Cakes. (Courtesy of About.com)
Simple Southern Tea Cakes
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 2 3/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preparation:Combine the sugar and butter in a mixer bowl, beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Shape cookie dough into small balls. Arrange on a cookie sheet. Press flat with the flat bottom of a glass. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.
Makes 3 dozen.