Benning of Bullock County said she can’t imagine a single person in
her community who wouldn’t help her if she needed them to.
people act like they’re afraid to get their hands dirty by helping
folks. Those people aren’t here," she said of her Stills
she admits she didn’t get off to quite so cozy a beginning there.
I started seeing John, they couldn’t have asked me more questions if
they’d all been lawyers," Mary said of her late husband’s
friends and neighbors.
they were just being protective of him, and it wasn’t long before they
were as good to me as they were to John. We used to say we had more
honorary grandchildren than we could count," she commented.
said she never felt that sense of caring more than when her husband John
Benning passed away last August.
was so sad John was gone, but it was a joy to have so many people tell
me stories about what he had done to help them and what he meant to
them. He couldn’t have been any better to me, either. He was just a
wonderful man," said Mary.
she adds there’s no blessing quite like family.
just real good to me," Mary said of her children and their
stays the night with me every night, and during the day I take care of
Lizzy, one of my great-grandchildren, and that’s been a help to
me," Mary said.
didn’t grow up cooking, despite the fact her mother made a living
worked in a café, but she always said nobody would want to buy what I
had messed over," Mary joked, and she said John and his friends
have been a major influence on her cooking.
always had people around the house with us, and he knew who the best
cooks in the community were. So he’d manage to get them to cook
something at the house and have me and whoever else was around sit on
the kitchen stools and watch," remembered Mary.
addition to her time spent in the kitchen, she and John always had a
large garden with plenty of vegetables, but she’s not sure how much
she plans to plant this year.
have me a few tomatoes and peppers and some pods of okra, but no big
garden like John and I had," stated Mary.
since her daughter-in-law Rhonda Dease works at the Pike Farmers Co-op,
there’s no need to wonder where Mary will look for her gardening
has her own family, but Rhonda’s just as much a daughter to me as
anyone could be," said Mary.
addition to spending time with her grandchildren and
great-grandchildren, Mary has a little traveling in mind.
have a sister in New York and a cousin in Jacksonville, Florida, I’d
like to visit," she said.
Mary also plans to carry on the tradition of having a fish fry around
did it for years every November as a sort of birthday party for him, and
we’ve done it in his honor since he passed. He was a marvelous man,
and it’d be hard not to have a good life when you share it with such a
good mate," Mary said.
Some of the recipes
Mary shares reflect her fish fry tradition, like her Hush Puppies, Onion
Rings and Super Coleslaw, and any meal would be a little sweeter when
finished with her Sour Cream Pound Cake.