Decades old Abilene school cookbook resurfaces

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ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- Love it or hate it, Cafeteria food is a key part of growing up in the United States. For many Abilene area kids the memories of Frito-Pie, peach cobbler, and steak fingers bring to mind the smiling faces of the cafeteria staff that so lovingly prepared their meals.

In the early 60s a group known as the Abilene School Food Service Association put their favorite recipes into a book. A book that many Abilene families still own.

Dusty Hudgins grew up in Abilene in the 60s and 70s. His mother Florice Worked in AISD food preparation for 10 years during that time. Hudgins says that between Travis, Taylor, Madison and Mann elementary. His mother was well known for her disposition.

Florice Hudgins in the 1980s

“She had a sense of humor and she never met a person she didn’t like.” Says Hudgins.

She passed away in 2005 and he was recently going through boxes of her belongings when he came across the cookbook.

“And i thought there might be some other people in Abilene that might be interested in seeing this” Said Hudgins.

over 500 likes and comments proved him right. From all over the big country and even out of state, former AISD students were clamoring for another taste of the childhood they remembered.

Each of the recipes is attributed to the person that contributed it. So if you attended any of the schools during this time. You might see a familiar name on the page.

“Somebody’s grandmother might be in there or great grandmother. and they think oh i remember her cookies i remember her cake. and there it is” Hudgins Said.

One such name that can be found is that of Nova Johns. Nova was a long time Abilene food preparation worker and the kitchen manager for Abilene High during the 60s.

“Before meemaw came along they called it food preparation. after she came along that’s when they started calling it cooking.” Said Nova’s granddaughter Karyn Johns.

Nova was well known for her disposition and dedication to the students as well. According to her granddaughter she took a special interest in the Abilene High Eagles. Cooking them a pan fried steak dinner before many of the games.

“That woman, she lived to cook for people. The high school students were all part of her family especially those football boys. She took great pride in sending them out on the field with a nice steak dinner before each game.” Karyn Says.

Her Grandmothers recipes can be found among many others in this still rather mysterious book.

“There’s no publishing date there’s no publisher and this organization that’s listed on there I can’t find anything on them.” Said Hudgins.

Hudgins hopes to find the original publisher or printer so that he can re-print the book and sell them, with benefits going to Abilene kids today that need money for school lunches. He wants to help others just the way his mom did.

“Me going to school I think was just a good excuse for her to work in the cafeteria and to feed people” Says Hudgins.

But until he can find out more about the books origins, it will remain a tightly bound collection of knowledge, notes, and stains that remind him of the caring woman his mother was.

Hudgins’ copy of the Cookbook

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