Memories of growing up on Cherry Lane
Mountain Tales: First-hand stories of life in Tehachapi
June 11, 2022
"My Momma loved a recipe. My favorite recipes in her collection are from the neighbors who lived up and down Cherry Lane in Tehachapi when I was a child growing up there in the 1940s and 50s. Cherry Lane was a dirt road then and my Momma dug a substantial ditch across it to slow down cars that sped by our home. When the offenders had their eyes opened by hitting the ditch and complained to Momma, she informed them, "It is a drainage ditch necessary to drain rain water off of Cherry Lane." Her attitude must have led them to believe their argument to fill up the ditch was futile. The ditch stayed, they reduced their speed, and I played safer on Cherry Lane.
In the recipe box is Aunt Fannie Estes Peach Cobbler. This recipe is appropriate to her as the Estes were Aunt and Uncle to Henry Hand and lived on Linda Vista Ranch. Uncle Lance was one of my favorite old gentlemen to spend time with on Cherry Lane. Henry grew the most delicious peaches, they had a beautiful red center, and when bottled the syrup would have a rosy pink tint to it. My first paying job, as a young girl, was picking and grading peaches in Henry's orchard.
Unforgettable BBQs on the Fourth of July
There are recipes in the box that were dictated by my Dad for my Mother to write down. My Dad was a terrific cook and he cooked most of our meals on a stove that was purchased new sometime before I was born, This Wedgewood Range is the only stove I remember, and my Dad was cooking on it up until he passed away. One of my favorite recipes of Daddy's was his sweet and sour sauce that he served over BBQ. On the Fourth of July, all of the Cherry Lane neighbors and other friends would usually gather on our patio for ribs and chickens cooked over coals from a fire my Dad had started earlier in the day. No briquettes for Hooks. There were always fresh roasting ears from Henry Hand's field to be dipped in a pan of melted butter. When the ribs and chicken were done they were immersed in a pot of Dad's sweet and sour sauce. I often make this sauce but it never quite measures up to the flavor achieved by the meats that were cooked over the wood BBQ in my Dad's patio.
My Mother bottled thousands of jars of fruits, vegetables, pickles, jams and jellies, all on the old Wedgewood Range. Sometimes using the open kettle method, filling the house with the sweet smell of jams and jellies or the pungent smell of vinegar and spices for pickles. Other times she would cold pack the fruit and process the jars in the canner placed on the old range. These jars were stored in the basement and contributed to our winter meals. The recipe box holds many of Momma's favorite canning recipes.
Cherry Lane was a wonderful place in the days of my childhood, whether I was playing in the orchard, hiking in the big field where a seasonal creek provided wading opportunities or visiting in the home of one of our neighbors. All of the Cherry Lane neighbors are gone now either passing away or moving on, but my memories often stray back to that time that I played and grew up on the "Lane."
– Laura Anderson Weltin