Fellowship with a bit of baking on the side
“We’re having so much fun, we can’t hardly stand it.”
For the past 17 years, volunteers at Peabody Senior Center have been making fresh peppernuts, with laughter, storytelling, and catching up with each other, tossed in.
Volunteers bake 10 times, on Mondays and Thursdays, to produce enough peppernuts to sell to cover the center’s winter utility bills.
Judy Mellott, Pat Henderson, and Carolyn Rowland start the project off each baking day in the morning, mixing up the batter to have ready after lunch.
This isn’t just a double-the-recipe project. The ladies mix three big batches, which takes between 2-2½ hours.
Volunteers, including some of those eating lunch at the center, begin the production line-style process, waiting for the unbaked peppernuts to be formed and readied for baking.
Marion Rowland and the batter crew use specially-made peppernut “guns” to produce the small, pencil eraser-sized cookies.
The guns were made by a man in Durham a while ago. They are a combination of PVC pipe and a caulking gun.
Each large tray comes to the volunteers full of the batter balls that must be separated so they won’t stick together during baking.
Sharon Kessler manned the convection oven this year. She baked five trays at once for eight minutes then performed a “feel” test to determine if they were firm and ready to cool before packaging.
Along with baking prep work, volunteers can be heard chatting, laughing and teasing. Everyone interviewed said the main reason they continue to come back is because they have so much fun with each other.
“We’re having so much fun, we can’t hardly stand it,” volunteer Jim Cox said tongue-in-cheek.
These die-hard volunteers put in lots of hours — and they aren’t exactly young chicks, with a number of them being over 90 years old.
Sadie Decker, 101, continues to help with longtime comrade, Sally Matz, 95, and newcomer, Pam DeFisher.
Westview Manor resident Mimi Rous said, “I make friends here and they make me feel welcome.”
Other volunteers included Marilyn Cox, Hazel Smith, 92, Cynthia Gibbs, Sonja Koslowsky, and a number of kitchen staff.
Gibbs said this was her first year helping.
“They provided meals for me after I had surgery and now I’m ready to help pay them back,” she said.
Peabody-Burns fifth grade teacher Jennifer Young, and para- educator Megan Brown brought their class to see the peppernut process.
“I want them to see what’s going on and to get them involved in their community,” Young said.
Peppernuts can be purchased in a large bag for $9 and small for $5 at the Peabody Senior Center.
Last modified Nov. 8, 2018