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On Sunday, February 28, 1915, Lena Mae Whiteside Howerton was born just outside of Gentry, Arkansas. It must have been early that morning because the March 5 issue of the Gentry Journal Advance reported that she had been born late Saturday evening on the 27th. Among other items in the newspaper the week of her birth were: an Ozark farmer who built a house at the cost of $2.00! Examination Week at the High School and an article about how to plant strawberries. Exciting times in the little town.

birth lena

Grandma was well loved by her parents and older brothers. I think she might have been a little spoiled by them too. She always had a sweet disposition though throughout her life. I never heard her say a cross word about anyone, and she was usually smiling.

She started school at Gentry a year early because her cousin Clara, who was a year older, was beginning school.When she was in the 5th grade she was sick and missed school on her birthday. While looking through her childhood scrapbook I found this birthday card from her teacher Mrs. Highfill.


I also found two other birthday cards. One from Hazel Johnson*:

bd card 2

And one from Dad and Mother:


I am also blessed to have her diary. She didn’t keep it up for very long, just a couple of years. But on her 20th birthday, in 1935, she said, “Another birthday, I am about to feel old. Mother fixed me a good dinner. Sherman came tonight. We listened to the radio.” She would marry Granddad Sherman a year later.

Grandma and Granddad had one child, my mother, Barbara. I know she was as sweet a mother, as she was a grandmother. That was her most important job. But she also worked as a seamstress at Patterson’s in Siloam Springs and her and Granddad owned the little store “Howerton’s Grocery”. It was on North Mount Olive Street in Siloam Springs.

She was always busy making something. Grandma made a lot of our clothes, and she loved to quilt. In the 1980’s, she took up crocheting dolls and toys and sold them on consignment at a store in Fayetteville.

After Grandad passed away, Mom and Dad built her a little house behind theirs in Gentry. It was just the perfect size for her, and she was very happy there. She lived in her cozy home several years, and it was a joy to know that she was lovingly taken care of by my parents. She died in 2002 at the age of 87.

Today, I wanted to share a recipe for a cake and some frosting from an old cookbook named “Table Talk”. I think it was first printed in the late 1920’s, although this is a later edition. Grandma used it often; it has fallen apart and is very worn. I picked out a cake recipe called “Queen of Sheba,” it is NOT the fancy Julia Child Queen of Sheba cake. It’s a lot “homey-er”. The frosting is Mocha Icing, and it is yummy! I did try out both of he recipes, and the cake is good too! I would have posted a picture of my tribute birthday cake for Grandma Lena…but I ran out of frosting, and it looked a little sad! So I would suggest making a batch and a half of the frosting.
Here’s the recipes:

4 tablespoons of Cocoa
1 cup of sweet milk
4 egg yolks
¾ cup of butter
2 cups of sugar
2 ¼ cups of pastry flour (cake flour)
3 teaspoons of baking powder
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Cook the milk and cocoa together until smooth; then pour the hot mixture over well-beaten egg yolks and mix thoroughly; add slightly melted butter to the sugar and pour the chocolate mixture over it and beat with a wire whip until smooth; sift flour and baking powder together and fold into the mixture, using the wire whip for the mixing. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites and vanilla flavoring. Pour the batter in two buttered and floured layer cake tins. ( I just used cooking spray.) Bake for 40 minutes in a moderate oven 350 degrees. The cake is done when it begins to pull away from the edges of the tin. Invert the tins on a cooling rack and leave for five minutes before removing the cake.

6 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons hot coffee
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons of cocoa
Cream butter. Add sifted dry ingredients. Blend with hot coffee. Beat until of spreading consistency.

* Here’s a link to learn a little more about Hazel


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