Personal Archaeology: We’re Carnies

Cookhouse 2Yes, it’s true. I come from, as defined by Urban Dictionary, the “good, hardworking, trustworthy, honest, good-for-nothing, unreliable, foul-smelling vagrants” who man the traveling carnivals of the United States. My great-grandparents, Carolton and Ruth Mae Davis, operated a cook house and my grandfather would spend summers traveling with them.

You could get a meal, a Coca-cola and a pack of cigarettes, served with a smile, for about 50 cents. One of the more popular offerings was the Chicken Dumpling Soup. Here’s the “recipe” that’s been handed down, but never written down until today:

Boil chicken broth. Throw in some carrots or celery or both, or neither. Potatoes are good, corn is too. Onions? Sure, throw them in. Why not? Mix eggs and flour into a runny paste, then spoon drip into the broth to make the dumplings. Serve hot in big bowls.

It’s actually pretty damn tasty. Here’s some vintage pictures of the cookhouse taken in the early 1930’s:

My great grandfather was also a songwriter and singer, and worked the Vaudeville circuit as well, but more about that later.

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