They debated which were the worst jobs. Smith nominated making the slaw because of the pervasive odor. “We grew the cabbages in our garden” to make slaw for 400. Les Smith would walk in the kitchen and say, “I hate this smell.”
Hartshorn disliked “taking the innards out of the turkeys,” which used to be picked up very early Friday morning in a semi-thawed condition. Flory had a crew of male retirees (Hartshorn, Smith, Glen Butte and more) who had to run warm water over the birds and pull the frosty gizzards, necks and other parts out.
Hartshorn recalls two near disasters. About two decades ago, they ran out of turkeys about 6 p.m. “We had a lot more people show up” than expected and perhaps carryout portions were too generous. “We made a quick call to Kroger. Kroger sliced ham. We immediately jumped in the car, zoomed over,” and grabbed the substitute meat. “Lo and behold, we had left the car running with the keys in it and the doors locked.” Rapidly summoned policeman Bill Dramann and a coat hanger saved the day. “People were disappointed it wasn’t turkey, but at least they had something.”
Likewise, at least 10 years ago, the turkey vanished before the ending hour. Nettnay says they bought every rotisserie chicken Kroger had. Most pieces were served to church members, who eat together after public diners leave.
The dinner “almost died out about eight years ago” due to lack of leadership. Longtime couples “were burned out. It’s a big job,” Nettnay says.
The fundraiser has evolved, going from a home to church operation. With stricter state health department rules, Judi Craig became a certified food handler and instructed other members about how to keep the meals safe.
According to Smith, “I ran around many times trying to find the best price for turkeys,” switching between Kroger, Crum turkey farm and the former Batesville IGA. For the last six years, boneless turkeys have been purchased from Kopps, Harrison, Ohio.