Idella~ Chapter Four. By Abby Austin and Lauren Kern. Cross Creek Cookery. When Idella and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings were the only ones home, Marjorie would usually “bounce into the kitchen at any time to talk.” Marjorie and Idella often cooked dishes together just for fun.
By Abby Austin and Lauren Kern
One day, after Ms. Rawlings had been drinking, she decided she and Idella would go for a ride in the car. Idella tried to protest, but wasn’t successful. On a long curve in the road, the black convertible flipped. Marjorie was knocked out, and Idella broke a rib. In the weeks of her recovery, Idella stayed home. When Marjorie came to visit, Idella’s mother wouldn’t let her in. Marjorie pushed her to the side, went to the kitchen, and fixed herself a bowl of white beans with ham and rice. “Mama hated her more than ever after that.”
Marjorie was a feisty woman. One afternoon after having a series of cocktails, she decided she and Idella would go to the movies. The problem was, before 6:00 pm the theater was whites only. But of course, after a series of mouthing off and cussing at the workers, they were let into the theater. “To this day I couldn’t tell you what movie we saw, or who was in it. I just sat very still, frightened to death.”
There were times that Idella couldn’t take Ms. Rawlings anymore. At one point she moved up to New York and started working for a rich family that lived in the city. At first she was forced to cook things that seemed foreign to her, like broiled liver. But eventually she was asked to prepare a ham, which she fixed the Cross Creek way, and the family and friends loved it.
Idella eventually got a letter from Ms. Rawlings that she’d be in a hospital in New York. When she saw her, she was asked to come back to Cross Creek and work for Marjorie, and she did. Not just for Mama, but I think she felt sorry for Ms. Rawlings, too.
When Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was invited to the White House Idella drove her to the train station in Ocala. She wanted to send the first lady some flowers, so she packed some magnolias and moss into a bowl and sent it with Ms. Rawlings. A few weeks later, she got a letter from the first lady herself, personally thanking her for the flowers, although they hadn’t survived the trip. Mrs. Roosevelt was supposed to come to Florida, but had a last minute change of plans. Idella was disappointed, she had wanted to meet a first lady who had taken the time to personally thank a servant for some wilted flowers.
Life for the two of them in general went on happily for many years. Both of them had gotten married, and were still happily cooking and writing. One night they went into St. Augustine where Idella dropped Marjorie off at a party. Later Idella got sick, and Marjorie insisted she go to the hospital. She had to get her appendix taken out. She was in the hospital for six weeks recovering.
“To tell the truth, a good part of the time in the hospital was recuperating that I could have done at home, but she insisted that I stay. It became almost like a vacation with my family, Bernard, and friends from St. Augustine visiting frequently. When I finally left the hospital, I was completely well and ready to get back to work.”