Good-bye to Scootch Blog (#7)

Food is more than important at the Game Loft, it is vital to our program. When you walk through the door at 2:15 you can’t stop yourself, you sniff the air. The wonderful mix of aromas says someone has been cooking all morning in preparation for the day’s meal. When you enter the kitchen you see wheels of fresh fruit and vegetables cut into portions and arranged attractively on plates. Take some. Take a lot, the fruits and vegetables are here to nourish you. The water is fresh and cold in the dispenser. The entrée is bubbling on the stove. And behind it all is Scootch, our dear friend, waiting to serve you. Who could resist this kind of welcome? The bounty is here every day--- fresh, inviting, appealing. It was made by loving hands and is offered to every kid who comes through the door. Take a deep breath because that is the scent of love.

Scootch, our kitchen manager is leaving at the end of December. She will add the Game Loft to her long and varied list of accomplishments. In her lifetime she has been a river guide, a congressional aide in Washington, a radio announcer, a mother and grandmother, a consultant in solid waste management, a youth worker, a writer, a story-teller, and a baker’s assistant. There are probably many more things that she has done, and done well, over her long career. Stop by before she leaves. She tells stories brilliantly and has a storeroom of them in her mind. At the Loft she organized our kitchen and pantry and created systems for our food service. She helped us become members of the USDA food services programs, CACFP and SFSP, which meant learning “bureaucratize” and translating it for the rest of us. She supervised kitchen volunteers and made lots of new friends for the Loft, but most of all she nurtured and nourished our kids

I met Scootch when we were doing the 1960’s project called “Days of Rage”. We had asked community members to come forward with their memories about life in the 1960’s. Scootch called in response to a newspaper article I had written. I was immediately mesmerized by her voice. She has a mellifluous voice. It is a smoky voice that insinuates itself in your mind and makes you smile long after she has finished speaking. It is the voice that got her a job reading pork belly prices on the radio in her native Idaho where an angry listener called the station to complain that “she reads the stock reports like she was selling French lingerie.” Feeding the kids is not at all like slopping the hogs. The hogs will eat anything, the kids are picky. The hogs need to be fattened up, our kids need to be carefully fed according to the best nutritional standards. The hogs don’t care who throws the slops into the trough. Our kids love to know that they matter and that the presentation of their food was carefully considered. Bad manners are routine for hogs but Scootch has taught our kids that respect and gratitude help flavor the meal for everyone.

When Scootch turned 69 recently she took some time to re-evaluate her life. As Samuel Johnson said, it was “a time to be in earnest.” After her retirement from the Loft she will be able to more fully embrace her jobs as grandma to Henry and bakery aide to her daughter, Anne Saggese. We are creating a cookbook for Scootch with the favorite recipes of the friends of the Game Loft. Please contribute a recipe and a memory for our dear friend.

Patricia Estabrook

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