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Claudine White ready to fry her last chicken

By Sherri Ellington Soon several local clubs will no longer enjoy the same fried chicken and other homestyle delicacies they have become accustomed to. After 42 years, Claudine White ‘“ the 2006 Career Woman of the Year ‘“ is retiring from her career of cooking for them. She will prepare her last fried chicken dinner on the last Tuesday in July. A native of Redbone and the daughter of Roscoe and Pearl Keadle Pippin, White got her start catering meals with her mother-in-law Liola White. Now, five generations of Whites have helped with the family affair that started by preparing meals for the Barnesville Women’s Club. ’My father-in-law passed away and Liola asked me to fill in for her a little. I used to help her some when she was working so if you count the three years I worked with her it’s been 45 years,’ Claudine said. Helping White have been her daughters Carlette Davidson and Pippa Lee Davis, now a teacher for Lamar County. Granddaughter Rachael Long, who teaches in Griffin, has worked for her and the newest helper is great-grandson, Brogan Long. ’He’s 3 and can put napkins on the table,’ she said of the fifth generation. ‘All three of the boys have learned to set a proper table from the beginning.’ Her other grandchildren are former valedictorian Seth Davidson; Jackson Davis, a student at Georgia Southern; and Pippin Davis, ‘our own football player at Lamar County,’ she said. In addition to the now-disbanded Women’s Club, White has prepared meals for the Barnesville Women’s League, the former Civic League, Kiwanis, Rotary, Delta Kappa Gamma, ‘and other drop-in type of events,’ she said. ‘I didn’t do it for the money. It was just my thing. The Women’s Clubhouse is like a second home to me. It has a lot of history.’ She also has cooked meals for shut-ins and elderly while keeping busy as a member of Barnesville First Baptist Church, the Azalea Garden Club, Daughters of the American Revolution, Lamar Arts and Friends of the Library. The Women’s League has honored White for her work: for two decades of service in 1992, a Distinguished Service commendation in 2013 and a thank-you ceremony at the last meeting. White said the most meaningful honor was when a tree was planted at the Women’s Clubhouse in her honor. ’I didn’t know about it but all my family did,’ she said. ‘They called me over and I was blown away. All the clubs were involved. ’The Tour of Homes was also a special time. They helped me keep up with people by sponsoring the birthday calendar every year. It’s been great getting to know most of the women,’ she added. White said many people have been memorable to her over the years ‘“ so many she cannot list them all. ’There was Emmett Coleman, Henry Wisebram ‘“ I worked for Mr. Henry when I was in high school ‘“ John T. Middlebrooks (‘the only coffee drinker I ever had,’) Vester Butler, Cyrus Neuner, John Hewitt, Dr. S.B. Traylor and Quimby Melton,’ she said. ‘Mr. Melton was one of my favorite people. He always had a compliment on my table decorations. I made them according to the seasons.’ Floyd Moye and Joe Edwards ‘are the only two who have been there in Rotary as long as I’ve been cooking for them,’ she said. ‘They’ll go over to the College and Career Academy in July. I chose not to go with them. It’s a good time for me to retire. I bought a filing cabinet so I can put my memories of the past together.’ Over the years she has noted a relaxation in business dress, from men wearing coats and ties even in the hottest, most humid weather to jeans, shorts and flip flops. One Rotarian borrowed a rope from her once because he had forgotten his belt. His pants ‘just would not stay up,’ she said. ’It’s interesting how times have changed,’ she said. ‘Ladies came to their clubs in their Sunday best. It was a big social thing.’ Before her children arrived, Claudine worked at Gordon. ‘I was only 20,’ she said. ‘My husband and his father, Carl White senior and junior, were both Rotarians. Rotary celebrated its 75th year this year. Rotary has always been my love. You’d almost think they had assigned seats; they sit at the same tables every week. Sometimes I’d change the tables around to try to get them to mix it up. It’s a fun club. I have more sweethearts than anyone in Barnesville.’ One thing she is particularly proud of is that, in all her years of cooking for local clubs, she has never run out of food. Over the years she has enjoyed getting to know ‘people from every walk of life,’ she said. ‘It makes life interesting to learn about people.’ As for that fried chicken recipe, White will disclose one secret: It is cooked in large cast iron frying pans.

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