Food, friendship, and fun are in a League of their own in Paducah
Women in the south have long been a force behind successful initiatives to lift up those in need, support community causes of merit, and create cultures of social change for the neighborhoods where they abide. In the 30s in Paducah, a group of just such women formed the Charity League—an organization of like-minded women devoted to acquiring funds to undergird the local Friendly Home, which took in orphans and children in need. A couple of decades later, in 1954, the League apparently decided that the sale of a cookbook, a staple of the southern kitchen, would be a good way to raise money to provide for the needs of the Friendly Home and other worthy Paducah projects. That original red-covered book began a tradition that has transcended time and membership. “I bet if you looked in every kitchen of women who were born and raised in Paducah you’d find a Charity League cookbook,” says Trish Hines, League associate.
These cookbooks are strewn throughout Paducah and no doubt throughout the country as they traveled with League alumni to other southern cities (or maybe even northern ones heaven forbid.)
League cookbooks fill the gaps in our renditions of cherished dishes on our family tables, rekindling old culinary flames and forever enshrining in print Paducah women and the worlds they lived in.
In this edition, we explore the makings and the memories of the longstanding Charity League cookbooks. Bon appetit!