Seneca— Some think the season of giving begins at Thanksgiving; for the few members of the Seneca United Church of Christ, it begins a month earlier, the last Sunday in October when they and a few of their friends, serve a turkey dinner with all the trimmings that an estimated 250 come to enjoy.
LaVina Sevier, in her eighties, remembers moving to Seneca as a young bride in 1962. She immediately began helping with the annual tradition that had been going on long before she came. She became friends with another young ranch wife, Nadine Anderson, who now resides in the Pioneer Care Home at Mullen. The two after all their predecessors were unable, carried the load of organizing, shopping and splitting up the cooking duties between the few volunteers. The last several years, Sevier has turned that duty over to
Donna Reynolds of Mullen. Reynolds is very adept at large meals, as she did catering for brandings, and area conventions for years.
Sevier is still present the day of, mainly at the sink doing dishes, letting the younger legs do the heavy labor.
The shopping list varies slightly, “Nine whole turkeys at twenty pounds apiece, plus some quarters, cooking split between the volunteers as are over eighty pounds of potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed. A heck of a lot of salads all home made by us and many others, as well as the homemade dressing (stuffing), gravy and desserts too numerous to count. The only items bought besides the table service and drinks were the rolls and corn,” explained Reynolds.
Reynolds herself was not present the day of the dinner as she was home recuperating from knee replacement. People come from miles around, and families come back from out of state to enjoy the food and reconnect with old friends they see only once a year at Seneca.
The members of the Lone Valley Extension club automatically know when the October meeting is as they come from not only Stapleton, in Logan county but from North Platte, Tryon and Mullen. Doris Starr and her husband, Darryl, always host the monthly meeting at their ranch after eating.
Along with the meal, a bazaar is held of items brought in by the volunteers or hand made by them. Specialty items every year include bagged nuts for holiday baking and jars of homemade horseradish, 108 pint jars this year. The making of this annual treat is a story in itself, as a couple of weeks prior, the members congregate at Sevier’s home with a hundred pounds or so of horseradish dug up from their ranch or around the community of Seneca. They clean, scrape, cut, chop, mix, and cry to get this treasure made. They must limit the number one can buy or it is gone in a very short time.
Seneca begins the time change from central to mountain, beginning the food line at 11:00 M.T. The line stretches across the old gym floor, and by those who live in central time are done eating, Mullen residents start coming after their church services.
This is the only day of fundraising the members of the Seneca UCC does the whole year, considering the time, effort and labor involved, it is indeed the kick-off event for the season of giving in this Sandhills community.