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Cooking Corner - "Slippery Jims"

Written By: Ellen Kleven  |  Posted: Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Donna Switzer's mother had never heard of Eau Claire until the day the school board from Donna's school informed her that the nearest transfer for a high school was Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Donna's grandfather and mother had individually attempted to buy a house in a different district in Milwaukee, with no success for either of them, the former due to his age and the latter due to her status of divorced single mother. The year was 1952, and she was not about to take the risk of having her daughter attend the all black high school in the heart of Milwaukee. She and Donna climbed aboard the train and to Eau Claire they came.

The first memory Donna has of canning food was when she was about four years old. Her grandmother's cousin had a farm in Antigo where they raised pigs for food. The government kept track of how many pigs they had because the priority was for the men at war. One pregnant pig was hidden in the woods when the government worker came to number them, and thus there was meat for their family that year as well. Donna's grandmother got a call saying that "the time was right", so they took off for Antigo, WI to help with the shooting and butchering process. When they returned to Milwaukee, Donna recalls her grandmother and mother canning pork in hot water baths, which took at least three hours per batch. "It was so hot and steamy, with no place to go, " remarked Donna.

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