Memories are part of the menu at supper
By LaRita Jacobs Times Staff Writer
Published March 12, 2008
Imagine a supper where the menu never changes. For 34 years. ¶ That's part of the charm of the Largo Historical Society's annual Cracker Supper. Since 1974, the supper has been a reminder of a bygone era, as well as a reunion and a fundraiser.
The 2008 edition was held Saturday at the city's Southwest Recreation Complex. More than 350 people attended.
According to Elmer Williams, president of the Historical Society and co-chair of the Cracker Supper committee, the menu reflects the food that was available at Largo's first county fair in 1910.
This included chicken and rice, ham, collard greens, black-eyed peas, coleslaw and corn bread, with a slice of apple pie for dessert.
Williams explained the origins of the term cracker, which is typically associated with rural Southerners.
"In the late 1800s, the cattle drivers would round up cattle using what they called a black snake whip. There wasn't modern noises like today, so you could really hear the whips crack," Williams said. "When they came near a town the kids would yell 'the crackers are coming!'"
The event served as a reunion for many longtime Largo residents. Name tags included maiden names to help identify a former classmate or even a former crush.
The evening abounded with history, laughter and hugs. The McMullen family was represented by nonagenarians and wee ones in strollers. Three generations of the Tarbox family mingled with the crowd.
"My dad was the manager of the Largo theater," said Chris Tarbox Smith. "Some people remember him because he kicked them out."
The money raised benefits the historical society, best known for saving and renovating the Largo Feed Store in Central Park. The society also helped with the Lowe Barn and the McMullen Smoke House at Heritage Village.
The stories were flowing freely by the time the winner of the night's raffle was announced. Bob Gibson won $362.50 and promptly donated it back to the historical society.
"Bob owned his own construction company," Williams said. "He built Largo's only city bomb shelter in the Cold War."
Like most attendees, Gibson and his wife, Martha Jones Gibson, have deep ties to the community.
"I was a teacher back when you could spank them," said Mrs. Gibson. "They tell me to watch out for the Police Department because I paddled many of them."