A Taste Of Our Own: The Legacy of Lincoln School
While the doors of Lincoln School closed nearly 60 years ago, there is one artifact keeping the legacy of what was once “The Hinton Colored School” alive: a cookbook.
A Taste Of Our Own is a cookbook composed of recipes provided by Lincoln School alumni. The cookbook contains recipes for everything from southern smoked baked chicken to peach cobbler and even a recipe for a happy marriage.
The five alumni responsible for assembling the cookbooks, better known as ‘The Cookbook Committee’, included Shelby Mann-Morris, Judy Mann-Martin, Linda Huffman, Sonia Galloway, Vickie Armendariz and Juanita Pack.
Pack, who attended Lincoln School up until its closing in 1963 , said the group wanted to put together something special for those returning to Hinton for the 2006 reunion.
“We were happy with how the cookbooks came out and we had fun doing it,” Pack said, “I miss doing things like that together.”
The cookbook is dedicated to all cooks and honors Lincoln School’s original culinary staff, which consisted of Naomi Crawford, Eva Garrett, Geneva Johnson, and Eugene Baker.
“In our homes, today and as always, life is centered around the kitchen,” the opening page reads, “It is with this thought in mind that we, the sponsors, have compiled these recipes. Some of the recipes are treasured family keepsakes and some are new; however, they all reflect the love of good cooking.”
The cookbook also includes a 1991 article that features Lincoln School alumna Thelma Brown, who graduated with the class of 1933. Brown’s passion for cooking carried her to Texas, where she went on to teach home economics at Texas College, Wiley College, University of Arkansas and Prairie View A&M. In the article, Brown discussed her love for food and the cooking she did all throughout her life. Brown even shared her favorite recipe for ‘Tomatoey Beans N Burger’ and mentioned how much her family loved working with ground beef.
“We like ground beef because there’s so much you can do with it,” Brown said, “It has string beans, meat and cheese so all you need is a salad to make the meal complete.”
Between 1897 and 1963, Lincoln School became known for its Hot Lunch Program, which provided students with nourishing meals prepared by the culinary staff. The staff utilized free commodities such as powdered eggs and milk to serve countless free meals to black students in the Hinton area.
Initially established as an elementary school employing four teachers, the school moved from its original location on James Street to what is now a two-story brick structure on Hill Street in 1926. The school, which through the years expanded up to 12th grade, holds eight classrooms, a gymnasium, office space and an auditorium.
In 1963, integration meant that Black students were now to attend either Hinton High School or Talcott High School with white students. Pack said that it was not easy leaving Lincoln School behind.
“When we went to our Black school, people were looking out for each other,” Pack said, “It was hard to adjust because we had never been around too many white people. They were looking at us and we were looking at them. We had no say so when it came to things going on around school like class president elections. It just wasn’t the same.”
Prior to integration, Black students from surrounding areas such as Talcott and Meadow Bridge came to Lincoln School seeking quality education and camaraderie. Pack recalls feeling “at home” during her time as a student.
“You had all of your friends and things there and the staff took a special interest in you,” Pack said, “They were like extended family.”
While Lincoln School is no longer in operation, its legacy of phenomenal food and unity will live on forever.
Modern day photo of Lincoln School taken by Mark Bollinger with the National Park Service.