Sharing families stories, memories

By Katherine Compton-Pope
Dec. 26, 2017 at 3:51 p.m.
Updated Dec. 27, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Ham and Swiss quiche

Ham and Swiss quiche   Photo contributed by Katherine Pope for The Victoria Advocate

I hope your Christmas was as filled with as much love as mine. Both my children were home, Santa came and was better to all of us than I am sure we deserved. We spent the holidays cooking, eating and visiting and that truly was my greatest gift.

The after-Christmas hangover has set in, and if you are like me, you are looking for ways to simplify and use up all those Christmas leftovers. My family has never been big leftover-eaters, so this really presents me with a challenge, but I am up to the task.

When I am remaking meals, my darling Grandpa Newman Hastings Compton is never far from my mind. Newman never met a leftover he didn't love. He was a child of the Depression, and one lesson he learned was never to waste food. His corn pancakes and shepherd's pie are still a running joke among our family.

Standing 6 feet, 3 inches tall, Newman was an imposing figure. He was a man's man who was the embodiment of a life well-lived. My sweet grandpa was born on a farm on Vancouver Island. After his father died when he was only 9, he was sent to Chesterfield boarding school where the roots of his faith were cemented. After graduation, he made his way to Ocean Falls, British Columbia, and found a job working in a paper mill earning 35 cents an hour.

He told me the story of those hard first years on his own when he would go down to the market on Sundays to buy vegetables to make a stew he would eat for the rest of the week.

In 1948, he earned his first supervisory position with St. Regis Paper Co. and moved to Tacoma, Wash. In 1953, he proudly became a United States citizen. From that 35-cent an hour job, my grandpa steadily worked his way up in the paper industry, and when I say up, I really mean up.

In 1965, he was charged with building and running a new paper mill in Monticello, Miss., which was at that time, the largest computerized paper mill in the world. St. Regis also sent him to rebuild a paper mill in Aballa, Sweden.

I remember as a little girl, when I would complain about the smell of paper mills, Grandpa would say, "Do you know what that smell is, Katherine Leigh? That's the smell of money." He finally retired from the paper industry in Pensacola, Fla., at age 65. I never remember my grandpa working, but I do remember his office at their home. It was so dark and mysterious to me, the stock ticker tape and all the annual reports piled high on his desk. Sometimes, he would let me sit in his big, leather chair and play with the Newton's Cradle he kept on his desk.

Grandpa was a devout and lifelong member of the Anglican/Episcopal Church. He was one of the founding members of All Saints Anglican Church in Pensacola, where my daughter, Caroline, and I were both baptized, and where the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is still used every Sunday.

The Compton family crest features Psalm 127, "Except the Lord build the house, the servants labor in vain." I can proudly say my grandpa's life was the true embodiment of this Psalm. I hope someday to live up to the example he set.

Every year, I use what is leftover of our Christmas ham to make this ham and swiss quiche, and old Newman is never far from my heart. It is great with a side of fruit salad for breakfast or wonderful with a green salad for dinner.

While you are soaking in the last of the holidays, be sure to share the stories, lessons and recipes that mean something to you with the ones you love.

Katherine Pope is a wife, mother and Realtor. She loves cooking almost as much as she loves living in Jackson County Texas. Katherine can be contacted by email at whatscookingkatherine@gmail.com


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