Kluckman baking tradition is generations old
By Sandy Bond
Vorsicht! (Caution!) If you are fortunate enough to be a friend or neighbor of the delightful Kluckman clan, Deloris Kluckman of Pollock and Darlene (Kluckman) Binfet of Mobridge, you are about to be bestowed with delicious, decedent, Christmas confectionaries! And did we mention highly caloric? You can run, but you can’t hide. They know where you live!
It’s a Kluckman tradition that goes back generations.
“Our mother was the best cook in Campbell County,” Darlene and Deloris said in unison. “So we learned from the best.”
It was a simpler time. Farms were smaller, equipment was relatively primitive by today’s standards, work was hard, and many families couldn’t afford hired help. Whether it was raising a barn or harvesting a crop, you helped them, and they helped you.
The Kluckman family played an important part in settling the Pollock area, Deloris said. Grandfather Rudolph homesteaded in the Dakotas from Wisconsin in the late 1800s.
Schoolteachers were paid very little in those days and often would find room and board at the Kluckman home.
“For $12 per month, they had a nice place to stay and three delicious meals a day,” Deloris said.
“The teachers that lived with us could hardly wait to see what mom had packed for their lunch for the day, because it was sure to be tasty,” Darlene said.
Deloris, Duane, and Darlene were born to Walter and Martha Kluckman and grew up on the homestead eight miles south of old Pollock. There was approximately six to seven years between each child: Duane was born in 1930, Deloris, 1938 and Darleen, 1944.
“Each birth was anticipated with such joy because it was like the beginning of a new family,” Deloris said.
“Duane was born at the advent of the Great Deprssion, I in the midst, and Darlene following the Depression,” Deloris said, “but we simply can’t recall the hard times although we’ve heard stories about some having to put cardboard in the soles of their shoes when they wore out. Dad worked for the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration) in addition to farming so that may have helped.”
“Aunt Pauline Wendt was the best seamstress in the county so I was so fortunate that she loved to sew for her first niece,” Deloris said.
“Mom did use pattern flour sacks, but not for making dresses. She made aprons from them, I recall,” Deloris said.
A typical day on the farm started early.
Dad expected a big breakfast with oatmeal, eggs, and bacon, Deloris said.
At 10 a.m. he stopped for coffee and maybe a piece of pie or cookies while he rested the horses. He was careful to never overwork them, Deloris said.
At exactly at 12 noon, their dad came through the door for lunch, and precisely at 6 p.m. supper was on the table unless they were harvesting, Darlene said.
Lunch and supper often consisted of lots of meat and potatoes topped off with one of mom’s famous pies, Deloris said.
“We always wondered if it was a coincidence that salesmen showed up just about mealtime,” Darlene said. “They’d always be invited to partake of mom’s delicious meals.”
The arch villain of the barnyard was not the 1,200-pound bull, but the 12-pound tom turkey.
“We hated feeding the turkey, because the turkey would fly right at us,” Darlene said,
Even before the first snowflake spiraled from the heavens, the Kluckman clan was planning their holiday menu.
When Deloris was on a Thanksgiving break as a student and later as a professor of consumer science at South Dakota State University, that usually signaled the advent of holiday baking. Baking continued until the moment Deloris packed up for the three-hour drive back to school.
If the walls of the sturdy farmhouse could talk, what tales it would tell.
“From Christmas to New Years we celebrated,” the sisters said.
The women visited, the men always played whist, and the children made up their own fun.
“Jumping on the bed was great entertainment,” I recall Darlene said.
Suddenly, the stress from all that jumping would dislodge the boards that held the mattress on the bed, and they would fall to the floor, swathed in sheets, and with gales of laugher, startling the men downstairs playing cards.
One of their mom’s favorite traditions was baking more than 200 sugar cookies, and everybody – men, women and children – got to decorate their favorites, including giant candy canes and poinsettias.
All their friends and neighbors say they are the busiest retirees they’ve ever seen.
Deloris has retired after teaching at SDSU for nearly 30 years. Darlene retired after teaching for 40 years in the Mobridge-Pollock School District, where her husband Virgil retired as longtime business manager. Deloris always has remembered many of her students and faculty with Christmas delights and Darlene and Virgil distributed cookies at the schools in Mobridge.
This Christmas season they all plan to visit Darlene and Virgil’s only son, Joel, his wife, Angie and their 18-month old daughter, Lauren, in Colorado. And, yes, there will be plenty of sugar cookies for everyone to decorate!