“It’s so much like déjà vu,” says Shelia Richardson of seeing her grandsons ride the combine with her husband, Hank.
“It’s so much like seeing our sons riding with him years ago. I’m really proud it’s something Hank and our boys have gotten to share,” said Shelia.
Both natives of Cherokee County, Hank and Shelia Richardson live near Centre, and they and their sons’ families live on the property that was Hank’s family’s farm.
“I grew up in town, so country living was new to me when Hank and I married. But as hard as it is for farmers to make it, there’s nothing like raising children on a farm,” said Shelia.
Shelia has worked for WEIS radio in Centre since 1989, and is now assistant general manager there. Hank, along with his two brothers, owns Dixie Green, a 500,000 square-foot greenhouse business where they grow mums, ferns, hanging baskets and other ornamentals, including poinsettias for Disney World.
“When our boys were small, I’d take them to the greenhouses to make their pictures in this sea of poinsettias, and we’d have to boost them up to see their faces over the plants,” Shelia said.
Hank and his sons also planted 500 acres of soybeans this past year. Hank serves on the Federation’s Cherokee County Board and is a member of the state Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Committee, while Shelia serves as secretary for the Cherokee County Women’s Committee.
“Hank’s parents loved the Federation, and that sense of tradition has made it special for us. We still have the plaques they were given for 50 years of service to the organization. I can remember them talking well in advance of the annual meeting about going to Mobile, and the preparations they made to be there. I still appreciate that some of the people at that meeting every year are quite elderly, but they make the effort to be there because the Federation is something they’ve put their hearts into,” she said.
Although Shelia says her own mother was a good cook, she credits her late mother-in-law, Floyce Richardson, with inspiring her to learn to cook.
“My mother-in-law actually cooked the after-rehearsal dinner when Hank and I married, and when I tasted her food, I thought, ‘Hank’s going to starve to death if he’s used to eating like this,’ so I started watching her cook, even when she didn’t know it. Something as simple as her sweet tea was delicious,” Shelia said.
“When I made the Sweet and Tangy Meatballs and won the Cherokee County Heritage Cooking contest, someone said to me that Mrs. Floyce would be so proud. She was well known for her cooking,” Shelia said.
Like the Sweet and Tangy Meatballs, Shelia’s Tropical Blend Pork Chops and Sausage Wontons took top honors at previous county Heritage contests, and she includes her mother-in-law’s Cold Oven Pound Cake and Creamy Chicken Salad recipes as well.