I can’t really express the degree of loveliness I knew as a child
I’m talking about the people
They were lovely
Some more lovely than others, but, all in all, a pretty damned fine group
Beaufort, SC, was a magical Eden populated with people who were educated, bright, kind, caring, hard-working, sophisticated, worldly for such a small town
Were there problems? Myriad.
Were there issues? Thousands
Were there legacies of the South abounding? You know it
Were there a whole cast and crew that would go to prison for drug smuggling? You bet there were. Including many of Beaufort’s loveliest sons. As one of their mothers said at the time, “Well, the boys do have to eat”
Why am I rambling about this? To set the scene to introduce Jean Varn Scheper to you all. She was the younger Mrs. Scheper to us as it was her mother-in-law, Margaret Rainey “Wa-Wa” Scheper who was the real Mrs. Scheper and it was her sister-in-law Margaret Scheper Trask who was “Margaret Schep” Got all that straight?
Well, Jean Scheper, as my family called her, was married to Willie Scheper, who was just Willie Scheper to us. Willie’s father, husband of Wa-Wa and father of Margaret Schep was “Mr. Scheper”, even though he died in the early 1980s.
Jean Scheper was one of the loveliest people we knew. She adored my parents. She adored us
Soon after moving to Beaufort, Jean and Willie Scheper became some of my parents’ favorites and they theirs. Both were kind, generous, quick witted, funny, and engaging.
Both Jean and Willie thought we boys were wonderful, even though we weren’t. We were wild and bad and full on boys. Having reared a bad boy herself, Jean Scheper knew the territory.
Jean Scheper would wink and hug and smile at us no matter where we were. She would pull you aside and giggle about someone or something, but never in a mean way.
My parents still discuss the magical wedding reception hosted by Jean and Willie Scheper for their daughter’s wedding
“No gnats; no Yankees”
That was/is as good as it gets at a party
Jean Scheper died in 1995. Aged 67. Way too young. Her death was a result of heart issues following years of chemotherapy. Damn cancer
Waaaaay too young
My family miss her still
We had Willie until 2017, and we miss him, too. His was one of the last of the great Beaufort accents. We have a couple left
Even though Jean and Willie are gone, there is always goodness to be remembered every summer thinking of Jean
Because we know how to make her cobbler
Easier than pie by a wide margin
Her recipe is included in the Beaufort cookbook, Sea Island Seasons
It is the easiest thing in the world to make
Either with some ripe peaches, peeled and sliced, after July 4 when the peaches are good
Or with a pint of blackberries, my favorite
I made it recently and called my parents to discuss Jean Scheper herself
“We were blessed to know and love her and she us,” said my mama
“Her cobbler is the best”
“And so easy”
She was right
Enjoy this and think of a Beaufort lady who would have loved to have met you. Really. She would have. As would her husband. Two of the loveliest people I’ve ever known
Jean Scheper’s Cobbler
1 stick of butter, divided into 8 tbps.
1 cup of flour
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of milk
2 tsp. baking powder
6-7 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced into perfect slices OR 1 pint blackberries. The blackberries are way easier
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water
In a baking dish (I use a 9 x 12), place the divided stick of butter. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place the dish into the oven and melt the butter. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder. Add milk and whisk until smooth. Once the butter has melted, but not browned, remove dish from the oven and pour over the flour and milk mixture. Lay the peaches or the blackberries on top of that flour mixture in an even layer. The mixture will start to set/bake while you spread out the fruit. The butter will be pooling round the edges. A thing of beauty. Over that sprinkle the four tablespoons of sugar. Finally, pour the 1/2 cup of water over everything and return to the oven. Bake 45 mins to an hour. I usually bake for 45 minutes then cover with foil. Serve warm or room temperature. With a little ice cream, too. Jean Scheper would have wanted you to do it that way.