Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, March 11, 2000, Image 50

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    “It’s easier for me to cook for 200 than two,” said Cathe
rine Schott, president of the Society of Farm Women of
Pennsylvania. As kitchen manager of the Lebanon County
Expo Center, Schott is well known for her superb cooking
and for her vivaciousness.
Catherine collects angel and pig figurines, but her most
cherished collection of teacups and saucers is stored in
this family heirloom china closet.
Although they are no longer active farmers, Catherine and Leonard Schott enjoy the
view surrounding their little house that overlooks 110 acres of their farmland.
‘Mrs. President' Fitts Life With
Music, Cooking, Farm Women
Lancaster Farming Staff
LEBANON (Lebanon Co.)
With a tip of his hat and a slight
nod, an employee stops what he
is doing to respectfully greet
Catherine Schott.
“Mrs. President,” he mur
Catherine gives a hearty
laugh and explains to a visitor,
“That’s what they’ve been call
ing me ever since I became presi
dent of Farm Women.”
As head of the 2,459 member
ship of the Society of Farm
Women of Pennsylvania, Cathe
rine has the distinction of being
the first woman from Lebanon
County to head the organization
during its 86-year history.
It’s a honor that Catherine
values with a bit of trepidation.
She said, “I have a concern that
I will be able to do the job well.
But I have my committees to
rely upon. I couldn’t fill the
office without them.”
For a person who was signed
up for membership without her
permission, Catherine certainly
has become a model leader. To
understand how she became a
member without permission,
one needs to understand the
Catherine did not grow up on
a farm, but she vowed since six
years of age that she would
marry a farmer. In high school,
she met Leonard Schott.
“We met in band. He played
the flute, and I played the oboe,”
she said.
Leonard was shy and was im
mediately charmed by Cathe
rine’s vivaciousness a trait
she continues to exhibit to this
When Leonard asked her to
attend the Pennsylvania Farm
Show to watch him exhibit pigs
and heifers, Catherine was
hooked with both the farmer
and the intricacies of farm
related activities.
After high school graduation,
Leonard, foreseeing that he
would be drafted, joined the
army. It was the couple’s inten
tion to wait until his service term
ended and be married.
In those days, membership to
Farm Women was limited be
cause so many wanted to join. A
limit was set upon membership
dependent upon the number
that could comfortably fit inside
a home where meetings were
Leonard’s mother was a char
ter member of Lebanon Society
7. She requested that the 28-
member limit be changed so that
her future daughter-in-law
could join. The members agreed.
The only hitch was that Cathe
rine knew nothing about it until
members welcomed her when
they saw her at church.
From this incident, Catherine
feared that her mother-in-law
might be controlling, but accord
ing to Catherine, “She wasn’t at
all. She just liked Farm Women
so much she was certain I would
She was right.
Later her mother-in-law said,
“I knew you’d be good for our
She proved that right also.
Catherine has served numerous
offices in the local, county, and
state levels.
The couple married before
Leonard had finished his tour
with the army, and Catherine
joined him in Pittsburgh where
he was stationed.
“We’d come home (Lebanon
County) Friday afternoon to cut
the hay, make the hay on Satur
day, load it on wagons, and pull
into the barn,” Catherine said.
The following weeks the couple
again rushed home to unload
the hay.
When the couple were first
married, Catherine did not
know how to cook. Both her
mother and grandmother were
accomplished cooks who were in
charge of cooking for fire com
panies and other community af
fairs. “Both of them were frugal
and didn’t want to waste a drop
of food,” Catherine said. “They
didn’t want to take a chance on
When the couple rented an
apartment in Pittsburgh from an
Italian woman, she was
overheard to say, “Foolish
American girl she got mar
ried and can’t cook.”
The landlady took the respon
sibility to teach Catherine cook
ing basics.
“I learned to clean chickens
and everything,” Catherine
said. It was a foundation that
laid the groundwork for Cathe
rine becoming one of the best
known cooks in Lebanon
County but more on that
When the couple moved back
to Lebanon County, their life
style continue to be a bit hectic.
They did not live on the family
farm, so every morning Cathe
rine packed a lunch and their
newborn baby to go with Leon
ard and help on the farm all day.
The couple eventually had
three children, who are now
married and have given the
Schotts seven grandchildren.
In 1968, Leonard and Cathe
rine moved to the farm. They
changed from dairy to crop
farming, but in 1971, a serious
injury forced Leonard to give up
In recent years, the Schotts
sold the home farm to their
daughter and her husband.
“I missed the farm more than
Leonard did,” Catherine said of
one of the most difficult transi
tions of her life. Easing the sepa
ration is the fact that they live in
a house surrounded by fields
from the 110 acres they retained.
Leonard no longer crop farms
but rents the ground and is in
tractor sales for Keller Brothers.
In 1976, something happened
that had an influence on the di
rection Catherine’s focus was
about to take. That year the
1976 wagon train came through
Quentin, where Catherine grew
“You must help,” Catherine’s
mother said of the food prepara
tion needed for the community
“I told my mom, ‘Never in my
life will I do this (on a regular
basis),’” Catherine related.
Surprisingly, Catherine dis
covered she enjoyed preparing -
the food, which included killing
50 chickens to make pot pie.
“But I wouldn’t admit it to
my mother,” Catherine said.
More and more she began
helping her mother with com
munity fundraisers. She soon
became known as the “hamboat
lady,” because hamboats
became a popular fundraiser in
the area.
After years of volunteer cook
ing, Catherine was asked in
1992 if she’d like to get paid for
it. Now she manages the kitchen
at the Lebanon County Expo
Center. The site is used weekly
to host events for many different
groups in addition to agricul
ture-related events. About 16’
women help Catherine with
food preparation and serving.
Most of these are of retirement
age. Leonard refers to them as
“not retired, just retreaded.” He
also is often asked to assist with
the food preparation.
It’s Lebanon Fair week that
draws the largest crowd, and for
that Catherine volunteers her
time. For eight days she puts in
10-15-hour days to prepare
breakfast, lunch, and dinner for
about 10,000 people. During,
that week, three tons potatoes,
800 pounds of pork barbecue,
1,200 pounds hamburger pat
ties, 40,000 drinks, and 6,000'
sodas are served.
“It’s easier for me to cook for
200 than for two,” Catherine
said. “I love my job and meeting
all the people.”
Catherine has another love in
her life music. As a young
girl, the school chorus director
told her that she has a good
voice and offered to give her
voice lessons.
“We formed the first girl’s
barbershop quartet at least in
this area,” Catherine said. She
sang bass.
She has been singing ever
since. Although she has a wide
range, she generally sings the
soprano solos, such as she did
for the state Farm Women’s
(Turn to Page B 4)