Marcy Patten, who turns 80 this coming June 17, has not been slowing down in her cookie making.
“I’ll make six dozen at a clip, depending on the size,” the longtime Princeton resident said.
She makes an average of 6-8 dozen cookies per week and has been known to make as many as 16 dozen in that period. The latter would be for special occasions such as family reunions.
As she talked, she opened a utensil drawer and pulled out a small dough scoop. It looked like a miniature ice cream scoop in that you can scoop up something and eject it in one fairly quick motion, in this case, cookie dough.
Marcy has been making these quick motions for at least 56 years to turn out cookies. That’s close to the number of years that Marcy and her husband Wayne have been together since marrying on Sept. 29, 1956. The two first met in the early 1950s, during a gathering of the rural youth organization at the Mille Lacs County Courthouse in Milaca. The big entertainment in those days for couples, the Pattens said, was going to the dance halls that were once nearly as thick as pine trees across the country.
Marcy grew up in the Stoney Hill area north of Milaca and Wayne in Princeton, not far from where the couple now live. She completed eight grades in the Hayland District country school and then finished her high school years in Milaca.
Wayne spent his working years as a farmer, and Marcy did some work outside the home, briefly, as a principal’s secretary at Milaca High School, and then doing clerical work for nearly 20 years at what was Park Alignment in Princeton. The couple also raised three children – Sandy, Susan and Larry.
Marcy’s mother Sophie Johnson taught her cookie making and Marcy later made many cookies for Sophie.
Marcy has made many kinds of cookies over the years and still makes a lot of peanut butter cookies. Three kinds that she regularly makes now are the monster, chocolate chip and ice box.
You may have to wrestle with Wayne to get any of the ice box ones if you are over at the Pattens because those are Wayne’s favorite. Wayne even confided: “I don’t like her giving those away.”
Wayne likely got a hankering for those in his childhood as Marcy’s ice box cookie recipe came from Wayne’s mother Mabel.
Marcy uses the dough scoop to make the chocolate chip and monster cookies. For the ice box cookies, she refrigerates the dough overnight, then forms the dough into a roll and slices off pieces to place on the baking pan.
Wayne and Marcy don’t eat all the cookies Marcy makes, so that leaves enough to bring to gatherings of friends, relatives and others.
One of the places that Marcy brings her cookies is the local Patten’s Custom RV business, whose owner Dean Patten is a first cousin of Wayne.
“They don’t make anything better,” said Dean’s son, Mike Patten.
Marcy brings a big plate of the monster, ice box and chocolate chip cookies to the business each week and the employees get two to three cookies each, Mike said. There’s usually none left on the plate after everyone has had their chance to get some of Marcy’s cookies, Mike added.
Marcy says she likes to make her cookies in the morning each day. That’s a good time to do it, otherwise a person never knows what else might happen later in the day, she said.
It may be that the root of why Marcy makes so many cookies is her desire to make people happy through socializing and enjoying a treat.
“I just love to go some place for an hour or so just to get out,” she said. Or call up someone and have them over for coffee, she added.
Most anyone who observes the norms of socializing knows that when you stop over to visit someone, one would think the host would offer some treat or refreshment. That is especially true for Marcy and Wayne, part of the older generation who hold tight to social traditions.
While Marcy did not articulate that thought, that tradition of being a good host is probably a given for her, and she finds that having cookies on hand is a convenient way to be prepared for that. Cookies are an easy thing to make ahead, store and bring out when company comes, she explained.