WINTHROP – After 30 years of hosting fish chowder luncheons, members of the Winthrop Congregational Church are donning their chef’s hats and aprons for the first chowder of the 31st season on Friday, Sept. 9.

The chowder recipe was developed by Mary York for that first fish chowder in January of 1975. York’s daughter, Lee Gilman, is carrying on the family tradition, baking two pies and donating her homemade pickles each month.

Two local women, Jean Doughty and Darlene Rodzen, worked on that first fish chowder luncheon and will be at their posts as usual on Sept. 9.

Barbara Ingham, who died recently, was known as the “biscuit boss” for many years, baking 100 biscuits for each chowder luncheon until she was in her 90s. Ginny Webb is the present “biscuit boss.” The first fish chowder in 1975 netted $66 for the church treasury.

The menu remains the same: all-you-can-eat fish chowder, homemade biscuits, homemade pickles and a selection of homemade pies, which always includes at least one sugar-free pie.

The chefs will be in the kitchen watching over three huge pots of fish chowder, each pot containing 10 pounds of potatoes and 12 pounds of fish. Other workers in the kitchen will be busy packaging take-out meals for a number of long-time customers who can’t leave their workplace or are homebound.

The dining room opens at 11:30 a.m. A hostess provides information to newcomers, points out favorite pies to long-time customers and newcomers and generally keeps the dining room activities running smoothly.

There are seasonal decorations on all the tables. Regular luncheon patrons come from Winthrop, Wayne, Monmouth, Augusta, Lewiston, Gardiner and Farmingdale. Former church members and former pastors who have left the area return from Waterville, Scarborough and Wells with the dual purpose of seeing old friends and enjoying the fish chowder.

The men and women who work on the luncheon are looking forward to seeing some new faces on Sept. 9. The Winthrop Congregational Church, located on the corner of Main and Bowdoin streets is handicapped accessible. The lunches are held on the second Friday of the month from September to May.

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