Ibbie Ledford grew up on a Tennessee farm with six brothers and
three sisters. Although they were a poor family, she never felt deprived because
of the love and warmth provided by her parents. After marrying a “farm boy” at
the age of seventeen, she moved to Memphis. There Ibbie and her husband, Willie,
raised three children. At the age of forty-eight, she went back to school to
earn her high-school diploma.
“I always thought a writer had to have a degree,” she says of her
early fears of writing. Despite the fact that she had written for several years,
her memoirs remained secret until her son found one of her pieces and offered to
assist with spelling and editing. Ibbie says, “I was elated as I began to gather
the bits and pieces of my stories and recipes. I found stories that I had
forgotten, one . . . in my Bible I could not even remember writing.” These
stories have been collected to produce Ledford's first book, Hill Country
Cookin' and Memoirs.
In Hill Country Cookin' and Memoirs, Ibbie
re-created the Tennessee hills of her youth. Recounting tales of the 1930s and
1940s, she introduced outsiders to a mystical place and time through both
stories and recipes. In her second book, Y'All Come Back, Now:
Recipes and Memories, she shares her collection of favorite foods and
anecdotes about how people in the Hill Country have adapted to changing times
and modern progress.
Ibbie keeps busy with the FCE (Family and Community Education),
an organization that started in the 1930s with demonstrations to acquaint
housewives with new kitchen techniques. She has been a member since 1978. In
addition, she recently provided the punch at the University of Tennessee
bicentennial celebration, and yes, the punch was a recipe from one of her books.
Ledford and her husband recently moved to Dyersburg, Tennessee, from their
country home in Linden, Tennessee. Ibbie says they traded in the country life so
they could be near their children and grandchildren in the city. Though Ibbie
says that the move has created big changes in her life—she no longer has the
space and her husband cannot go fishing—they enjoy the abundance of
senior-citizen activities and the proximity of their family.