peninsula community library, omps, clarissa boursaw, deni hooper, virginia hubbell, old mission peninsula, old mission, old mission michigan, peninsula township, cinnamon rolls, old mission gazette
Pictured left to right, Clarissa Boursaw, Virginia Hubbell and Deni Hooper stocking shelves at Peninsula Community Library, circa 1957.
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As anyone who went to Old Mission Peninsula School during the 1960s and 1970s knows, the cooks there – Clarissa Boursaw, Lucile Lindsey and Jo Brown – made all the food right there from scratch, including their legendary cinnamon rolls.

I posted Lucile Lindsey’s recipe for cinnamon rolls a couple of years ago (click here to see it – thanks to her daughter Helen Mumford for passing it along), and today let’s take a look at Clarissa Boursaw’s recipe. I don’t know exactly which recipe was used for the OMPS kids, but you can’t go wrong either way.

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I didn’t really know Clarissa that well, because she passed away shortly after her grandson Tim and I got together. But our daughter Marissa Jane’s name is a blending of many women on both sides of the family, including Tim’s mom Jane, my mom Mary Louise, and of course, Clarissa.

Tims says everything in Clarissa’s own kitchen was home-made, including bread, cookies, even butter. Tim remembers churning butter for her when he was a kid. She and her husband Garrett had a big garden, and as with many OMPers back then, they put up all their own food. “She was a perfect fit in the kitchen at the school,” says Tim.

Back when OMPS went through 8th grade, the kids in those higher classes at the end of the hall ate lunch in their rooms. Mr. Lindsey (Lucile’s husband Bob, who was the custodian) would wheel a big cart down the hallway, and the cart had a countertop with everything on it, including the food heated in trays.

Clarissa came along with the cart and would serve the kids by herself. “Everyone remembers her banging her spoon on the cart to keep the kids in line,” says Tim.

When she wasn’t in the school kitchen, Clarissa was working in the library, as shown in the photo above, left, with Virginia Hubbell, center, and Deni Hooper, right.

Clarissa Boursaw’s Cinnamon Rolls

1 1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening
1/3 c. dry milk
2 pkgs. yeast
2 beaten eggs
4 1/2 c. flour

Sift dry ingredients. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add melted shortening and half the dry mixture. Beat a little and add beaten eggs. Beat and add rest of dry mix.

Turn onto floured board and knead until smooth and satiny, adding flour if needed. Put dough in greased bowl. Brush lightly with soft fat and cover. Let rise at room temp. until double.

Roll on floured board into an oblong about 1/2 in. thick. Spread with softened, not melted butter. Sprinkle with white or brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll tightly and cut into inch slices. They may be set closely together on cake pans or kept further apart on cookie pans. If you do it the latter way, flatten them with the palm of your hand as you put them on the pan. Either way, the pans should be greased generously.

Because the brown sugar in rolls causes them to burn easier than white sugar, I bake them in iron skillets and avoid burning. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 min. Remove from pans at once. If you wish frosted rolls, use a confectioners sugar icing, and spread on while warm.

Help build a new library for Old Mission Peninsula, opening in 2019 – click here

Help support the NEW OMPS, opening in 2018 – click here

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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  1. What I remember as a very young girl in visiting the Boursaw’s ( usually because Shirley was babysitting us) was the tin of bacon fat on the back of the stove. It was just like my Grandmother’s. They used it for all things fried.

  2. […] But like all of us who went to Old Mission Peninsula School, Sherie has great memories of attending class there, like the square dances (always the fashionista, she recalls wearing a matching peach skirt and top) and walking down the halls with the aroma of her grandma Clarissa Boursaw’s home-made cinnamon rolls wafting through the air (check out Clarissa’s recipe here). […]

  3. […] Other than the fact that these Sloppy Joes are delicious, I didn’t really piece together why I loved them so much until her daughter, my friend Marge Long, mentioned that this is the recipe that Jo made for our lunches at Old Mission Peninsula School back in the 1960s and 70s. You know, back when our school cooks like Jo Brown, Lucile Lindsey and Clarissa Boursaw made kids’ lunches from scratch. (Remember the cinnamon rolls?) […]


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