The People in Your Neighborhood: ‘Catfish’ Sandy Kuhens

Last Monday, I had to stop by the Salvation Army here in Muscatine to pick up a winter coat for a student at one of our schools that needed one. I always enjoy chatting with Lieutenants Greg and Liz Bock along with the usual folks I see down there like Sissy Rogers, Diana Kean, and Mary Darnell.

As I was getting ready to go, Lieutenant Bock said, “We’ve got brats for lunch today, come get one to go.” I couldn’t be rude and turn down a meal, so I followed him into their dining area. I was greeted by a familiar face in Andy Emmert
with the New Hope Foundation who was also volunteering alongside the one and only “Catfish” Sandy Kuhens. How have I been living in Muscatine since July of 2012 and this was the first time I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Catfish Sandy?

We hit it off instantly, as I’m guessing the majority of folks do that meet her for the first time. She mentioned having lived a few houses away from my wife’s family on West 3rd Street. My friend Catfish Sandy is 85 years young and is volunteering her time (as she’s done for over 20 years) preparing meals three times per week at the Salvation Army. The meals are offered Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at no cost and available to everyone.

Folks, I’m here to tell you that Catfish Sandy’s homemade pea salad was maybe one of the best side dishes that I have ever had! The food was great, but the brief conversations with Catfish Sandy were truly memorable.

Did you know that she has a published cookbook that not only contains her famous recipes but also starts with
her life story?! I’ve included a picture of the cover of the book, and I highly recommend that you pickup a copy available at the Salvation Army, 1000 South Oregon Street here in Muscatine. Her family has a deep connection with the mighty Mississippi River, including Catfish Sandy’s mother, who was raised on a five room houseboat! I don’t want to spoil the story but, you’ll appreciate the history of her family fishing the river and being involved in the pearl button industry. Catfish Sandy’s work ethic came at a young age working alongside her grandfather fishing the Mississippi River.

Sandy Kuhen’s cookbook, “Catfish Sandy’s Family Recipes.”

As I was leaving my impromptu lunch last week, I shared how honored and thankful I was having met Catfish Sandy. The world needs more people like Catfish Sandy in it. Those who answer the call to serve the greater good and do it because it is the right thing to do. I’d also encourage that you go have lunch at the Salvation Army and enjoy a conversation with Catfish Sandy and all the volunteers who truly continue to do the most good. Catfish
Sandy, thank you for being my newest friend, and I will see you soon!