Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Riverside Cook book

Did it belong to one of my grandmothers? Is it something I found in an antique store? Regardless of where it came from this old 64-page cookbook surfaced the other day when I was looking for something else.

The cover says it cost 25 cents, but I wonder if it was a give-away at a hardware store. Inside there is a tear out postcard addressed to the Rock Island Stove Company, Rock Island, Illinois, to be used to request more information about any Riverside Stove. The cost to mail the post card was two cents. The post card rate went from one cent to two in November, 1917. That coupled with the dress styles shown makes me think this was published sometime in the 1920's.

I know that style of dress was still being worn in the 1920's because I have this photo of my Grandma Lynam and my dad, Louis, who was born in 1917.

Doesn't he look like he would be three or four in this photo? Grandma still had a wood burning cook stove in the basement of her house when I was in high school.

I even have a very vague memory of the old cook stove that was in our kitchen when I was a child. It wasn't a deluxe model like this one, but it got the job done as well as heated the kitchen - which was fine in the winter, but beastly during the summer months.

Women in that era must have known how to cook without detailed recipes. For instance the recipe for Soda Biscuit says: "Take a saucer of flour...." What size saucer? How much flour would that be? And Black Cake. Wouldn't you guess that Black Cake had cocoa or chocolate in it? Nope. Here's the recipe: One cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup New Orleans molasses, 1 cup coffee, 4 eggs, 4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 cup seeded and chopped raisins, 1 cup currants. It does sound good, but what size pan do I use and how long do I bake it? By the way, it is a Dark Cake which has chocolate in it.

Have you heard of Currant Rusks, Potato Sponge or Timbales? Those recipes are in the Bread, Rolls, Buns and Biscuit section, which does give a bit of a clue.

Maybe great-granddaughter, Lily, would like to have Lily Cakes for her next birthday? "Four eggs beaten separately, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, sifted with one-half teaspoon baking powder. Bake on dripping pan bottom side up, butter pan lightly, drop in teaspoon and spread until three and one-half inches in diameter. While warm roll in shape of calla lily and fasten with tooth pick. When ready to serve fill with whipped cream and sweetened and flavored and stick of candied orange peel for corolla of lily." Got that Grandma Shelly or Alyssa? No, don't ask me what a 'dripping pan' is. These sound something like pancakes, so why didn't they say "bake on griddle"?

Some of the recipes remind me of dishes Mom used to make - Mammy's Chicken for instance is cut up chicken seasoned, covered with milk and baked until milk is exhausted. (How tired does the milk have to be?)  I cannot remember what Mom called this - probably just 'milk chicken' - but it was good and a change from fried chicken. I know she didn't call it Mammy's Chicken.

There are recipes I would never try like Pressed Tongue while others sound tempting if I can just figure out some of the ingredients (sago?) and other instructions. In the meantime, it is so much fun to read these recipes from almost a century ago.

Here is one I believe I could still follow. It is listed under Dainties. A Receipt for Kisses: Take a bit of dark piazza; add some moonlight -- not much, -- press, in two strong hands, a small one; add of coy reserve a touch; sift in just a pinch of folly, mixed with softly whispered sighs; of romance add two small tea cups, and the starlight of her eyes; then dissolve some pure emotion in a longing and a laugh; mix a grain of deep affection with a bit of merry chaff; add an ounce of mild resistance, two of yielding, -- then, in mute, inexpressible enjoyment, serve in quantities to suit." Or maybe that is one for Bud to try?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Remember THE Wednesday"

As soon as Ron handed me Dad & Mom's autograph books, I saw that Mom's matched her diary which I already had. It was given to her for Christmas, 1935, so I assume she received the autograph book at the same time.
"Remember the Wednesday" "Wednesday, May 27, 1936" was penned by "Your Friend, Marvis Bell". "Aha!" I thought as soon as I read that, "I can look in her diary to see what it was Marvis wanted Mom to remember." Big disappointment. All Mom wrote that day was "Done up the work. Washed. I hung out the clothes. Thelma Miller & Marvis Bell were here this afternoon." Unfortunately, whatever devilment they got up to that afternoon was not recorded for posterity.
I don't remember Mom talking about Thelma or Marvis as I was growing up, so I had to do some research. I found reference to more than one Thelma Miller from that time, but I'm sure the one who was Mom's friend was the sister of Irvin Miller, who she did talk about and knew their whole lives. Thelma married a Slump from the New Market area and lived in Pueblo, Colorado.

Marvis also left the area - Marvis Maurine Bell married a Raymond Whitney in Richmond, CA in 1945. Mom talked more about Marvis' brothers, Don and Paul. This is a picture of Paul and his future wife which I found in Mom's old photo album.

Eileen was one of the 'Illinois' cousins. Dated Aug 22, 1936, she penned: "Dear Ruth, Leaves may weather, flowers may die, friends may forget you, but never will I. Your Cousin, Eileen Anderson." And she didn't forget. She and Mom exchanged letters and visits most of their lives.
Mom's diary reveals that the Anderson's were visiting in Iowa at the time. Eileen's dad, Frank also wrote in the autograph book: "Quincy is where my time is spent. Tomorrow noon I am Quincy bent. Frank Anderson."

Osil was another life-long friend and neighbor - both in the neighborhoods of their youth and later in the Jasper Twp/Iveyville neighborhoods. Osil's autograph read: Tis' a great old world we're livin' in, Tis' mighty hard to beat. There's a thorn with every rose you pick, but aren't the roses sweet. Your Pal, Osil Steadman"

There are many more autographs from friends and family in Mom's book. There are also quite a number of pages torn out. Mom always admonished me that if I didn't want something known to others to never write it down. That makes me wonder if she tore out pages because of something shared that she didn't want known. For instance, on the remaining corner of one torn out page are the words "Remember Sept. 2(?) down to your pla(ce)."

The only possibility I can find in her diary is from September 27 when she wrote, "Lois Hess (pictured above) was down for dinner. Sure had a nice time. Had a date with Clare Anderson." The handwriting looks more male than female. Did Clare write something Mom didn't want anyone else to see? Or did some other little hands cause mischief?

It was either Betty or me who used Mom's book to practice her ABC's on one page and scribble on others. There are also four pages together rather inexpertly cut out at the same time. Did one of us randomly tear out other pages? There something resembling a capital R and some other scribbling inside the back cover. Mea Culpa?

As I said in yesterday's post, I love having these glimpses into my parents' young lives and having Mom's matching diary to go along with her autograph book makes it extra special. As do her old photo albums.

One last picture of Mom and another Illinois cousin, Gladys Mae Gray (on the right). There's no autograph from Gladys, maybe it was one of the ones torn out, but there is one from her younger brother, Donald. I'm guessing this picture was taken in Illinois. Notice the watering can behind Mom and isn't that a black cat in the window?

Friday, March 21, 2014

"In Your Chain of Memories, Remember Me as a Link"

A couple days ago, we met my brother Ron and his wife Marge for lunch in our old hometown and then journeyed to their new home to see it for the first time. While there Ron said he had found Mom & Dad's old autograph books tucked away in a box and wondered if I wanted them.

Well, of course I did! That's Dad's at the top. The cover reads: "Class Autographs". Inside on the first page for autographs is penned: "Just a remembrance from, The Highland School." Highland was the country school in Adams County Dad attended until the spring of 1929 when the family moved to Taylor County where Dad went to Spaulding School. You can see a picture of him at that time and a story about the school here.
There are six autographs from his school mates and one from his teacher. I wish 'Chester' had signed his last name. I can't think of any Chester's in that area at that time. He asks, "Don't you wish you could stay with your school mates?" And refers to the 'fun we've had'.
The Hoyt sisters didn't have much to say, but their brother Ed penned, "Dear Louis, I hate to see you leave such a good Friend as you have here. If you get in trouble this (sic) [did he mean 'just'] get this book out and think of me. Your school Friend, Edward L. Hoyt" Interesting how he capitalized Friend both times and signed his full name. I know he and Dad did remain friends because I remember Dad going to see him throughout my childhood.

The title of today's post is part of what both Hoyt sisters used in their autographs in Dad's book. I am not certain because there's nothing written on the back, but I believe this picture is of left to right, Jeanette, Edward and Josephine Hoyt. That's our dad, Louis, in the back. It was these children's grandparents who originally gave the land for the Highland Church and Highland School. The two buildings were located next to each other. There was also a post office in the Hoyt home for many years serving the area families.

The teacher penned my favorite page of Dad's book. She wrote: "Dear Louis, In the length of time which I've had you as a pupil I can rightfully say it has given me pleasure and joy. Let me commend you upon your high scholastic standing -- and keep it up!
All of us hope you like your new friends as well as we like you. Hoping that you gain the best that this world affords, I am, Your's for success, Lois Wilmarth."

It is nice to know of Dad's 'high scholastic standing'. I think because I grew up hearing he quit high school half way through his freshman year because he "got into trouble", I always assumed he wasn't a very good student.

I love these glimpses into my parents' young lives. Tomorrow, more about Mom's autograph book.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pippa's Song, Or, Welcome to Spring

"The year's at the spring and day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven; The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing; The snail's on the thorn:
God's in His heaven - All's right with the world."
(From Robert Browning's 'Pippa Passes')

I went out looking for signs of a change in the seasons on this first day of Spring and found none until I walked into Walmart and saw a display of plants for sale - even some big pots of single tomato plants already a foot and half tall. They weren't out where the plants usually are in the spring - it's still too cold, even though we are having a very welcome warm day today. (60+ degrees)

I thought if I raked the leaf cover off the daffodils I would find them looking something like this picture which was taken last March 28. Nope. Not a sign of them.

Remember that mild winter two years ago? Here are those same daffodils almost blooming on St. Patrick's Day that year.

March 16, 2012 and the willows were already greening - always one of my harbingers of spring. No green on the willows to be found yet.

Mama & Papa goose are back on the pond and though Mama isn't on the nest yet and we're still a month or so away from having baby goslings, just having the parents present is reason enough to hope.

The weather here is supposed to be nice for one more day before turning cold again for the coming week. I haven't begun packing yet, but sometime in the next couple of weeks we're going to begin chasing spring with a trip to the Gulf Coast. Surely there will be dogwoods and redbuds in bloom in Arkansas or Tennessee and azaleas and rhododendrons in Alabama and Florida? By the time we return the daffodils will be blooming here, won't they?

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn." (Hal Borland)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Left Foot

I have admired the acting abilities of Daniel Day-Lewis from the time I saw him in My Left Foot, the story of Christy Brown in 1989 up to and including his academy award winning portrayal of

Abraham Lincoln in last year's Lincoln. In my opinion, he is one of the all-time great actors.

But this post isn't about the actor or the films he has been in. It is about my left foot (and knee and shoulder and eye and ear) and how I always felt so different from my brother and sister and those kids I went to school with at Jasper # 2.

Back around when I was this age - about nine or ten - I decided during those long, dawdling walks home from school that as long as I felt different, I would strive to be different. One of those ways was whenever I was given the choice in a coin toss to choose odds or evens, since almost everyone else would choose even, I would always choose odd. (Duh, because I thought I was odd.) The other thing I would do was favor left over right. No, I wasn't left handed, but I started wishing I were. What was it they said when men began getting an ear pierced back in the 80's? Right is wrong and left is right?

It was around this same age I became aware that my left foot was a half size larger than the right foot. Perhaps Mom had already realized there was some difference, but it was clearly visible when my feet were placed in the shoe fitting fluoroscope at the local 'Bootery'. I remember being so excited that I finally got to put my feet in that exotic looking behemoth. I could see my feet through the porthole on my side while Mom and the shoe fit salesperson could look through the two portholes on the other side. The difference in the length of my feet was obvious.

Up until then I had been measured for shoes using the Brannock Device which measured length and width. It was kinda' fun to be measured this way, but not nearly as exciting as seeing my feet in that fluoroscope. I do remember some difference between the right and left foot being noted while being measured this way, but Mom and the shoe salesman thought I just didn't have my heel clear back against the end as I was supposed to.

When I first needed glasses around age twelve, it was because of my left eye. The same eye in which I developed Cystoid Macular Edema after cataract surgery last fall. Wearing glasses most of my life, I have always been aware that they had to be fitted what I termed, cock-eyed, in order to fit right. It was only recently that I realized it is because my left ear is larger and higher.

When I had to have shoulder replacement three years ago, it was my left shoulder. And now that knee replacement looms nearer, even though both knees give me fits, the left one bothers me the most.

Oh, yeah, and that stroke I had last April - it was on the left cerebral cortex. Ten-year-old me just didn't realize what favoring her left side meant, did she?