Sunday, May 27, 2012

Between the Pages

by Sandra Heska King

Sometimes fun stuff hides in the yellowed pages of old books. Like this well-used cookbook that belonged to my mother-in-law and holds many ink-altered recipes.

Mom loved to entertain and often had small groups in her (now our) home. In fact, she had two kitchens because the family lived in the basement for a year while the upstairs was remodeled. I still mourn the loss of pocket doors and wood floors and glass doorknobs and especially the beautiful old molding and corner blocks. Mom wanted modern.

Anyway, she helped serve 190 people at the Charlotte Grange fried chicken supper on October 14, 1941. Apparently, they ran out of chicken and potatoes, so if you got there late, you might have had to fill up on cottage cheese and applesauce--and maybe some pie. I think it's interesting that they diluted whipping cream for coffee.

But my favorite is the plan for the Kieser Farm Face Lifting Lunch on September 15, 1949--planned for 1000 people.

I wonder what a farm face lifting is.

The menu included barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, fried cakes, home made pies, ice cream, coffee, potato chips, candy, and gum. She seems to have forgotten any fruit or veggies. And how do you eat barbecue sandwiches when you run out of buns? I suppose they used the more expensive hot dog buns.

They got the buns from Holsum Bread Company. I followed a rabbit trail to learn a little about the company. It's got kind of a fun history. And I learned that "the inner part of the bread encased by the crust is called the 'crumb'. This is why small bits of this part of the bread are called crumbs." And that the average American student will have consumed 1500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches upon graduation from high school.

Anyway, the next time I want to serve a large crowd, I've got blueprints already on hand, including Mrs. Fulton's barbecue recipe for 250 buns.

When I turned the page over, I found the whole table setup for the affair.

The barbecue and hot dog stoves and supplies were set up on the east end and the coffee supplies and stoves on the west. She stacked the supply of pies and fried cakes in the center. People were assigned serving stations, including my sister-in-law who had charge of one of the ice cream cup tables. She would have been about ten years old. I asked my husband what he did, but he didn't remember. He was four days shy of his second birthday.

The stream of people must have moved efficiently down each side picking up gum and candy first. I'll bet the kids loved that. Then you got your barbecue, hot dogs, mustard and catsup, potato chips and/or fried cakes, pie, ice cream, and coffee. Then you stopped at the cashier, so the shindig wasn't free.

But Mom, where's the Kool-Aid? 

Another rabbit trail for some fun history facts. Did you know Kool-Aid was first called Fruit Smack? And that the man who invented it also developed a product called Nix-O-Tine to put the smack-down on cigarette smoking?

Now where was I?

I don't know, but over here in the corner is a recipe for Vickie's prize-winning pie. I think it says something about grasshoppers.

What interesting stuff have you found in the pages of an old book?


  1. Okay - this us WAY too fun! Love stories like this.

  2. How interesting! Thanks for sharing this, Sandy.

  3. What an absolute treasure! The didn't eat very healthy in the 50's and 60's...but they sure knew how to throw a party!

  4. I loved this story. We live in the house that my grandparents built in the late 1920s. They also lived in the basement while the upper floors were being finished, my grandfather doing the work himself. We found receipts from when the house was built, and the original blueprints. We also have the Sears catalog from that time, and our swinging French doors cost $5 apiece!!! We still have all of the beautiful oak woodwork and glass doorknobs, and the charm of the home remains the same. All of my memories are contained in this house, including my grandmother's "recipes!" There was nothing like what you found for those large gatherings, but very interesting notations, and numerous handwritten recipes. Thanks for sharing a piece of your past. It paralleled mine a bit.

    Nancee in Michigan

  5. What fun! And choc full of historic tidbits. I was gobsmacked to learn KoolAid was once Fruit Smacks. Oh, and that whole veggies and fruit thing - I guess that's what the main diet was back then and the meat was specialty - what do you think?


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