In July, 1944, I was just a few days past my third birthday and we lived in Johnson Bottom. One day, somebody came to the front door and, as was my usual custom, I ran and hid. Yes, there was a time when I was actually shy. I was hiding behind the old stove in one of the bedrooms but had a good view of what was going on in the living room. A man was showing Mother some kind of papers. I remember he had on a light, tweedy, blue and grey suit jacket and his black shoes were very shiny. The man saw me peeking from behind the stove and he winked at me. He was sitting on the arm of one of the living room chairs and Mother was standing. After he left, I ran to the living room to see what was going on. Mother had a black book in her hand and was flipping through it. When she put it down, I started looking at the pictures in the front and back of it. They were all pictures of yummy-looking food and my mouth watered just looking at them.

Over the years I came to realize that it was a cookbook and saw Mother use it hundreds of times. There were recipes for just about everything imaginable and there was even a recipe for marshmallows. Boy, Mother made good marshmallows! Some of the other recipes she used were for Yeast-Raised Glazed Doughnuts, a One-Egg Cake and many, many other goodies. I remember as a teenager, I would look at that book for hours on end trying to imagine all the recipes I would try if I only had the ingredients. Many times, Lena and I planned menus for full meals that we made only in our minds. By then, the cookbook was dog-eared and ragged and the tabs separating the sections were worn off but Mother still used it as often as ever. That might have been where she got the recipe for the blackberry cake that I remember so well.

I was at Merkie's house one day in 1957 and Cassell was getting ready to make fudge. He had the same kind of cookbook that Mother had. When I mentioned it to him, he told me he was selling magazines years ago and had sold The Saturday Evening Post to Mother. The cookbook was a bonus for buying the magazine. I remembered looking at that magazine for the time that Mother got it and saw many Norman Rockwell paintings on the covers. I realized then that I had actually met Cassell thirteen years before!

After his Mother died, Cassell gave her cookbook to me and I used it for many years and got to make the recipes I had dreamed about when I was growing up. I was looking through it one day and saw a recipe for Orange Cake. Beside the recipe, in Cassell's handwriting was,

"My favorite cake, no more will I bake. A poet I ain't."

When I asked him about it, Cassell said he had made that cake just after he got the cookbook. The recipe called for grated orange rind and he had no idea about how to grate orange rind. He told me he took two sand rocks and beat the orange rind until it looked right. The cake smelled and looked so good! Cassell told me there was more sand in it than orange rind and he vowed never to make it again. After finding out he liked orange cake, I made it many times over the years and topped it with a fluffy icing sprinkled with toasted coconut and he loved it! I made it once for Luke and so did he. The book had the best recipe for Peanut-Butter Fudge - Tim's favorite - and I just about wore that page out.

Yes, that old cookbook made a lot of fond memories for me - and some good food for all of us. I don't know what happened to Mother's but I hope one of the kids has it. Merkie's now lives at Rocky's house. I gave it to him after he got married and I know it has a good home.

Kathleen McCoy Eldridge©
May 20, 2005
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