Sunday is the day I usually go shopping. I am not shopping today for obvious reasons so I turned my attention to my cluttered attic kneewall.
Near the kneewall door on top of the box of old family bibles I cannot bear to throw away but also don’t know what to do with was a purple bag holding dollhouse furniture from the 50s and 60s. The furniture came with a vintage dollhouse that my mom gave my daughter one Christmas, thinking it was worth money. It may have been, but Clare never really liked it. We donated the dollhouse a few years ago, but kept the furniture. It’s dusty and dirty from years in the kneewall and then more time in a bag that once held muddy boots.
I remembered I’d bought a mini light box, fished it out and decided to take photos of the furniture and the couple who lived in the dollhouse. There is more furniture in another dollhouse that we still have. If this isolation period goes on long enough, you’ll see that too!
As we near the end of our kitchen renovation (yes, I will write about that here. Someday.) I am going through stacks of papers that we had in the bookshelf of the old kitchen. Today’s item is a ragged, yellowed-with-age recipe for a mint julep that I clipped from the Washington Post back when we lived in Alexandria and had a plentiful amount of mint growing in our yard.
No sampling of bourbon recipes can omit instructions for making a mint julep, a powerful drink that visitors to Kentucky generally find themselves drinking very slowly. A silver julep cup is the ideal vessel for serving the drink as it can be chilled so well, but a glass tumbler does quite nicely in a pinch. This and the following two recipes (not shown here) have been adapted from Marion Flexner’s superb cookbook “Out of Kentucky Kitchens,” published in 1949.
1 teaspoon superfine sugar (or more, to taste)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon water
Shaved or crushed ice to fill the goblet
1 to 2 ounces Kentucky bourbon
Few sprigs of fresh mint
Place the sugar and chopped mint in a small bowl. Bruise the mint well with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, until the mixture becomes paste-like. Add the water and stir into a thickish green syrup. Fill a julep cup or glass half full of shaved ice. Pour the mint syrup and then the bourbon to taste over the ice. Fill the glass to the top with additional ice and garnish with sprigs of mint. Just before serving imbed a straw deeply into the crushed ice and cut it to the approximate height of the mint.
I must have made this recipe. In fact I think I did and decided that I was not a fan of mint juleps. I really should try again. Maybe in early May of next year.
When I was in 6th grade (and beyond) I had a crush on a boy named Jeff. For years I wondered what happened to him and finally found him via his grandfather’s obituary. We emailed and texted a bit — our mutual friend, Carol, was much more excited to have found Jeff alive and well.
I remember his family was well-to-do, at least more-so than mine.
I’ve kept some photographs of him, and at least one thing he drew on a notebook of mine. I know he’s mentioned in my online journals too.
As I find more photos and things I will add them here.
I found this old postcard among Mom’s things. According to Wikipedia, “The Elgin and Belvidere Electric Company was a 36-mile (58 km) interurban line that connected Belvidere, Illinois and Elgin, Illinois.”
Wikipedia briefly mentions the strike, saying “[Bion J.] Arnold [the owner] himself was heavily involved in the line’s construction and management, and at one point operated the cars himself during a strike.”
I cannot find anything else about the wreck and strike on the Internet.
A faux alligator skin briefcase sat unopened in Mom’s attic for several years. I brought the briefcase home after one trip to Elgin. Its contents were a jumble of receipts for a Harriet G. Switzer of 270 Watch St. Elgin, Illinois; a newspaper clipping about a meeting featuring Seaborn Wright ((which has been published in a book called Atlanta Beer: A Heady History of Brewing In the Hub of the South)), a well-preserved Switzer family tree ; and tatting thread, needles and some unfinished bits of lace. I’ve carefully untangled the thread, stored it and the needles with my grandmother’s tatting supplies, I blogged about the newspaper clipping and now I want to discover who Harriet was.
According to Ancestry dot com, Harriet was born Harriet G. Van Volkenburg to Nancy Plummer and John Van Velkenburg in Hampshire, Illinois, September 1871. She married Howard Switzer on January 1, 1889. By the turn of the century Harriet and Howard, still living in Hampshire, Illinois, had two sons, Albert (9) and Elmer (1). Howard made a living at farming. Tragically, Howard died in 1904 at the age of 48.
The 1910 census lists Harriet as living with her 19 and 11 year old sons at 366 Yarwood Street in Elgin, Illinois. She is listed as being employed by the nearby Elgin Watch Factory as a polisher. Albert is listed as being a carpenter. Another tragedy befell the family when, in 1918, Albert, by then a farmer, died in Hampshire.
In 1920 Harriet and her son, Elmer were living at 332 St. Charles Street. Harriet still worked for the Watch Factory, but was now a “piece worker.” Elmer worked as a truck driver for a thread factory ((which was likely Collingbourne Mills, the same factory my Grandpa Green sold thread for and where Hyman Herron worked in the shipping department.)). In August of 1920 Elmer married Emma Sommerfeldt.
By July of 1921 Harriet had moved again, this time to 270 Watch Street. According to the 1930 census she owned this home. Harriet began furnishing her home with flooring, rugs and furniture from the Wait and Ross Furniture Company and A. Leith & Company ((I cannot find any mention of this company on the Internet)).
Harriet not only furnished her home, but she hired O (?). W. Bayliss (Bayless?) to do some work around her house on 3 separate occasions beginning July 1, 1921.
She bought something from H. B. Cornwall in November 1921 for $40.
In March of 1923 she bought insurance from Ellis and Western for $12.
In March of 1924 she bought 3 years worth of tornado insurance worth $1250 from Edward F. Prideaux for $5.00.
In 1930, Harriet, now 59 years old worked in the spring department of the Watch Factory. Her home was worth $5000 according to the census.
Harriet continued to live on Watch Street until her death in 1943. She is buried in a small cemetery outside Hampshire called “Old Starks Cemetery.”
It’s been fun spending a morning and part of an afternoon learning about Harriet’s life. I’m glad she spent her last 20 or so years in her own house.
My mother had a mix of cheap costume jewelry and some more expensive items and after she died I was less interested in the expensive items and more interested in anything with sentimental value. I know her father gave her a heart shaped locket when she turned 16, so I took that and a few other necklaces that I knew she liked.
One of these items was a mystery. It was a large gold-toned cross on a long chain. My mother was not all that religious and I had not remembered ever seeing her wear it. I almost dismissed it and left it at the house to be sold with her other things, but I decided to take it because it looked old and I wondered if it might have belonged to my Grandma Patrick. I had no reason, except its age and the fact that my father’s mother was quite religious to suspect it was hers, but I didn’t want to leave it there in case it was. The one thing that threw me though, was that the chain looked newer than the cross and cheap compared to the cross so I was not completely convinced that 1) it was old or 2) had belonged to my grandmother.
A few months after bringing the cross home I was looking at some photos that I’d scanned. One of them was an old photo of my Grandma Patrick when she was maybe 16 or 17 years old. I noticed she was wearing a long necklace and when I enlarged the photo I knew the cross was hers!
Not being all that religious myself, I don’t know when I will wear it, but I am glad I didn’t leave it at the house.