Thursday, May 31, 2012

Great American Road Trip, circa 1936: Part 1

In the box of photos and documents I went through last week, I found several clues as to the years Genevieve was teaching, which helps me narrow down the year my grandparents got married. (I know that when she got married, she had to resign her teaching position for "someone who needed it," as she always said.) From the last post, I know she was teaching in Evansville in 1929. I found her high school diploma, her original diploma from the Whitewater Normal School, and also a second diploma from Whitewater that they awarded her in 1938, presumably after she had completed enough continuing education or fulfilled enough teaching years to earn a full four-year degree? So sometime between 1938 and 1948, when my dad was born, she met and married my grandfather.

But before that, on summer break in 1936, she went on what I can only assume was a pretty amazing road trip. She and Corinne, along with two other teacher friends, decided to use part of their three months off to make a road trip from Wisconsin to New York City. Think about that for a moment. It was the middle of the Great Depression. Throughout the country, people were out of work and wandering the country aimlessly in search of employment, but traditional tourist travel was significantly curtailed. Those who were still economically sound enough to travel preferred to do so on the decade's new streamliner trains. It was 20 years before the invention of the interstate system would make the Great American Road Trip the vacation of choice for the middle class. Roads were two-lane, often poorly kept up due to Depression cutbacks, and flat tires were a frequent problem. Cars themselves were heavy, physically demanding to drive (before the invention of power brakes and power steering, it took real strength to drive a car.) It was only six years after the first commercial car radio was invented, and it's unlikely that Gen and Corinne's expedition had one for that long trip. It was three years before the earliest air conditioners were installed in cars, and twenty years before air conditioning was widely available. The trip was undoubtedly too hot or too cold, bumpy, long and at times, monotonous. And they were limited to at most three drivers, because Genevieve lived her whole life without getting a driver's license or learning to drive. And yet, from the photos I uncovered last weekend, they look like they had a ball.

Somewhere in the Midwest. Corinne is second from left, Genevieve is on the right. I assume that's the car they took. Anyone have a guess as to year/make/model?

They drove through Chicago, across Indiana, Ohio. They stopped in Toledo to visit a friend named Max. (Whose friend he was, or how she knew him remains a mystery.)

The road trippers visiting a friend named Max in Toledo.

While in Ohio visiting Max, it looks like they stayed in quaint little cabins.

Max with the teacher friends.

Gen and Corinne in front of the cabin they likely shared.

Once they left Ohio, their itinerary gets a little hazy. They definitely took the southern route through Cleveland and Pennsylvania in one direction, and the northern route, through Niagara Falls, in the other. But I can't tell yet if they went north first and south home or vice versa. It's purely a hunch, but I suspect they took the southerly route on the way out east. While in Pennsylvania, they stopped at something called Baker Caverns in Pennsylvania, which advertises itself as being "7 miles south of Chambersburg." (I have the tourist brochure, but haven't gotten it scanned yet. Since I will be visiting Chambersburg for the first time in about a month for my friend Emily's wedding, I took particular interest in it.)

And then... New York City.
Genevieve bought this souvenir guide for 25 cents. It is full of black and white photos of historic sites.

Judging by the photos from this part of the trip, they were having too much fun sightseeing to take many photos. And the ones they did take just have generic city scenes in the background.

New York City, 1936

Possibly the place they stayed in New York City?

There's a snapshot in the bunch of an older lady on the street that I'm thinking might be an early street fashion shot?

Watch out, Sartorialist. My grandma beat you to the punch by 70 years.

Though there aren't many snapshots from New York City, there are plenty of brochures, souvenirs and guides, so I imagine they painted the town. They were there the week of June 21st to June 27th, 1936.

Cover of a brochure guide to everything that was happening in New York the week they were there.

Plays that were up at that time include a comedy called "Boy Meets Girl" that was getting a lot of publicity and the drama, "The Children's Hour." There was one musical showing that week and it was "On Your Toes." (For those who may be interested, I scanned the whole brochure and posted it on Flickr.) Movies that were showing included Sins of Man ("Fine character study of Tyrolean bell-ringer whose ambitions for his sons are unrealized,") Trouble for Two (with Robert Montgomery and Ros Russell,) and Dancing Pirate ("Rollicking tale of Spanish California - all Technicolor dancing musical.") Stores they may have visited included: Abercrombie and Fitch Co., Bergdorf-Goodman, Gimbels, Henri Bendel Inc., Macy's, Putnam Book Shop, Saks-Fifth Avenue and Saks-34th Street, and Stern Bros., among others. (Shopping columnist Viriginia S. Zelius writes, "It's Lanvin's Basque cardigan at Bonwit Teller's. Like a man's sports jacket - the type of jacket for which you'd expect to pay at least half again as much. You can wear it with your sports dresses, or over your culottes.")

Taxi fare at the time was 20 cents for the first 1/4-mile and 5 cents for each additional 3/4-mile. At the time, there were only four main subway lines. They were known as the Eighth Ave. line, the Lexington Ave. line, the Broadway-7th Ave. line, and the B.M.T. subway express from Brooklyn, which went over the Manhattan Bridge. There were also still four elevated railway lines. (Interesting note: If you were a very wealthy person and could afford to fly, there were seven small airfields serving New York City at that time. A trip to Miami on Eastern Airlines would take you 8 hours, and you'd stop in Washington, DC, Raleigh, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville and Atlanta.) Finally, there were four Gray Line sightseeing bus tours operating at the time: New York, Chinatown, Harlem night life and a day trip to West Point.

Speaking of sightseeing, next time I'll show you some great photos of their trip to Niagara Falls!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Picture Day 1929

I had one more big box to go through in the basement that I knew was going to be a treasure trove of old family photos and documents. But the box was so big and I was already swimming in family photos and documents... I think I had been putting it off. Well, I've finally managed to dive into it and I'm finding so much great stuff! Particularly about my Grandma Genevieve and her childhood/early adult life.

Remember in the post about her time as a teacher during the Depression, I mentioned that her first teaching placement was in Evansville, WI, a small town west of Janesville? Well, I found her class picture there from the 1929-1930 school year. She taught first grade that year and had 36 students in her class.

On the back, she has them all listed. Do you know any of these little ones?

Left to right: 
First row: Bernice Mathias, Dolores Vreeland, Betty Armbruster, Joyce Bone, Ellen Robinson, Martha Hatling, Virginia parsons, Betty Groh, Jeanne Laschinsky, Gwendolyn McCaslin.
Second row: Alwyn Utzig, Robert Gibbs, Dan Papanz, Harlan Driscoll, Edward Jessessby, Lysle Graham, Lyle Sinnett, Eldon Hoague, Jimmie Johnson.
Third Row: Robert (Buzz) Fellows, Gordon Jorgenson, Phillip Olson, Herman Staller, Robert Olsen, Wayne Hatlenig, Frank Clark.
Fourth row: Robert Kelly, Victor Jenson, John Antes, LaVerne Paulson, Marvin Devlin, Judd Pearsall, Friderich Voegele, Theodore Jackson.
Absent: Vera Trunkhill, Oscar Cole (desceased?)

Interesting sidenote: The photo was taken in November, 1929, which means this would have been no more than four weeks after the Great Stock Market Crash. But as we know, the Stock Market crash followed a decade of agricultural Depression that hit rural Wisconsin particularly hard. You can see that, even dressed in their best clothes for picture day, some of the children are wearing ill-fitting and well-worn clothes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Recipes: Marion Huml's Stroganoff

Once again, I have no idea who Marion Huml is, but she sounds German, so I assume she knew her Stroganoff. As always, if anyone is bold enough to make these recipes, please take pictures and send them to me!

Marion Huml's Stroganoff

3 lbs. round steak (cut up into small pieces)
2 garlic buds
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Accent
2 sm cream cheese
2 cans of mushrooms
6 oz. sherry

Brown meat in butter. Add garlic, salt, and sherry. Cover with water and cook until tender. Soften cheese with some juice from the meat. Stir until smooth and add this to the meat. Add mushrooms, drained. Thicken as much as needed.

Note: I'm not sure what "Accent" is or what "small" cream cheese equates to these days. Anyone with information on this, please comment!

Update: A brilliant and vigilant reader who follows us on  Twitter tracked down the spice known as Accent. To quote her, "It seems to be a cross between salt and MSG. Yum."

Update #2: A chef friend has this to add about Accent: "Accent is just MSG. You don't actually need it though, or if you're one of those crazy food people like me, you can substitute umami paste. It does the same thing, without the headaches." 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Winky the Monkey

A brief addendum to the previous post: the book that Genevieve used to teach me how to read was an old primer from her days as a kindergarten teacher called Winky, which was published by Quinlan in 1939. It's a sort of Dick-and-Jane-esque story, with one important twist: instead of the boring daily lives poor Dick and Jane suffered through, the children in this book go in their backyard one day and find a PET MONKEY IN A BELLHOP UNIFORM.  The monkey's name is Winky, and they spend much of the book marveling at the things Winky can do. "See Winky run!" "See Winky jump!" "See Winky ride!" are frequently repeated phrases, as I recall.

From this decidedly wacky early literary exposure, I went on to be a creative writing major and a professional writer and editor as an adult. Coincidence?

I still have Genevieve's old copy of Winky somewhere, but I haven't turned it up yet, so these photos from an online book dealer will have to suffice. Of them, I think this last one is my favorite. Mother, in her sunny yellow dress, reading a book in an Adirondack chair, listening benevolently while her youngest son asks if the MONKEY IN THE BELLHOP UNIFORM he found in the backyard can go to school. And all the while, Winky staring imploringly into her eyes.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A wonderful, wonderful teacher

Genevieve (left) and Corinne during their teaching days

By the time the Stock Market actually crashed in 1929, Genevieve had already known a decade of privation on the farm, which is perhaps what led her to pursue a teaching degree. Or possibly it's just that she came from a family that highly valued education, long before it was in vogue for women to be educated. (As we'll see later, her two aunts, including Corinne's mother, had been teachers in Elkhorn as young women.) As a result, both Genevieve and Corinne decided to attend teacher's college. Genevieve went to Whitewater Normal School (now UW-Whitewater) and Corinne attended the Wisconsin State Teacher's College (now UW-Milwaukee.)

A few years ago, I wrote an article about the history of UW-Whitewater and the important role the teacher's colleges played in the state educational system and in the education of women in general:

The school began as the Whitewater Normal School in 1868, when a large crowd of Whitewater businesspeople and politicians gathered to dedicate the fledgling teacher’s college. The school was intended to train teachers at both the elementary and secondary level, and was one of several normal schools chartered throughout the state of Wisconsin following a state legislative decision in 1865 to locate one normal school in each congressional district.

Normal schools, which got their name from their French counterparts, the Écoles Normales, were intended to "normalize," -- or in modern parlance, standardize -- teaching practices. They proliferated in the aftermath of Horace Mann’s educational reforms of the 1840s, which called for a strong push toward universal public education in the United States.

In Wisconsin, the normal schools had a close relationship with the University of Wisconsin. The original charter for the University in 1848 contained a provision to include a normal school, but financial concerns and disagreement about admitting women to the institution bogged down plans to enact that provision. During the interim time, individual congressional districts began to establish their own normal schools as a response to a local need for teachers, so that by 1865 legislation was necessary to establish the one-per-district precedent.

In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, the Wisconsin State Legislature awarded charters for the normal schools to individual locations. In fact, the formation of a normal college within the University of Wisconsin (now UW-Madison) in 1866 is what finally prompted the university to admit women to what had previously been an all-male institution — though for two more years, the university operated a separate “female college” within the normal college, choosing to run every lecture twice daily, once for men and again for women -- until they abandoned the practice and integrated the classes in 1868. 

Like most normal schools of the time, the program Genevieve completed at Whitewater was a two-year program. But I believe Corinne's program in Milwaukee had recently expanded to a four-year program. According to Wikipedia, the Wisconsin State Teacher's College was a leader in teacher training at the time Corinne would have been there: "Known for its innovative and experimental programs in teacher education, the Wisconsin State Teacher’s College was a national prominence at that time and was considered one of the top teacher training colleges in the nation..." (Golda Meir, former prime minister of Israel, was an alumna.)

When Genevieve finished college, she accepted a placement teaching in Evansville, Wisconsin, a small town west of Janesville. The 1930 census tells me that while she lived there, she lodged with a family whose last name was Green. I don't know if she spent one or two school years there, but she always referred to those years as very lonely. As someone who never got a driver's license, she didn't like being so isolated and far from home. So I imagine it was a great relief to her when she was offered a teaching position at an elementary school in Lake Geneva, much closer to her extended family. She was the kindergarten teacher at the Third Ward School in Lake Geneva - a K-3 school located on Henry Street. (It is now the Lake Geneva American Legion building.)
The Third Ward School in Lake Geneva was a four-room, K-3 school in Lake Geneva from the 19th century through the 1960s. Now it is the home of the American Legion in Lake Geneva.

I went to the library to try to learn a little about the history of the Third Ward School, and the record is remarkably silent on the subject. An 1882 "History of Walworth County" mentions a school "near the fire-house" -- Third Ward was practically across the street from the Lake Geneva fire station -- but it doesn't say anything about when that school was built or what it looked like, so I can't be sure it's the same school (though I suspect it is.) My dad went to the Third Ward School for first, second and third grade, so I know it was still in use in the 1950s - to the best of his memory, it didn't close until the mid-1960s, but he's not certain. 

 The back of the Third Ward School in Lake Geneva - I believe this was the main door when it was a school.

I'm not positive on the dates, but I believe Genevieve would have started teaching there around 1932, and she worked there until she married my grandfather, at which point she was expected to vacate the position for "someone who needed it." (Ah, how far we've come in such a short time - now working families can't even get by without two wage earners.) 

As crazy as this sounds, I have still not been able to find out when my grandparents were married. (They divorced in 1976, and I never met my grandfather.) But I believe they were married in the late 1930s or early 1940s. One of the few things I know about my grandfather was that he had had tuberculosis as a young man and that the army wouldn't take him during World War II as a result. As one of the few men of eligible marrying age in the town during that time, perhaps he looked especially appealing to Genevieve. I will probably never know things like how they met or what drew them together, though I can say from photographs that he was a handsome man in his younger days, and probably the fact that he was a lawyer in Lake Geneva was a selling point as well. 

So when she got married, Genevieve retired from teaching, but her legacy lived on through the kids she taught. When I was working at the Barrett Memorial Library in Williams  Bay in 2008, one of my co-workers, a woman who was close to 80 years old at the time, asked me if my grandmother's maiden name had been Potter. When I said yes, she said, "Your grandma was my kindergarten teacher. She was a wonderful, wonderful teacher."

"I know," I said. "She taught me how to read." Because, of course, though Genevieve retired from teaching, she never really gave it up. She just waited for the right pupils to come along; first my dad, and then me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Recipes: Mother's Cinnamon Rolls

Speaking of recipes, here's another one from Genevieve's recipe box. It's in her handwriting, so in this case, I assume "Mother" refers to her mother, Ora.

Mother's Cinnamon Rolls

1 1/2 cups milk (scalded)

When cool, dissolve 1 comp. yeast cake* in luke warm milk. Add 1/3 c. sugar , 1 1/4 teas. salt, 1/2 c. shortening, 2 eggs. About 4 cups flour. Make soft dough. Let double bulk. Knead down. Raise again. Make into rolls.

Roll out dough 1/2 in. thick. Spread with melted butter, sugar and cinnamon  roll up and cut off in rolls. Raise until light. Bake.

*Yeast cakes are fresh active yeast, sold in tiny cakes in the refrigerated section of many grocery stores. Fresh yeast is highly perishable and should be treated as such. Alternatively, the experts at inform me that you can substitute one package of dry active yeast for one yeast cake, but then you wouldn't exactly be making Ora's cinnamon rolls, would you?

Monday, May 7, 2012

"We had nothing, but we always had plenty to eat."

Genevieve hardly ever talked about growing up on the farm on Potters Road during the Depression. I know she attended a one-room schoolhouse and rode a pony to get there -- there was a hitching post out front where the kids would tie them up during the day.

 The one-room schoolhouse Genevieve attended on Potters Road still stands today -- 
now it is the Spring Prairie Town Hall.
The Spring Prairie Town Hall did indeed used to be a school. It was built in 1895 on land that Genevieve's great-grandfather Joseph Potter must have given or sold to the village. But it's not the school that Genevieve attended. I am told that school was at the corner of Bowers Road and Highway 11.
Both Gen and Corinne showed signs of Depression-era trauma for the rest of their lives, obsessively saving and reusing things -- even note paper, until there wasn't any white space left on the page. When Corinne passed away, there were about 30 years' worth of National Geographic magazines stacked neatly in her attic; Genevieve had a similar collection of newspapers in her garage when we cleaned out her house. They both lived in modest houses all their lives and stuffed them to the gills with things that might be needed one day: things like Kleenex, soap, pencils... the little necessities we take for granted and run to Wal-greens to pick up every day just for something to do.

I can only imagine what kind of deprivation led to these lifelong habits. My mom remembers Genevieve telling her that they considered themselves lucky during the Depression, because although they had nothing -- honestly nothing -- they always had enough food to eat thanks to the farm. I've been reading Studs Terkel's Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression recently, and I have found that this was a very common experience in the rural Midwest. The Stock Market Crash of 1929 didn't come out of the blue; it followed a decade of agricultural Depression, where large surpluses led to diminishing prices at a time when farmers found themselves burdened by debt (all of which was related to World War I.) During the 1920s, more than 600,000 farmers went bankrupt. And then the Stock Market crashed. Two of the interviewees from Studs Terkel's book put this in perspective:

"The struggles people had to go through are almost unbelievable. A man lived all his life on a given farm, it was taken away from him. One after the other. After the foreclosure, they got a deficiency judgment. Not only did he lose the farm, but it was impossible for him to get out of debt."'

"He recounts the first farm depression of the Twenties: "We give the land back to the mortgage holder and then we're sued for the remainder -- the deficiency judgment -- which we have to pay." After the land boom of the early Twenties, the values declined constantly, until the last years of the decade. "In '28, '29, when it looked like we could see a little blue sky again, we're just getting caught up with the back interest, the Thirties Depression hit."

... "Grain was  being burned. It was cheaper than coal. Corn was being burned. A county just east of here, they burned corn in their courthouse all winter. '32, '33. You couldn't hardly buy groceries for corn. It couldn't pay transportation." - Harry Terrell

And yet, there were those like Genevieve who considered the challenges of farm life the best option available:  

"I was young and didn't pay no attention to it. I didn't get the clothes or the underwear or stuff like that, but the eatin' part was good. I'd rather be back on the farm than anything I ever done." - Aaron Barkham

Genevieve's parents were lucky; they didn't lose their farm. In fact, her brother continued to operate it right up until he retired. In fact, as of last year, 98% of farms in Wisconsin were still family farms -- a truly incredible number in these days of corporate agri-business dominating the industry. But that statistic is in grave jeopardy.

Many of the recipes in Gen's recipe box seem to date from the Depression. I can understand how living through an era where you had no material goods but plenty to eat would make you a little obsessive about food and the many various ways to prepare it. Perhaps this explains why even when she was in the nursing home and had long since given up cooking that Genevieve would ask, somewhat obsessively, "You know where my recipe box is, don't you? We still have it?"

I wish I could tell her that we do indeed still have it, and that's I'm working on sharing its contents with all of you.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Origins of the project: Corinne's scrapbooks

A scrapbook that Corinne's mother Edna made in the 1930s full of newspaper clippings about the pioneer settlers of Spring Prairie, Wis.

Growing up on a farm in rural Wisconsin in the first part of the 20th century, your social network was understandably limited. My grandma Genevieve had one sibling, a brother named Warren, but he was seven years younger than she was and I never got the feeling that they were particularly close. (Warren was still living on the family farm just a few miles away when Genevieve passed away in 1999, and yet I had only met him a handful of times.) So it's not too surprising that she was very close with her first cousins.

Genevieve's mother Ora (lots more on her later) was one of three sisters: the Vaughn girls. All of the Vaughn girls were close in age, and all of them had children around the same time: Hattie (the oldest) had Harriet in 1905 and Lorraine in 1909. Ora had Genevieve in 1910 and Edna had Corinne in 1912. Though Harriet and Lorraine initially lived in Milwaukee (until their father passed away, when they moved back in with Grandma and Grandpa Vaughn), and Edna and Corinne moved 120 miles away to Manitowoc in 1918 or so, the cousins grew close through regular visits to their grandparents' house in the summers.

Genevieve and Corinne remained close all through their lives, mostly through letters sent back and forth. When Genevieve passed away, I felt compelled to keep up the correspondence with Corinne, who was an only child and had no children of her own (we had a lot in common that way.) Every couple of years, my dad and I would pick a day to drive up to Manitowoc together to take Corinne out to lunch. Even in her old age, she was sharp as a tack and a wonderful hostess. She had boxes and boxes of scrapbooks and family photos in her house and she was always happy to go through them with us and tell us stories about the people in them. On one of our trips there, my dad and I took some of the photos from Genevieve's albums and asked Corinne to help us identify the people in them.

Corinne at 93, still sharp as a tack and a wonderful hostess

When Corinne passed away last summer, I ended up with many of these scrapbooks and photo albums. And it was in going through all of these things that I came to realize my family history was much richer and more interesting that I had ever imagined. The prize jewel of the lot is a scrapbook that I believe Corinne's mother Edna put together in the 1930s. She must have spent hours sending away for copies of old newspapers from the Walworth County area, because in the scrapbook, she pasted hundreds and hundreds of clippings dating back as far as the 1880s -- any mention of any family member, no matter how remotely related, as well as many clippings about people who were the earliest settlers of Spring Prairie and Honey Creek, even if they weren't related to us. There are obituaries, birth announcements, social news notices, and marriage announcements (eerily called "hymeneals" back then.) The story all of these clippings tell is a fascinating web of interaction of the first settlers to look around at this beautiful spot in Wisconsin and say, "I love it here. Let's never leave."

At Corinne's funeral last year, the pastor read an essay that Corinne herself had written for the occasion (she was nothing if not extremely thorough.) In it, she told the story of how she got her name. Her father, Thomas Clark, was the druggist in Elkhorn when she was born, and he and Edna were having trouble coming up with names they liked. (Apparently this was a common problem among the Vaughn girls - you'll remember that Ora had similar difficulty naming Genevieve.) So he put a sign in the window of the drugstore saying he would give store credit to the person who suggested the name they ended up choosing. One of the Bowerses (for whom Bowers Road was named) had a daughter named Corinne and he suggested it -- it was a hit. For a middle name, the went with Edna's maiden name, and thus she was christened Corinne Vaughn Clark.

Her father got involved with the burgeoning industry of gas stations and moved his family to Manitowoc at the end of World War I. The house that he built for them to live in would be Corinne's home for the rest of her long life. A few years ago, I wrote to her asking for any memories of her childhood. Here is her letter  back in its entirety:

Dear Annie,

I want to wish you a "Happy Birthday" as I see your name in my little birthday book. And thank you for my nice card and nice note.

Yes I had a very  nice birthday. I have just one "first cousin" now but many second cousins. Clark is the only living cousin so I invited him and his "second wife" and other second cousins to have supper with me (also  a couple friends of cousins) and then we came back to 857 (home) to have birthday cake and ice cream. Penny (one 2nd cousin) took picture and we had fun talking then. (Oh yes, Penny also made the B. cake)

I'm now 98 and still live in the house my folks and I moved into when I was about 7. We had lived across the street in a rented World War I house with no closets or bathroom and no first-floor closets - and at the time my mother had trouble with the stairs, etc. So my folks bought the lot across the street and built the garage of old lumber from a building the Clark Oil Company [her father's business] took down to build a filling station. We were to live in the garage for the summer but the house was not ready so we lived there in the garage till spring and then moved in and my dad expected to finish the 2nd floor but finally had to have it done and the carpenter made 2 bedrooms.

Then I was interested to know you were interested to know if Genevieve and I were together when we were young. Well, we lived in Manitowoc about 120 miles from her. However, Grandma Vaughn lived in Burlington (602 Lewis St.) so my Dad drove and we visited Grandma and Grandpa Vaughn and Aunt Hattie and her two girls Harriet and Lorraine usually just for a weekend. (You see Uncle Jack passed away in Milwaukee, so the Cheesemans (Aunt Hattie, Harriet and Lorraine) lived with Grandma and Grandpa Vaughn.) When my Dad drove down we always saw Aunt Ora, Uncle Clarence and Genevieve and Warren on the farms. My mother never got to drive the cars Labor Day weekend. My folks always went to Elkhorn at Fair time (Labor Day week) but I could not go as Manitowoc School started the day after Labor Day. My dad was in charge of horse racing schedules at the Fair in Elkhorn. I stayed here with my Grandma and Grandpa Clark.

However, at some time I was with Genevieve and Warren and their folks on the farm. I remember having a chance to ride their pony - playing croquet in their yard and helping (???) to lead the sheep herd from one field to another where the grass was green. Of course later when Gen and I were both teachers, we always met in Milwaukee at the Nov. convention and had lunch together.

I wonder if this is what you wanted? Lovingly,

Friday, May 4, 2012

A pre-introduction to Corinne

Though I was very close to my grandmother Genevieve, this whole project may not have gotten off the ground if not for her first cousin Corinne, who passed away last summer a few days shy of her 99th birthday. A proper introduction to Corinne is coming shortly, but in the meantime, I think this newspaper profile from the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter dated Feb. 22, 2009 (when Corinne was 96) does a nice job of introducing you to this remarkable woman. My favorite line? "I like that 'Seinfeld' late at night."

Corinne Tetzlaff
Age: 96
Birthdate: June 7, 1912
Residence: Manitowoc
Hometown: Elkhorn

Do you have a favorite time period from your life? "Of course, when I got married was probably the outstanding year because we had such fun."

Since you lived through the Great Depression, do you have any advice for people in our current economic situation? "You have to save. You have to be careful how you spend money. I am much more saving than the younger people, I guess."

What are some of the changes you've seen in Manitowoc? "Downtown, of course, is different than it used to be. All the big stores are gone."

What do you watch on TV? I turn on the 5 o'clock news. I like that 'Seinfeld' late at night. Those fellows, they remind me of the crowd we knew in Fond du Lac."

Do you feel 96? "Well, I don't think so. Except for walking, I can get along pretty good."

Do you want to live past 100? "I don't think I want to really because I have aches and pains in my back and leg, and my friends are gone. Everybody my age is gone."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Recipes: Evelyn Hammersley's Ice Box Rolls

(Part of what I'd like to do with this blog is post recipes verbatim from my grandmother Geneveive's treasured recipe box. However, Genevieve's recipe box is a little intimidating and I wasn't sure where to start. So I just reached in and grabbed one at random. I have no idea who Evelyn Hammersley is, but based on the use of the word "icebox," I'm guessing this recipe dates from the Depression or earlier.)

Evelyn Hammersley's Ice Box* Rolls

Makes about 4 dozen, party size

2 cups boiling water
2 heaping tablespoons lard
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sugar

Pour boiling water over all ingredients and dissolve. Let cool until lukewarm. moisten two cake pans with 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Add 1 teaspoon sugar. Add 2 eggs beaten. Add all ingredients to the first mixture. Add 4 cups of sifted flour. Beat hard. Then add 3 cups more sifted flour. Put in icebox overnight. Make into rolls as desired and let raise 4 hours before baking.

For caramel pecan rolls: Take from icebox and roll out on well-floured board in a large strip about 3/4-inch thick. Spread with melted butter. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon mixed together. Roll up; slice into rolls about 1-inch thick. Line baking tins or muffin tins with melted butter, brown sugar and pecans and raisins. Place rolls in tins flat-side down, let raise four hours before baking.

* From the late 19th century well through the 1930s, almost every home contained a piece of furniture called an “icebox” – the precursor to our modern-day refrigerator. Iceboxes featured a compartment at the top where a block of ice would sit, and the convection from the cool air would keep anything in the cupboard underneath cool and fresh. To keep these iceboxes stocked with ice, a whole industry developed – ice harvesting, or ice-cutting, in which blocks of ice were cut from frozen lakes, streams and marshes in the dead of winter and stored for use year-round. Ironically, some of the best taverns in Chicago used ice cubes in their drinks that were harvested from the crystal clear waters of nearby Geneva Lake.