Christmas Postathon Day 7

Baking cookies or another holiday treat

In my recipe binder, along with all the recipes I’ve cut from magazines and collected from friends, is a tattered little chunk of green cardboard. It was cut from the side of a box and even though the recipe is a simple one..1 cup butter or margarine; 1 cup sugar; 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; 2 eggs; 3 cups sifted flour; 1 1/4 teaspoon salt…it’s the most special recipe I own.

Let me tell you why.

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When I was a little girl I rarely spent time cooking with my mom. It just wasn’t her thing. Not that she wasn’t able to make good food, it just wasn’t something she really enjoyed doing. I don’t remember her collecting recipes or having a ‘famous’ dish or spending hours making anything by scratch. Dinners were hearty but basic and her only baking, for the most part, were several batches of cookies for the holidays. Those were the rare occasions when we cooked together.

We always made pressed butter cookies.  I’m not sure why that was the cookie of choice. My father’s mother, a world class baker, was from Germany and these were very much like German spritz cookies so they may have been his request. The recipe we used for our cookies, was the one that was printed on the side of the box that the metal cookie press had come in.

My job, at first was to turn the handle on the sifter and slowly add the flour as my mother stirred. Then, after the batter was ready, she filled the press. I would pick out which shape to make first (usually the flower) and she would fasten that to one end, and the plunger to the other. Face down on the cookie sheet, she pressed row after row till the press was empty. Finally, we used red and gree sprinkles to decorat the top.

Once the first batch was in the oven, we started on the second, sometimes adding red or green food coloring to the dough to make it more festive. Soon the house was filled with the aroma of cookies that smelled just like Christmas to me!

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As I got older, we would take turns doing the mixing and pressing. Even after I moved out on my own, I still came over to my parents house the week before Christmas for our cookie baking party. Sometimes, my sisters would join us as well. Then, one  December, the tired old cookie press finally gave out. One of the metal fasteners that held the plunger on snapped off. Even my dad, who could fix just about anything, couldn’t repair it. Reluctant to just throw it away, mom packed it in the box and put it back up in the cabinet.

The next year, I purchased a battery operated cookie press that was faster and easier to clean. We used it for many years after that. It worked fine but it felt different, and even though the cookies looked the same, I would swear they didn’t taste quite the same.

My dad passed away in 1984 and a few years later, Mom decided to sell the house and buy a small condo.As we were cleaning out the kitchen cabinets I found the old green box with the broken cookie press up in the cabinet where she had put it years before.

“I guess we should just toss it.” Mom said, resigned down sizing. There were so many childhood memories attached to the press that it was hard to just throw it away, so even though I had memorized it years before, I used her scissors to cut the recipe off the side of the box and tucked it in my pocketbook.

Now, every year, Miss Dee and I make pressed butter cookies. I mix the ingredients,  she picks the shape (usually the flower) and puts on the sprinkles, We still use the battery operated cookie press and even though I already know the recipe, we still pull out the page from the binder with the tattered piece of green cardboard. It reminds me of when I was little, baking with my Mom. I feel blessed to be able to carry on the tradition with my daughter.

 

Just Playing Around

imageI read in the newspaper this week that the Slinky is turning 70! Cool, huh? This iconic toy was invented in nearby Philadelphia by a gentleman by the name of Richard James, an engineer at the Cramp Shipbuilding Company. Apparently, Mr James invented the Slinky quite by accident. He was attempting to devise a spring that would hold sensitive shipboard equipment stable during rough seas when he knocked one of the reject springs off a shelf. It flounced about the floor for a bit and Jim had enough imagination to see an opportunity.

We spent many days playing with Slinkys when I was little and my own children had them too. When I think of them I am hit with dozens of memories of us building ramps and steps out of books just to see what tricks we could get the Slinky to do!

Isn’t it funny that when you think about the toys you played with as a child, it’s not just the item you remember but the wonderful way it made you feel. Life was so exciting when the whole world of your imagination was open to you! My friend Donna and I would spend hours playing Barbies or paper dolls inventing entire lives for them complete with jobs, pets and boyfriends! She had a Barbie Camper so they often went on road trips, usually to see The Monkees in concert. We had a thing for Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork back then. The best Christmas ever was the year I received both Quick Curl Barbie and Mod Hair Ken!! He had stick on facial hair! Hard to beat that.

Dolls were always my favorite things to play with and it wasn’t just Barbie. The 1970s produced a plethora of weird and wonderful dolls.

One that I really loved was Dawn. She and her friends were like mini Barbies with various shoes and outfits. I even had a fashion show stage for her. You basically stuck her little foot in a little vice and then cranked a handle moving a track around the stage. It sent her for a spin than brought her back. Very low tech.

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Dawn by Topper Toys (1970).

Then there was Mrs Beasley from Family Affair. Anybody remember her? She talked!

Mrs Beasley by Mattel

Mrs Beasley by Mattel

I also had  Growing Hair Kerry, the doll whose hair expanded out the top of her head then retracted when you pushed her belly button. Nothing weird about that. She had a bunch of outfits too (I’m beginning to think my older sisters were right-I was spoiled!)

Kerry by Ideal (1970)

Kerry by Ideal (1970)

Of course if you wanted a truly weird and disturbing doll it would have been Little Miss No Name, the poor orphan doll with the glued on tear drop. Her box reads, “please take me home and wipe my tear away.” Yikes! Who thought up this one? Not only is this sad little girl  wearing a burlap bag, her eyes make her look like a zombie! Can’t imagine why I wanted her so bad.  I do, however, remember that her tear drop fell off and got lost within the first week. Guess she got her wish. 😌

Little Miss No Name by Hasbro (1965)

Little Miss No Name by Hasbro (1965)

I played with other toys too; wooden blocks, puzzles, the Easy Bake Oven, but the dolls were always my favorite. Whenever I come across one of them now, at a yard sale or antique store (those Mrs Beasleys are very collectible by the way) I get all misty eyed. I miss playing dolls with Miss Dee. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the babies in the family to grow up a bit more.  In the meantime, I can get them all Slinkys!

Tell me about your favorite toy.

FYI..This post has been added to the Leisure Link curtsey of Perspectives On. Hop over and check out the other blogs!

The Story of Doris and Charley

imageToday would have been my parents 66th wedding anniversary so it seemed fitting to tell the story of their wedding. It is actually the story of a wedding that never happened but I’m getting ahead of myself…

Doris and Charley met in 1946 at a “Welcome Home” party celebrating his brother, Jimmy’s return from WWII. Charley had been medically discharged from the service the year before because of stomach ulcers and was working as a truck driver for Schmidts Brewery. Doris had come to the party with her friend Gertie who was Charley and Jimmy’s cousin. My mom was 16 at the time. My dad was 23! The first time I heard this I said to my parents,

“You would never had let me date a 23 year old guy when I was 16!” Mom’s answer was that times were different then and she knew the family and so did her parents. Anyway, they were instantly smitten and three years later Charley bought Doris a diamond ring on the famous Jewelers’ Row in Philadelphia. They both wanted a small family wedding and set a date in October. The ceremony would be at the courthouse followed by a party with family and friends at the local VFW hall. The food would be homemade by my grandmothers, good wholesome food! Doris purchased a white suit to wear.

That was the plan, however best laid plans sometimes go awry!

The story is that even though they were very much in love, my father was a bit reluctant when it came to marriage. On the evening of September 2nd he and mom were at a local bar with a group of friends when conversation turned to the upcoming wedding. Some of my dads buddies were kidding them, saying that my dad would never go through with it. Well my father, who was the better (or worse) for beer wanted to prove them wrong and said to my mom,

“Come on Dar’! Let’s go somewhere and get married tonight!” According to my mother, he had his mind made up and wouldn’t budge. She figured if she didn’t go with him he would wake up alone and hungover in another state! She told him she would do it but only if they could find another couple to come along as witnesses. There was also the added bonus of having someone as their designated driver! Mom’s first choice was her best friend Tillie who was suppose to be the maid of honor but when they woke her and her husband up they weren’t too thrilled about taking road trip in the middle of the night. Go figure. They ended up with a cousin and her husband.

They needed to drive four hours to Virginia, the closest state that didn’t require a three day waiting period for a wedding license. Charley could get some sleep on the ride down and hopefully once he was fully sober, he would still be ready to elope!  Another cousin was enlisted to break the news to my mom’s parents so they wouldn’t worry.

So on the morning of September 3, 1949 Doris Mae married Charles William in Alexandria,Virginia-the  first town they came to across the state line. Doris wore a navy blue skirt and jacket and Charles, a slightly wrinkled grey suit. The lady clerk in the courtroom scraped up a bouquet of flowers. The next month, on the originally planned wedding date, they gathered with their family and friends for a belated reception. The rest is history!

First Ride

imageWell, Miss Dee passed her road test. She is now a licensed driver. (Yikes!!) As Hubby and I watched her back out of the drive yesterday in her snappy little yellow Beetle,  I distracted myself from having a full blown mom-panic attack by reminiscing about my first car…

It was the summer of 1981, I was a high school graduate working full-time still trying to decide if college was for me. My current mode of transportation was mom’s 1962 Dodge Dart, a car that I’m pretty sure was virtually indestructible. It was a five speed on the column and had really great pick up. My brother had learned to drive on it, then me but my mom was ready to have her car back so I started looking for my own.

I scoured the newspaper ads for a few weeks and finally found a car that looked promising. It was a 1973 Mercury Comet, dark green with a white vinyl roof. The woman who was selling it was an English teacher who only used it to drive to school and back so it had very few miles. Being an 18 year old girl, I based my decision solely on how the car looked.  It was pretty, so I loved it! My dad, however felt the need to check out the practical stuff. You know, was it leaking oil, how did the tires look, did the breaks work, silly stuff like that. I was so worried that my dad would find something wrong with the car and tell me not to buy it but it actually checked out ok. Yay!! Here is a photo of me and my baby…

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Let’s not even talk about the hair, okay? (It was the 80’s 😳)If you notice, though, I’m holding a stack of library books so some things never change. The Comet cost me $900.00 which I borrowed from my Grandmother.  I paid her back $75.00 a month till it was paid off. Boy, I loved that car! I cleaned it and personalized it, making it my own. My little piece of adulthood! My independence!

How about you? Did you have a first car?

Working for a Living

My son started a new job a few weeks ago and recently received his first paycheck. All of his previous jobs were paid in cash so this was a new experience. He was pretty excited but he was also a little bummed when he saw how much of his hard earned money the government got to keep! Hubby and I nodded agreeing that it had seemed unfair to us when we received our first paycheck.

Naturally all this talk of first jobs inevitable led Hubby and I on a trip down memory lane. The kids just love when that happens!! Like most young boys in the ’70’s Hubby’s first job was delivering newspapers. After that, in college, he worked in a liquor store hauling kegs of beer and cases of wine even though he wasn’t yet legal drinking age.

My first job was working for Taco Bell. I was 16 years old. This was 1979 and Taco Bell was new to our area. My friend Helen (who was the extrovert to my introvert) dragged me along to an interview and and we both ended up getting a job.

I remember my favorite part of the job was that we got to make ourselves anything we wanted to eat on our lunch or dinner breaks. There were all kinds of combinations. We even mixed the sodas with each other.

My least favorite part was the itchy brown polyester uniform. So flattering! Plus there was a danger of being pelted with hot oil when you were frying taco shells! Making the retried beans was very time consuming too. In fact, aside from actually making money, there really wasn’t a whole lot to like!

Several months after getting the job, the manager stole all the money out of the safe and set the restaurant  on fire to cover up his crime! True story. I swear. The police actually caught him because he stood in the parking lot across the street watching the fire. Not the brightest guy.

Didnt matter anyway. I was so done with that job. Besides, Helen had already found us another one at the local Rite Aid!  We worked there till college. It was pretty lucky I had Helen around to find jobs for me! 😊 These days she works for a bunch of stockbrokers, Hubby is a Counselor in a middle school and I’m teaching math and reading to second graders. Funny when you think about where we all started!

Do you remember your first job? What was the best part? What was the worst?