What is a cookbook for?
Purple kerosene lamps – south facing window.
At my house cookbooks are repositories of daily life, findings, and snippets of every day happenings. A virtual mine of times gone by. My mother never used a cookbook that I ever saw. She had her recipes memorized, and would sometimes consult recipes clipped from the newspaper, or magazines. She would buy cookbooks from groups that sold them as fundraisers. I have her extensive collection of Grange cookbooks which I use all the time. But, once in awhile she would pull out her cookbook that she started as a young woman. It was a small, 3 ring binder, with notepaper. It looked like it started out organized, with typewritten recipes, carefully indexed. But, as the years went by, it became stuffed with clipped recipes, recipes written on envelopes or scraps of paper. But, the most interesting thing to me, were the things slipped in that book that had nothing to do with cooking. My sibling’s report cards, dog licenses, property tax bills, and hand written notes from people I never met. She would dig out that book at Christmas time, and it was always kept in a drawer with the cookie cutters. When I think back, I don’t know why she got that threadbare thing out. It was stuffed in department store paper bag, that was so soft and worn, it felt like chamois. The sack I guess, was to save that falling apart book, that really was part of her life. It really meant nothing to me, but now when I look at that musty old bunch of papers, and then I glance at the kitchen queen with my own cookbooks stuffed full of stuff, I know why that book was more than just a bunch of papers.
Last week I visited a farm with a friend, who is writing a land use plan for the property. It was a chance to see a farm I had only heard about, and was anxious to see. The property is for sale, and when we arrived we checked in with the caretaker to let him know we would be walking around. He has lived there for sometime, and proceeded to tell us about former uses of land while under his care, and then he told us the story of a man that was killed there in a tractor accident. I had completely forgotten about the incident, and never had really heard the details. But, he witnessed this, and decided to share the particulars with us. We actually didn’t get the whole story, because he is Guatemalan, and spoke broken English. But, we got the picture. That story triggered this post.
Call Soderberg Beer parlor have him go over to the Legion Hall tell them to come quick
Frank is under the tractor Dead I think. Get an ambulance Call Lloyd tell him to come quick
That is a note in my Mom’s cookbook. I had never really noticed it before, and one day my Mom saw it, and told me the story. I had always heard the story of Frank, a neighbor who was killed while farming. But, it didn’t mean much – tractor accidents are all too common on farms. The farm where Frank and his wife Lee lived is about a mile through the woods, and 5 miles by road from our place.
My Mom worked for a Judge in town, who also owned a summer place out here, and he had mentored her since high school. When you work in a law office, you are privy to all sorts of private things, and you are the confidante of many.
Apparently Lee was having an affair with Lloyd, a bachelor neighbor who lived the about the same distance away in the other direction. And it appeared that poor Frank, who was to end up under the Fordson tractor, was the only person not in-the-know ;). My Mom told me this story when I was an adult, and I couldn’t believe that Lloyd, who I always knew as the brother of my hero, Lorena, (our local famous cowgirl) had been a little wild himself. Lloyd was always an old bow-legged cowboy as far as I knew.
Lee didn’t know what to do, so she ran through the woods to get my Mom to alert the beer parlor guys to help?? No one was here so she left the note on the door. Word spread quickly, and my Dad summoned Lloyd to console the “Widda Hen.”
Lee and Lloyd never did make it official, and Lee sold the farm and adjoining timber parcel and moved to town. Lloyd sold his farm, and moved to Nevada to prospect with his cowgirl sister, and the last time I saw him, he came back to town for the annual Pioneer meeting to do a show and tell with Lorena’s prize saddles, before he took them to the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
What an odd scrap of paper, with such a story. If my Mom hadn’t shared the intimate details with me, it would just be a scrap of paper, in a tattered old notebook, giving no hint of all the goings on in a small community. I’m glad she told me… .