Monday, November 16, 2009

The Virginia House-wife, or Methodical Cook

Before Betty Crocker and Paula Deen, there was Mrs. Mary Randolph, author of The Virginia House-wife or Methodical Cook.  First published in 1824, an original copy of the 1828 edition, containing 240 pages of recipes and helpful household hints, is held in Marietta College's Special Collections.  Mrs. Randolph's motto, "Method is the Soul of Management," is boldly printed on the title page.

Mary Randolph was born into the Virginia aristocracy in 1762.  In addition to a formal education, she received training in the managment of an upper-class household, which required knowledge of cooking and entertaining.  Following her marriage to a cousin in 1780, Mary's reputation as a hostess was unsurpassed.  About 1800, her family experienced severe financial setbacks, and Mary helped out by opening a boarding house in Richmond.  Noting the lack of clear and concise directions available on the art of housekeeping, she decided to produce her own.  Mary died in 1828, with her burial being the first recorded in Arlington National Cemetery.  The inscription on her tombstone states that she was "a victim to maternal love and duty."

The following recipes selected from The Virginia House-wife may provide some assistance, or at least amusement, when planning this year's Thanksgiving dinner:

To Roast a Turkey

Make the forcemeat thus: take the crumb of a loaf of bread, a quarter of a pound of beef suet shred fine, a little sausage meat or veal scraped and pounded very fine, nutmeg, pepper, and salt to your taste; mix it lightly with three eggs, stuff the craw with it, spit it, and lay it down a good distance from the fire, which should be clear and brisk; dust and baste it several times with cold lard, it makes the froth stronger than basting it with the hot out of the dripping pan, and makes the turkey rise better; when it is enough, froth it up as before, dish it and pour on the same gravy as for the boiled turkey, or bread sauce; garnish with lemon and pickles, and serve it up; if it be of a middle size, it will require one hour and a quarter to roast.

Potatoes Mashed

When the potatoes are thoroughly boiled, drain and dry them perfectly, pick out every speck, and rub them through a colander into a clean stew pan; to a pound of potatoes put half an ounce of butter, and a table-spoonful of milk; do not make them too moist; mix them well together.  When the potatoes are getting old and speckled, and in frosty weather, this is the best way of dressing them - you may put them into shapes, touch them over with yelk of egg, and brown them very slightly before a slow fire.

Pumpkin Pudding

Stew a fine sweet pumpkin till soft and dry - rub it through a sieve, mix with the pulp six eggs quite light, a quarter of a pound of butter, half a pint of new milk, some pounded ginger and nutmeg, a wine glass of brandy, and sugar to your taste.  Should it be too liquid, stew it a little drier; put a paste round the edges, and in the bottom of a shallow dish or plate - pour in the mixture, cut some thin bits of paste, twist them and lay them across the top, and bake it nicely.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cramer’s Pittsburgh Magazine Almanack, for the Year of Our Lord 1810

Special Collections holds a variety of Western almanacs published in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati during the early years of the nineteenth century. Included are several produced by Zadok Cramer, a Pittsburgh printer, publisher, and bookseller. These almanacs contain helpful and interesting information for the pioneer, such as weather predictions, astrological signs, poetry, and advice on farming, health, and marriage.

In Cramer’s Pittsburgh Magazine Almanack, for the Year of Our Lord 1810, an essay by “Nicholas Pennyworth” provides instructions for financial survival during “Hard Times”:

Messrs. Almanack Makers,

Hard Times, is the cry among many worthy people. The times really deserved that name during the struggles of the American Revolution, and it may not be amiss to apply the same remedy now, that proved successful then, Economy and Industry. Set your spinning-wheels agoing, and make shirts and trowsers at home, instead of hiring speculators to go three thousand miles to get them spun for you. Raise more sheep and improve their breed, that fine coats can be made at your own fire-sides, instead of hiring your enemies to make them for you. Wear your old coats until this can be done, even should they be like unto Joseph’s, patched with many colours. Drink less whiskey and sow more flax and hemp. Talk less and raise more potatoes. Lose less time in winter, and build better houses for your cattle. Trim your orchards in season, and repair your fences before the corn comes up. A stitch in time saves nine, therefore patch your barn door while it is yet on its hinges. Stay at home and mind your own business. Runners and gunners come home barefoot. Boil the tea-kettle less, and churn more butter. Delay buying what your present need can put off, for small interests eat up big principals. Never pay your debts with promises, if you do, your purse has the advantage of you, it swims while you sink. If you want to travel easy, make good roads. Streams run best when the rocks are cleared from the bottom. If you want to make money, raise poultry and go to market. New fashions are the invention of the idle and cunning, avaricious speculators import them, and the vain and foolish, being caught with the glare, wear them. Our friends over the big water like us best when we work for nothing and find ourselves, that is, when we go to their market instead of attending to our own; when we employ their stocking-weavers and button-makers, while our own are starving for want of work.

Advice from an old man is generally spurned at – in whatever manner these hints may be taken, I cannot refrain from making them, and request you to print them, and if attended to in time, they may avert the coming of harder times.

Your old friend,
Nicholas Pennyworth

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Spirit of Homecoming Past

Come back! Come back, O moments of yesteryear!

“Come back, too, all you Marietta Alumni. Come, join us in the great Homecoming on Thanksgiving Day. Let’s make it the beginning of an annual event . . .” With this call to alumni, the Olio supplement of November 24, 1922, proclaimed Marietta College’s first homecoming.

Reunions of the individual classes had been held for many years, and the annual Marietta College vs. Ohio University football match had become a major campus event. Never before, however, had the College welcomed all of its alumni to come together with all of its students in a grand Pioneer celebration. The “big game of the season” head-lined the activities, while the College band led a homecoming parade, and a program of “long to be remembered stunts” was put on by the fraternity boys.

As the years passed, many traditions developed as part of the annual fall celebration. Crowds gathered around a blazing bonfire for a pep rally on “Illumination Night,” Greek organizations draped their houses with festive decorations, and in 1937, MC’s football team elected our first homecoming queen – Doris James of Oberlin, Ohio.

From the 1940s to the 1970s, the parade featured floats that wound their way through the streets to the stadium. The elaborate designs – locomotives, dragons, pirate ships – were a treat for the whole town. Equally enjoyable was the tradition of “Serenades,” mini Broadway-style musicals staged by the sororities to introduce their candidates for queen. Traveling from one fraternity house to the next, the women presented Fiddler on the Roof and West Side Story.

In 1977, the men were given an equal opportunity to play royalty when Jack Smith of Mountainside, New Jersey, was elected our first homecoming king. And who could forget “Dean Pat” (Merrill R. Patterson, Dean of the College) delivering his annual protracted speech, fumbling with scrolls of paper, and dramatically announcing the queen and king during half-time ceremonies at the football game?

Unfortunately, the “big game” of 1922 ended in favor of Ohio University, 3-0. Students and alumni were still filled with “Pioneer Spirit” while they danced the night away at the Gridiron Ball, and as in every Marietta College Homecoming since, “after that, memories – memories clustered around the good old Blue and White, until we meet again on Homecoming Day!”

Linda Showalter
Special Collections Associate
Marietta College Library


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Look Backward, by Chandler B. Beach, Class of 1863

Marietta College Alumni Quarterly,
April 1923

When I entered Marietta in 1859 the college buildings were two, the Library Building and the Dormitory. In the former were the college library, the chapel and certain recitation rooms, and on the upper floor the Halls of the Literary Societies, Alpha Kappa and Psi Gamma, with their libraries. The Dormitory lives in the memory of Old-time students as the center of college life. Here studies were pursued with earnest application on the part of some and with wandering minds on the part of others; here focused the social life of the college, the close, genial, friendly association of young men, alike in their pursuits and in the experiences of daily life, leading to friendships which became life long. Here and on the seats around the pump on the campus were held the conspiracies of fun which saved college life from becoming a dull routine. The college day began with chapel at 7:30. One must put one’s room in order, go to breakfast and return in time for chapel. Thus it came about that the greatest activity of the day was displayed in the early morning. There was a legend that one morning a student rushed into chapel, breathless, breakfastless and combing his hair with his fingers.

Organized athletics which hold so large a place in college life today were unknown in our day, yet we were not without healthful and enjoyable recreations. Out-of-door sports were frequent and varied and tramps over the outlying hills with their many charming views were a delight. Harmar Hill was a favorite objective. It was then forest covered, not a house nor a clearing in sight, and from its summit, the town, the hills beyond, the shining Ohio with its Crescent Island, and the broad valley stretching away to the Virginia hills, gave to the eye a picture long to be remembered.

Fraternities, which had been under ban, made their appearance at this time in the advent of Alpha Digamma, the faculty having yielded to the plea of a group of the older students who were “of the finest of the wheat.” A chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi was inaugurated soon after. These were the only fraternities during my college term.

A feature of greatest interest to the students were the meetings of the literary societies, Psi Gamma and Alpha Kappa, which were held on the forenoon of each Saturday. Of the program presented at each session the number of special interest was the debate. The question to be discussed and the speakers on either side were assigned in advance and the speeches pro and con generally gave evidence of careful preparation and an eager desire on the part of contestants to win the decision. It is not too much to say that the work of these societies gave an added value to the college course, stimulating thought and initiative and giving to the student a knowledge of the orderly conduct of the public meetings and developing an ability to think on his feet which made him an intelligent and helpful citizen in community affairs later on.

I have long recognized with grateful appreciation the great good fortune which permitted me to sit for four years under the teaching and the personal influence of the members of the faculty of Marietta.

President Andrews was a man of rare qualities, both as a man and an educator, strong, wise, thorough in his knowledge of every phase of college work and college life, tactful and efficient. Without seeming to do so he dominated the entire institution, faculty and students. He held a high ideal of what a college course might and ought to accomplish for every student and to realize this sought to stimulate thoroughness in the preparation of every lesson. At the close of a recitation the lesson had been thoroughly analyzed, made clear in every point, and the measure of preparation given to it by every member called upon made evident. In his life President Andrews presented a high type of Christian manhood, clean, unselfish, unswerving in devoted loyalty to the Christian faith. He once said to me that he never had a doubt. Who can measure the impress of his character upon the hundreds of young men who sat under his teaching for four years.

On my first day at Marietta, passing through north hall in the old dormitory, I saw chalked on the bulletin board this legend, “Prof. Johnny the student’s friend,” a heartfelt tribute of one student and endorsed by a host of others who had been piloted through a labyrinth of Greek text and through many other tangles by our venerable and reverend Prof. Kendrick. Gentle, kind, anxious to help and slow to chide, the boys sometimes tried his patience, but there was a limit. I recall a recitation when two or three of the class were acting as kids, when his face became stern and he spoke sharply, “Young men, if you do not behave I shall take my hat and go home. I am not here to control your conduct; in the common school the teacher governs the pupil, in college the young men govern themselves.” There was a sudden calm.

Prof. Evans, who held the Chair of Mathematics, was one whose knowledge of the science and whose investigations went far beyond the range of our studies. Terse, but kind in speech, he was a most competent and inspiring teacher in a field which some found dry and difficult. He was called from Marietta to Cornell. There was in college at this time, though not in my class, a student named Payne, who had almost a genius for mathematics and who naturally admired Prof. Evans. Soon after the close of the war I met Payne down in Tennessee, where he held a chair in Tennessee University at Knoxville. He related that on his return from an Eastern trip he stopped over night at Cornell to visit with Prof. Evans and, said he, “We sat up and talked until two o’clock.” I asked what they could find to talk about until such an hour. “Oh,” he replied, “we were discussing the form of the ultimate atom: two theories you know, one that it is circular and the other that it is triangular,” and he reeled off a series of equations which did not speak to me at all. Think of it – sitting up till two o’clock in the morning, spinning equations in an argument over a very small point. But we know that in the enthusiasms of genius, often food for smiles to ordinary mortals, were born the discoveries, inventions and ideals which have marked the progress of the world.

With 1861 came the war and the college was intensely stirred. We were on the border – just across the Ohio was Virginia. A regiment of artillery was ordered to Marietta in April and from that time until the close of the war a camp was always there. Games and recreations gave place to military drill, the campus became a drill ground. Many left college in response to the first and later calls for troops. Seven members of my class were of this number. Of students who remained, nearly all entered the army after graduation. Of twelve of my class who completed their course, ten rendered army service. Of Marietta men who joined the army, many of whom rendered conspicuous service and reached high rank, a full record is given in “Marietta College in the War,” a volume published by the faculty after the close of the war.

It is one of the compensations of age that memory holds and brings back to us the faces, the voices, the life of early years. The atmosphere, the songs, the laughter, the genial friendly intercourse, the thrill and relish of intellectual gain, these cannot be recorded on paper, but looking back over the long road since traveled, in the high horizon there they shine, bright, glad, helpful days at Old Marietta.

Chandler Belden Beach (1839-1928) was born in Cumberland, Ohio, the son of Edwards Abbot Beach and Rhoda (Churchill) Beach. After graduating from Marietta College as the valedictorian in 1863, Beach served in the Civil War in the Quartermaster Department. Married to Laura Nerni, he spent most of his life in Chicago, where he founded the C. B. Beach Publishing Company.