Everybody knows, perhaps, that cookbooks are extremely popular. Julie, an employee at Phoenixville Public Library, directed me to the many shelves there. Check Barnes and Noble.
Michael Weinstein of Charmingly Linda's Consignment Shop at 113 S. Main St., gave me an old, stapled cookbook he found on eBay. "You might be able to use this in your column," he said. Michael, whose winning smile rivals a movie star's, was 200 percent correct. I used some of the more unusual recipes: Potato Cones by Mrs. A.E. Shunk, etc.
The black construction paper cover is gloomy. Six pages are missing. The inside pages, however, are filled with intriguing recipes from pages 7 to 174 - many of them with an old world background. Size: 9 inches long by 6 inches wide.
No instructions tell the reader how to prepare the baking pan or the temperature of the oven-stove. You can imagine why. Old titles catch the reader's curiosity: Potted Herring, Cracker Dumplings, Cough Medicine, Ice Cream Candy, etc.
Each author of the recipe is identified, names still alive in 2005: Harrop, Kremer, Miller, Quay, Pennypacker, Reeves, plus Rossiter. Some recipes have an out-of state I.D.
Advertisements surface here and there, nationally-known Karo Syrup, and locally: Kulp & Burns, Palace Garage, 21 Gay St., service on Hudson Super-Six, Essex Motors Cars and Hupmobile with daily express to Philadelphia - call Bell Phone Phoenixville 65.
I asked, you, readers, to phone me if you knew the date of the book. Nobody called.
One day I biked down to the local historical society on Church and Main streets to return a photo owned by the organization. Helen Harrop, a gracious volunteer, caught me quickly and thanked me for publishing her relative's recipe. (Helen's grandmother came from Cornwall, England.)
"Wish I could find out who did the book and when," I griped.
Helen opened a file cabinet and, viola!, there's the book all pages intact. "Just what I've book looking for," I exclaimed. Helen made copies of the missing information from my book: pages 1 to 6.
Here's the statement in the file cabinet book. It was republished for 60 cents by the Arbor Vitae Class of the Baptist Church. "Which Baptist Church?" I asked.
The book states: First Baptist Church on Church and Gay streets. (The church was organized in 1830, but was not located on Church and Gay streets then.)
I learned from a historian elsewhere in Phoenixville who found the book on eBay, that she would delve into the book's original publication, if it can be found.
Today the church is officially: The Baptist Church of Phoenixville.
Everything changes a bit as time rolls by.
To give you the flavor of the writing style, here is a copy of one page. Notice how different the verbal flow was then compared to journalistic writing now.
We, the members of the Arbor Vitae Class, have republished this book of recipes as a means of raising money for the First Baptist Church. We thank most heartily our advertisers and suggest to the owner of this volume that to them you extend your patronage. We also thank those who aided our effort by giving us their choice recipes. In offering this collection we have tried to give such recipes as will be useful to every housekeeper in her preparation of substantial and economical meals. We have given to every contributor at least one recipe. If any recipe should fail to appear it is because similar ones had previously been given to us and because of limited space.
The Class will appreciate any effort made to increase the sale of this book which can be secured from any member of the class.
Miss Jean MacFeat, 357 Second Ave.
Miss Ada McCorkle, Prospect St.
Miss Emma Podrick, 258 Walnut St.
Mrs. Frank Pollock, 208 Morris St.
Miss Margretta Quay, 921 Bridge St.
Miss Estelle Rogers, Cherry St.
Miss Irma Wagoner, 391 First Ave.
Miss Lillian Young, 321 Hall St.
Mrs. William Coggin, teacher, 200 Morris St.
Mrs. Walter Bloomer, 333 Church St.
Miss Emelie Darrah, 371 Third Ave.
Miss Clara Dewees, 511 Gay St.
Mrs. Elizabeth Doughton, 370 First Ave.
Miss Elsie Dyer, 314 Washington Ave.
Mrs. Mary Estelle, Port Providence.
Miss Helen Hertzell, Washington Ave.
Miss Ada Kurtz, 315 Morgan St.
Miss Pearl Longacre, Walnut St.
What a satisfaction to discover something related to a time when stoves were different, recipes were different and ads, too. Makes one appreciate how far we've advanced, or have we?
With Valentine Love, Keystone Connie, 610-933-0669.
(Bretz teaches private students about writing techniques including poetry. Use phone number above.)