I can remember my daddy going to the Ridgewood neighborhood on a weekly basis to check on Grandpoppa, a self-sufficient man who was a retired blacksmith and farmer. Grandpoppa assured Daddy on each visit that he was doing well and could handle everything. Even at age 84, Grandpoppa would drive each Sunday to spend time with us.
Mama's closet relatives lived in Fairfield County, so a drive to see her uncle and cousins there was always a time to go "up the country." She would welcome them to visit us and sometimes a carload or two would come down and spend the day with us. Since they did not have telephones, a letter would arrive early to tell of the plans. Of course, it didn't matter if they came unannounced as Mama could always have food that could be prepared to feed a flock.
That was the Past Generation. The set of people who welcome company and stayed in touch with the outside world through radio. One listened to the radio with imagination. At first our telephone was a party line. Families were polite about not talking too long, especially if an adult wanted to use the line. It was different with us as teenagers, especially during the two-hour dedication of songs on the Rhythm and Blues song program. If one wanted to make a call home while in town, there were telephone booths from which the call could be made. If one did not have sufficient quarters, the call could be made collect.
The Past Generation showed care for each other and communicated love by sharing. City folk cooked on either a gas or electric stove, always having enough to share with the older persons of the neighborhood. I can remember having to deliver food to the sick and shut ins.
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If the word was out that someone needed coal or transportation to town, Daddy and other men would become the drivers to carry folks where they needed to go. In fact, when Daddy renewed his driver's license at age 89, his reason was to be able to carry someone to the store or to the doctor, if needed. I chuckled and reminded him that I was driving him around. To this he answered, "Everyone does not have a daughter like you."
It seemed as if everything done was done with love. When my parents stopped subscribing to The State newspaper, it was because paperboys had become extinct. Daddy would travel to the corner near Columbia College to purchase from a newsboy. When I was there, this became my task. I was told not just to purchase a paper, but to talk and encourage the young fellow to be safe and always sell with a smile: a way of expressing love.
The goal of the Past Generation was to express love for all people and to share. When an offspring was going to the store, one might have a list for three or four on the same street -- as if a neighborhood watch was in effect.
Many times when the groceries were delivered, the woman of the house would say, "Take this pie home and tell your mother that I baked one for her since she always checks on me."
Mothers taught that if a dish was sent to the household, it had to be returned and it could not be returned empty, a sharing process.
The Past Generation taught so much and shared so much. We were taught by example. It is our call to do a repeat performance.
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 egg yolks
2 cups boiling water
One baked pie shell
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar
Combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon juice and two egg yolks. Add boiling water, stirring constantly. Put in double boiler and cook until thick. Cool. Pour the filling into a cooked pie shell. Beat the egg whites until stiff, add 2 tablespoon sugar. Cover pie with meringue. Bake in slow oven 350 degrees until brown.
One baked pie shell
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/3 cups orange juice (diluted as directed on can)
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
Mix sugar and cornstarch in saucepan. Stir in the orange juice gradually. Cook over moderated heat stirring constantly until mixture boils. Boil one minute and remove from heat. Add egg yolks. Return to heat and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove and continue to stir until smooth. Blend in butter and cover with meringue.
1 tablespoons gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup crushed strawberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream
Baked pastry shell
Soak gelatin in cold water, adding boiling water and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add berries and lemon juice; let mixture thicken. Fold gelatin mixture into stiffly beaten cream. When slightly thickened, place filling in baked pastry shell. Chill until firm.
1 (13-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons melted margarine
Ground nutmeg to taste
Grease and flour a 9-inch glass pie pan. Be sure all areas are well covered. Combine all ingredients in a blender; blend 30 seconds. Pour into pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
The pie will rise but will settle as it cools and form a light crust.