Monday, June 8, 2009

8 June 1955 “America’s Favorite Pastime, Glenn Gould, Homemade Dresses and Cheesecake, Lifts and Healing the Wounds of Old Soldiers and New Houses.”

Today, 8 June 1955, Dodgers option Tommy Lasorda to make room on roster for Sandy Koufax.

lasorda koufax I am afraid I know nothing of baseball. My husband, as well, knows next to nothing of this type of sport. He has never been the type to want to watch football or baseball, which is lovely for me. There are many women, certainly, who enjoy such televised sports, I am not one of them. This, too, explains why it is so easy for us to give up TV as there may be many of you who have husbands (or yourselves) who would miss such sport.

Being me, I thought, what is it about baseball?

Before the Civil War in this country Baseball and Cricket were neck and neck for popularity. Regional variations were typical, such as the Massachusetts Game which was played here in my state and throughout New England.

massachussets game rules The Massachusetts Game was related to rounders, a game that originated in England and has been played there since Tudor Times. I think it is still played there by school children today.

The Massachusetts Game was the rival of the New York Game. The New York game used “Knickerbockers Rules” which are a set of rules formalized by Alexander Cartwright in 1845. They are considered to be the basis for the rules of the modern game. The New York version of the game won out as the basis for modern American Baseball.

The National Association of Base Ball Players was formed during the 1860’s during the Civil War and by 1865 there were 100 clubs as member and by 1867 400!

chicago white stockings The Chicago white stockings are the oldest member of modern baseball and are now called the Chicago Cubs.

goldberg variations From June 6–16, 1955, Glen Gould makes his first Masterworks recording, at Columbia's 30th Street studio in New York: Bach's Goldberg Variations.

We love Glen Gould in this household. My husband studied classical piano for many years. He, at one point, was poised to go to Julliard for that purpose, but changed his mind feeling it was a very long shot at a career. One of the first times I really met my future husband, he sat and performed on the piano for a group of us. He later admitted it was partially to impress me and I have to say, it worked. We still have his piano (it is in the photographs of our old house in a previous blog). It will same day return to this house, but there is no room for it as of yet. He had a love hate relationship with that piano and our early years together are peppered with days of melodic noise interjected with frustration and vows to “never touch that blasted fool instrument again!”

Glen Gould is one of the best-known and most celebrated pianists of the 20th century. He is best known for his recordings of Bach’s ‘Preludes and Fugues’ where one can hear his atypical humming along with the music. This is a great example of that ‘humming’. It somehow adds to the music in a way.

He was considered an eccentric and was also a composer. He was most like our modern version of a composer/pianist of old.

gould and his dog nick This picture of Gould and his dog Nick in 1946 is dear and shows a happy side.

My husband’s Birthday party was a success. I made barbeque ribs on the grill, homemade potato salad with fresh dill, chervil, and basil from my gardenpotato salad and my homemade cheesecake. cheesecake1 cheesecake 2The first picture of the cheesecake is after it was baked and then baked again with the cream cheese icing on top (1 1/3 cup sour cream and 1/3 cup sugar blended and spread on top, then baked at 300 degrees F for 8 minutes.) The second picture is as I was slicing it, we had just taken off the candles that spelled ‘happy birthday’. It was a success.

I have made this cake before 1955, but it is out of one of my vintage cookbooks. If you ever want to really impress with a homemade dessert, this is the one. It does take some time to make, but it is the best cheesecake ever. The crust is actually more like a lemon butter cookie, no graham crackers in this one.

Here is the much loved recipe.cheesecake recipe

Now, it says to glaze with a pineapple strawberry glaze, but I never do. I can include that recipe if anyone would like it, but I always do the topping mentioned above, as it is more traditional New York style cheesecake. It is so rich and lovely, that I think it would be a shame to mask the flavor with any fruit. It ALWAYS pleases.

I was very bad and didn’t get many pictures. I forgot to get a picture of the table all set up outdoors. I had a wonderful vintage looking plaid table cloth and fresh flowers from the yard. I was having such a good time, I just forgot.

I did remember one picture of myself in my dress.

me in plaid dress Here it is. I made this dress myself and am rather proud of it. It is a lovely pastel plaid seersucker and wears very well. I am not sure if you can tell from this picture, but I decided to change my hair color. I have some natural red in my hair and so went with an almost true lighter red. It looks so natural, as a matter of fact, that one of my husband’s coworkers thought I was a natural redhead. I really love the way it looks with my complexion and it shows of my summer freckles in a more natural light.

While thumbing through my1945 copy of House Beautiful, I noticed in the ads at least five different lift/elevator companies. These two are typical of what I found, as I began searching through my other mid to late 1940s magazines. lift ad1lift ad2They always depict an older person or someone with a child, but never a man or soldier in a uniform. However, I began to see right off that is exactly for whom these were intended.

At first I thought, ‘what an expensive item to be concerned about with returning soldiers and their wives needing to find small economical housing’. Then, it dawned on me, how many men returned who would never or perhaps for awhile at least, walk again? Yet, they would not show such in the ad, as it would be too apparent and heartbreaking, certainly. It really touched me.

Again, here in 1955, I cannot help but keep returning to the wartime 1940s. Considering my age now in 1955, the war would have played a major role in developing my character. The need of a  ‘stiff upper lip and get on with it’ would be necessary for survival.

How many people would I know touched by death with the war? Certainly, neighbors and family members all had terrible losses, but then the death, though certainly horrid, was final in a way. The returning permanently wounded soldier, however, is an entirely different thing. One would need to live with and cope and help such a person. You would be so thankful to have him back in any condition, but surely it must have been hard on both the wounded and the caretaker.

How many families continued on with such soldiers? How did it touch their lives? Were there women who had a child with a man and then he came home unable to move about save with a wheelchair? How did that impact their family? Did they receive government aid, or would the wife continue with her work, if the returning men didn’t take over her post? So many questions.

If any of you have stories or information about such situations I would love to know of them. I definitely would like to research it more, as you really hear very little of it. It if funny how many movies have been made of wounded Vietnam vets, but are there many of wounded WWII men and how it changed their and their families lives? Something to ponder.

The more I think of the ‘old days of the 40’s’ while living in the luxury and convenience of the USA of 1950s, I cannot help but think how lucky we have it now. That, in and of itself, seems not to be the end of it. I think, “Oh, thank goodness we don’t have to send off our loved ones en masse to war, or the rationing etc”. But, now I am finding rather than saying, “oh good, we have it better” and than go off to over indulge in our luxuries, I am finding myself wanting to more than ever realize economy in things. And my home is becoming more and more important. Not in a purely superficial way, but it has almost become an extension of our little family, a member of it.

I no longer just want the Gardens to be ‘pretty’ but to be functional and serve a purpose. Our recent trips to our old 1718 cape house that we have had to rent out, led the three of us to consider possibly moving back there. It sits idle, waiting for the right tenant. The empty shell filled with the not only the ghosts of its 300 year old past, but of the recent past of my family. We pondered it.

We spent a Sunday there, the three of us and the dogs, picnicking on the bare wide floor boards. We played scrabble and waited for the house to tell us what it wanted. We walked around the yard and took our old walks down to the water. We had convinced ourselves it would be best to move back to the old girl, bring her back to life, and sell the house we are now in.

However, the current economy may have put a stop to that. What we could manage to sell our house for now would not even bring that much or nil in. We would have to move all we have started here. My orchard and garden and my new dining room, in vain. What to do?

So, after our little party the other day for my husbands birthday, we really started to rethink the move. Certainly we will find someone to rent the main house. We would not be getting rid of the old gal, only setting her aside until we are ready for her again. The old barn may in the end serve as a studio space/meeting place for me as I once planned, if I return to my paint pots or my plan of a ‘vintage organization’ or both.

It left me looking of our current house like the returning wounded soldier. Certainly this house, built new a few decades back, has none of the history or patina of age of that lovely old 1718 cape. It’s wear and tear does not come off ‘charming’ but rather neglectful. Maybe, just maybe, this house is like that soldier. Not as we would hope it to be, but none the less, still deserving of our love. With some patience and understanding and some physical therapy, this house may prove to be the better for our love. Only time and patience will tell.

Today, in between my chores (today is laundry day and I have more fence to put up) I am going to sit and dream new ways to love and adorn our little ‘wounded soldier’ of a house. A little love can go a long way for houses and people, don’t you think?

Until tomorrow, then, Happy Homemaking.

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