Tag Archives: Culinary History

Dangerous Jobs in NY History: Produce Manager?


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While researching stories that deal with history, I enjoy finding offbeat items, things that have happened in the past, which allows me the liberty to stretch the definition a bit and label them as history. Work can’t be all dullness and difficulty, and these items help make it fun. Which brings me to a list of some historically dangerous occupations: farming, logging, mining, and … produce manager?

Sounds ridiculous, right? Thousands have entered those other three occupations knowing full well the potential downside. Produce manager, on the other hand, seems pretty safe. But what would you choose—a job with the risk of injury, or a job that might one day “produce” your worst nightmare?

If you’re squeamish, you’d have to be bananas to choose the latter. But who in the Adirondacks and North Country, on our own home turf, ever expects to be attacked by scorpions or tarantulas? But it has happened, and far more than once.

Here are a few tidbits from the world of those bravest of souls: produce managers.

In 1891, a fruit vendor in Watertown was handling bunches of bananas when a scorpion slammed its stinger into his hand. Few scorpions can actually kill humans, but that hardly makes any scorpion attack more acceptable. In this case, quickly applying a tourniquet and rendering first aid lessened the victim’s suffering. The scorpion was said to be about six inches long.

In 1933, a two-inch scorpion stung Herb Sloan of Heuvelton (St. Lawrence County) three times. Suffering what was described as excruciating pain, he received first aid from a doctor and was then rushed to the hospital as his body temperature rose dramatically. He was accompanied by his attacker, who rode along in a jar.

Sloan later described what happened. “I ran my hand in among the bananas, when I suddenly felt a sharp, burning sting. When I yanked my hand out, I saw this ugly-looking thing attached to my fingers. Its jaws were clamped tight and its tail was whipping around. Three times it whipped its tail and ran the sharp needle at the end of it deep into my finger. I finally shook it off, and managed to get Dr. Mulholland without delay, then lost no time in getting to the hospital.”

In 1937, Medric Gandron, manager of the Whitehall (Washington County) A&P, likewise suffered a scorpion attack on his finger, requiring medical treatment and a recovery period.

Another job hazard for fruit handlers was tarantulas, and St. Lawrence County has had more than its fair share of incidents. Claude VanPelt of Gouverneur was bitten by one in 1901, and when William Kory of Potsdam was hanging bananas in his store, a tarantula with a six-inch leg-span fell to the floor. Kory escaped unscathed.

Like Kory, others had close calls but weren’t actually bitten, though the shock of finding a tarantula likely had lasting psychological effects. In 1910, at Long’s fruit store in Alexandria Bay, employee James Pollock was startled when one latched onto his shirt and tried to bite through the sleeve. And Fort Jackson’s Gladys Nichols, after grabbing fruit from a bag over a period of several days, discovered she had all the time been reaching into a tarantula’s adopted home.

Less lucky was Cliff McIntosh of Morrisburg. Talk about your nightmares―a tarantula got inside his clothes and bit him several times before it was killed. He endured extreme pain and swelling and was treated by a doctor.

Ed Chase, a store clerk in Whitehall, was bitten in 1920 by a tarantula that latched on so tightly, he couldn’t shake it off. A stick was used to remove it, and a doctor later amputated the tip of Chase’s injured finger.

Sol Drutz, owner of the Star Market in Saranac Lake, was unfortunate enough to have two spider stories connected to his store within a two-year span. Employee Margaret Duquette was bitten during the first episode, requiring “extensive medical treatment” before she recovered.

Then, in 1935, according to the Lake Placid News, “A lady tarantula, dreaded spider of the tropics, chose a Saranac Lake meat market as the ideal spot to hatch her young.” It was the store-owner’s mother, Annie Drutz, who had the pleasure of discovering the intruder.

In each and every instance above involving scorpions or tarantulas, there was one consistent factor: bananas. So remember that if a problem arises, you heard it here first―eating bananas can lead to serious health issues.

Lawrence Gooley has authored 11 books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 24 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Fort Ticonderoga’s Chocolate History Symposium


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A weekend-long celebration of chocolate, wine, and spirits, will be held October 12-13 at Fort Ticonderoga’s “Chocolate Covered History” Symposium. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the origins of chocolate and its role in the 18th century military history of Fort Ticonderoga.

The weekend event combines wines, spirits, chocolate, and history and includes a Veuve Clicquot Champagne and dessert reception, full day symposium, and gala dinner. Breakout sessions will provide opportunities to taste various foods prepared using American Heritage Chocolate, an authentic colonial chocolate recipe made only from ingredients available in the 18th century, made by Mars Chocolate.

Following a Friday evening champagne-dessert reception at The Sagamore Resort, October 12, the symposium will begin on Saturday, October 13, at Fort Ticonderoga with Chocolate in the Americas: Connecting History from the Amazon to New England presented by Rodney Snyder, Chocolate History Research, Director for Mars Chocolate, NA, Mars Incorporated. Christopher Fox, Curator of Collections at Fort Ticonderoga, will present the second session entitled Breakfasting on Chocolate: Chocolate in the Military During the French & Indian War and American Revolution. Afternoon breakout sessions include Wine and Chocolate: Perfect Pairing led by Janine Stowell of Banfi Vintners; Baking with American Heritage Chocolate with Chef Gail Sokol; Tuthilltown Spirits Whiskey Seminar with Ralph Erenzo, Co-Founder of Tuthilltown Spirits; and A Revolution in Chocolate: 18th-Century Energy Drink, led by Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Interpretation, Stuart Lilie.

“Chocolate Covered History” will be topped off with a Saturday evening gala at The Sagamore Resort and will include a cocktail reception and four course meal integrating chocolate into every recipe. Guests will have a once in a life-time opportunity to enjoy dishes such as Native Corn Stew paired with Chocolate Dusted Pine Island Oysters; Preserved Ducking, Pickled Fall Vegetables, Dandelion Greens with Chocolate Huckleberry Conserve; and Lavender and Knotweed Honey Marinated Lamb Chops with Roasted Rutabaga Mash and Chocolate Sassafras Sauce. Rum Spiked Chocolate Cake with Bergamot Tea Infused Pumpkin Custard and Mulled Cider Glaze will complete the meal. Each dish will be paired with appropriate wines.

Monies raised through the “Chocolate Covered History” symposium and gala will support Fort Ticonderoga’s educational and interpretive programs. Fort Ticonderoga is a not-for-profit historic site and museum whose mission is to ensure that present and future generations learn from the struggles, sacrifices, and victories that shaped the nations of North America and changed world history.

More about this event can be found online or by calling 518-585-2821.

Illustration: An 18th Century Chocolate Mill from Denis Diderot’s L’Encyclopédie (courtesy the Confectioners Mill Preservation Society).

NY Wine History: Finger Lakes Museum Doc Premier


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The Finger Lakes Museum is hosting the premier showing of its documentary film series, Vine to Wine; Savor our Finger Lakes, at Bristol Harbour Resort in Canandaigua on Friday, September 21st. The 6:30 p.m. event includes an assortment of tapas and wine tastings from regional wineries as well as presentations by the wine professionals who created the program series. Attendees can also bid on “Finger Lakes Experience” silent auction packages and participate in a raffle.
Part One of the Vine to Wine series, which highlights the history of grape growing and winemaking in the Finger Lakes Region, will be presented at four different venues across the region in October and November. Through film, live presentations, and wine and juice tastings, people can learn how the region developed into the wine destination that it is today.

For additional information and program schedule, or to purchase tickets for the premier, log on to www.FingerLakesMuseum.org or call 315-595-2200. Reserved ticket prices are $15 per person or $20 per person at the door.

The Finger Lakes Museum is being planned to be the premier cultural and natural history resource dedicated to the enjoyment, education and stewardship of the Finger Lakes Region, and to freshwater conservation.

The Finger Lakes Museum is chartered by the New York State Education Department and is incorporated as a not-for-profit tax-exempt organization. For more information or to make contact, log on to www.FingerLakesMuseum.org.

Dutch Influence on the American Kitchen Lecture


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Senate House State Historic Site will host noted author and food historian Peter G. Rose on Saturday September 22, 2012 at 1pm. She will be giving a talk “The Influence of the Dutch on the American Kitchen.” The program is free and open to the public.

Peter Rose lectures on historic Dutch foodways throughout the country. She illustrates her talks with paintings of the Dutch Masters and has spoken at many museums with holdings of such Dutch art all over the country, including the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard’s Fogg Museum and The National Gallery.

Rose has worked as a food writer and contributed a syndicated column on family food and cooking to the New York – based Gannett newspapers for over 20 years. She has written articles for magazines including Gourmet, Hudson Valley Magazine and The Valley Table. In 2002 she received the Alice P. Kenney Award for her research and writing on Dutch food history.

Senate House State Historic Site is part of a system of parks, recreation areas and historic sites operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the site is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information about this and other upcoming events please call the site at (845) 338-2786 or visit the State Parks website at www.nysparks.com.

Say Cheese: When New York Cheese Was King


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It’s a little known fact that the cheese industry in America owes a lot to New York State. Milton Stewart has set out to set the record straight with Say Cheese! The Story of the Era When New York State Cheese Was King, the story of the era when the premier cheesemaking region of the United States was in Central New York, chiefly in the Mohawk Valley.

In 1851, Jesse William set up what is considered the first cheese factory in America in Oneida County. It was also in New York that Professor Xerxes A. Willard became the nation’s most respected spokesman for the “associated dairies” concept in his drive to create higher standards in cheese making. Continue reading

John Lennon’s Travels in Ulster County, New York


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The Depuy Canal House has sat in High Falls since the 1790s when it was constructed by Simeon Depuy, “one of the most prominent citizens of High Falls, New York.” It opened, according to the Depuy Canal House’s website, as the Stone House Tavern. The tavern entered its heyday when work commenced on the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) canal to link the coal fields of Pennsylvania to the Hudson River in Kingston. This tavern sat on Lock 16, convenient to the canal men until the canal closed in 1899. Continue reading

Cambridge Home of Pie a la Mode in Foreclosure


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The invasion of British TV Chef Gordon Ramsey into Washington County during the winter of 2012 did not leave the horrors of the invasion of British General John Burgoyne during the summer of 1777. However, Ramsey’s new program for Fox TV, Hotel Hell, could not remake the historic Cambridge Hotel hotel and has left the home of Pie a la Mode on the auction block.

As first reported here at New York History in January, the Cambridge Hotel is best known for where apple pie with vanilla ice cream, was invented . Since the filming of the Fox TV show, the hotel, which owed nearly $470,000, has been foreclosed on by the Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Co. The Cambridge Hotel has had financial troubles for years under different owners. The Fox TV show is scheduled to air late this summer.

The American Victory at Saratoga over General Burgoyne in 1777 is known as the Turning Point of the American Revolution. This commentator is hopeful that Chef Ramsey’s TV show will mark a turning point for the Cambridge Hotel.

Sean Kelleher is the Historian for the Town of Saratoga. He served as the Director of the Washington County Fair Farm Museum, and worked with a number of Champlain, Hudson and Mohawk Valleys historic sites on grant writing, interpretive planning, and marketing.

Holstein History, Milk Bottles and Milking Machines


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The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark will hold its third annual Holstein Heritage event at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, the third day of Dairy Month, at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro.

Milton C. Sernett PhD will present Peterboro: Cradle of the Holstein Breed! Sernett’s interest in the history behind the New York State Holstein Association monument on Oxbow Road just north of Peterboro gave impetus to this annual event recognizing the important role that Peterboro played in the agricultural industry.

In his illustrated talk Sernett will use his research to relate the history of Gerrit Smith Miller’s importation to Peterboro of the first registered Holstein-Fresian herd in America. Sernett published the book Cradle of the Breed: Gerrit Smith Miller and the Kriemhild Herd, for the first Holstein Heritage event, and followed that publication with another in 2011 Say Cheese! The Story of the Era When New York State Cheese was King. Both books will be available at the program, at the Peterboro Mercantile, and are online at mercantile.gerritsmith.org

Returning directly from the National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors (NAMBC), Peter Bleiberg will share information on milk bottles and their collection. Bleiberg, a resident of New Hartford and the next editor of The Milk Route, the official newsletter of the NAMBC, has been collecting milk bottles for twenty-four years. He focuses his collection on the variety of pictures and slogans that began to appear on painted milk bottles in the mid-1930’s.

To promote the use of their milk and other dairy products, dairies used images of cows, barns, babies, families, ice cream, butter, nursery rhymes, war-related scenes, and many other subjects on the backs of the colorful bottles. Peter’s presentation, entitled Marketing of Milk in the 1940s, includes pictures of hundreds of bottles and traces the advertising themes on the bottles that sat in our refrigerators and on our kitchen tables every morning.

Mike Gleason will return to the annual event with his antique milking machines and, hopefully, with copies of his book on milking machines that is in publication at this time.

The public is encouraged to attend this heritage session which broadens understanding of the rich history of Gerrit Smith and his family. The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark at 5304 Oxbow Road in Peterboro has been designated by both the state and national park services as a site on the Underground Railroad.

 Exhibits on freedom seekers and abolitionists are in the three buildings on the estate that are open to the public. The site is open in 2012 on weekends from 1 -5 pm through September 23, for special events, and by appointment. Admission is $3 and free for students. For more information: 315-280-8828, info@gerritsmith.org or www.gerritsmith.org.

Illustration: A Holstein from an 1898 print.

Historic New York Beer Tastings Set in NYC


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To celebrate its summer exhibition Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History, the New-York Historical Society will host a series of beer tastings that showcase the thriving brewing culture in New York City and State.

Beer Here will examine the social, economic, political, and technological history of the production and consumption of beer, ale, and porter in the city from the seventeenth century to the present day. The beer tasting program, run by Starr Restaurants catering group, will take place in the exhibition’s beer hall on most Saturday afternoons from May 26 through August 25, 2012. Continue reading

Forest to Fields: Champlain Valley Agriculture History


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A short booklet, From Forest to Fields: A History of Agriculture in new York’s Champlain Valley published by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Essex County and the Lake to Locks Passage Scenic Byway highlights the rich history of the Champlain Valley with a focus on the region’s farms and fields.

From Forests to Fields is authored by Anita Deming, who has more than 30 years experience as an agricultural extension agent with CCE, and Andrew Alberti, Program Manager for Lakes to Locks Passage since 2008 (where he focuses on 21st century technology applications and local and regional interpretation and planning) and a contributor here at New York History. Alberti is also editor for the Lakes to Locks Passage and National Geographic Geotourism website.

Chapters cover Native American agriculture, early explorers and settlements, the agricultural revolution, farming in the modern era and a short review of the architecture and use of farm buildings and a list of resources. The authors explain the impact of the 1807 Embargo Act, the influence of the opening of the Champlain Canal in 1823 on local farm trade, the grange movement, and changes in the local sheep and dairy industries, and more.

The booklet is 48 pages and profusely illustrated. You can request a copy by contacting Lakes to Locks Passage. There is a suggested $10 + S&H donation.

Sean Kelleher: Toasts as Cultural History


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Today’s traditions is to raise a glass and offer a toast to celebrate a wedding and a new year. In the 17th through the early 19th century, public toasting was very common and many of these toasts are documented in old newspapers. “Toasts were efforts to draw all present into an agreeable fellowship, whether they wanted to be drawn in or not. At the best. the practice knitted together people from different classes into a comity of good cheer,” explains historian Peter Thompson in And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails.

It was typical during the American War of Independence that 13 toasts were drunk, one for each State, however, the toast below number 18. These toasts were offered on July 5, 1775 by General David Wooster and the officers of the Connecticut forces, who were dining at Mr. Samuel Frances in the Fields with the members of the New York Military Club in New York City. The accounts in Rivington’s New York Gazetteer describe “the day was spent in the utmost harmony every thing conspiring to please being all of one mind and one heart. The following loyal toasts were drank:

1. The king better counselors to him

2. The hon Continental Congress

3. General Washington and the army under his command

4. The several provincial congresses and committees in the confederated colonies

5. A speedy union on constitutional principles between Great Britain and America

6. Conquest and laurels to all those heroes who draw their swords in support of freedom

7. Confusion and disappointment to the friends of despotism and the enemies of America

8. May the disgrace of the rebels against the constitution be as conspicuous as that of the rebels against the house of Hanover

9. All those worthies in both Houses of Parliament who stood forth advocates of America

10. The Lord Mayor and worthy citizens of London

11. The glorious memory of King William

12. The immortal memory of Hampden Sydney and every patriot who fell in defence of liberty

13. May the enemies of America be turned into saltpetre and go off in hot blasts

14. May Great Britain see her error before America ceases in affection

15. May America ever be the dread and scourge of tyrants

16. The daughters of America in the arms of their brave defenders only

17. Death and jack boots before dishonor and wooden shoes

18. The glorious nineteenth of April when the brave Americans convinced General Gage and the friends of tyranny that they dare fight and conquer also

There are a couple of notable items from these toasts. The toasts were drunk the same day as the Continental Congress passed the Olive Branch Petition. The Olive Branch Petition was the last effort of the Continental Congress to avoid war with Great Britain in 1775. Some delegates to the Continental Congress wanted to break with England at this time, but they yielded to the majority who weren’t as radical. Those who were more moderate wanted to explain their position clearly to King George, in hopes that he had been misinformed about their intentions. They made it clear that they were loyal subjects to Great Britain and they wanted to remain so as long as their grievances were addressed. The King refused to even receive their petition. This set the stage for the American Declaration of Independence a year later.

General David Wooster was an American general who served in the French and Indian War and in the American War of Independence (AWI). He died of wounds sustained during the Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut on May 2, 1777. Cities, schools, and public places were named after him. He has been called “a largely forgotten hero of the Revolution.” A masonic history of Wooster is:

“DAVID WOOSTER was born near Stratford, Conn., March 2nd, 1710-11. After graduation from Yale in 1738, he served as a Lieutenant of the Connecticut Colony sloop “Defense” cruising between Cape Hatteras, Virginia, and Cape Cod, Mass., protecting fishermen and traders against the depredations of Spanish raiders and privateers in “the War of Jenkin’s Ear”. In May 1742 he was promoted to the command of the “Defense”. In the Louisbourg expedition he served as a Captain, commanding a company in the Connecticut contingent, becoming senior Captain at the end of the siege. He was one of an escort of twenty who accompanied the prisoners to France, being assigned to the flag-ship “Launceston” which transported the officers and their families, leaving on July 4th, 1745, in a convoy of eleven ships. This ship proceeded to London where he and his brother officers were feted and honoured in recognition of the great achievement of the colonial troops in the capture of Louisbourg. He was also appointed in December 1745 a Captain in Pepperrell’s new Regiment. It would seem probable that while in London (September to November 9, 1745) he was made a Freemason. On his return to Connecticut he was employed on recruiting service in that State and in December 1745 married a daughter of the President of Yale, Mary Clap, then 15 years of age, his own age being thirty-five. Wooster was on duty with his Regiment at Louisbourg from April 1747 to February 1749 and on the cession of that city back to France in 1748, he returned to New Haven in July 1749. On August 12th, 1750, the Grand Lodge at Boston “At Ye Petition of sundry Brothers (including Whiting) at Newhaven in Connecticut” the charter for the present-day Hiram Lodge, No. 1 was granted, naming David Wooster as first Master. Among his associates were Nathan Whiting and Joseph Goldthwaite, brother officers at the first siege of Louisbourg, at Louisbourg during the period 1747 to 1749. In 1755 he was made a Colonel in the Provincial Army and served in the Campaign of 1755-63 against the French including Quebec in 1759. He took a leading part in the Revolutionary War, and succeeded to the command of Montgomery’s Army at Quebec, after the death of the latter. He was later appointed Major-General in the Connecticut militia and fell mortally wounded while leading an attack at Ridgefield, near Norwalk. A memorial bearing the Square and Compasses stands over the spot where he fell April 27, 1777, while harrying the rear guard of the British troops that had raided Danbury and New Haven. He died May 2, 1777.”

An irony is that General Wooster was an acquaintance of the African-American poet Phillis Wheatley. Phillis Wheatley shared with his widow, Mary (Clap) Wooster, on 15 July 1778, an elegy poem on the death of General David Wooster. This poem is known for its lines concerning slavery in the hero’s prayer at the end: “But how, presumptuous shall we hope to find/ Divine acceptance with th’ Almighty mind — / While yet (O deed ungenerous!) they disgrace/ And hold in bondage Afric’s blameless race…” A contrast to the 18 toasts which do not mention slavery, but do reference “Conquest and laurels to all those heroes who draw their swords in support of freedom”.

Toasts are truly a wonderful area of research. They provide an opportunity to see what our forefathers valued. Toasts are how a community tried to draw in a community in fellowship and celebration.

Illustration: A Birmingham toast, as given on the 14th of July by the–revolution society from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Sean Kelleher is the Historian for the Town of Saratoga and Village of Victory in the Upper Hudson Valley.

British Assault on the Home of Pie a la Mode


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“The British are coming” is the warning shouted in Washington County as the British TV Chef Gordon Ramsey comes to the historic Cambridge Hotel this week. Ramsey is expanding his Fox TV shows beyond cooking to remaking hotels in a new program called Hotel Hell. The concept of the show is “help fix struggling, privately owned hotels, inns and bed-and-breakfasts in destination towns across the U.S.”

“The Cambridge Hotel holds 126 year history of housing local celebrations and so seems to have a very permanent part in the memory of the people of our community,” explains General Manager Shea Imhof. “Often folks stop in to see us and share pictures and stories from their 1960′s wedding or speak to how the whole family gathered for an elders passing. These memories are made stronger by sharing them in the setting in which they were made which is in part why we strive to exist.”

Today, the Cambridge Hotel is a hotel run by the Imhof family. It is best known for inventing pie a la mode, (French for “according to the fashion”) apple pie with vanilla ice cream. In the 1890s, Professor Charles Watson Townsend dined regularly at the Cambridge Hotel. He would frequently end his meal with an ice cream topped apple pie, which another diner called “pie a la mode.”

While dining at the famous Delmonico’s restaurant in Manhattan, Townsend requested his favorite dessert and was met with blank stares from the waiters. Townsend was quoted as saying “Call the manager at once. I demand as good service here as I get in Cambridge.” Townsend was overheard by a newspaperman from the New York Sun, who reported in the next paper about Delmonico’s working to recreate the dessert served in Cambridge Hotel. The story was repeated and pie a la mode became a standard menu item at restaurants across the country.

Townsend died in 1936 at the age of 87 and his New York Times obituary notes that he “inadvertently originated pie a la mode.” There are some conflicting reports including Barry Popnik’s The Big Apple that mentions the dish appears to have been first served at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. However this being a New York History site, we are going to stick with the Cambridge Hotel as the inventors of pie a la mode.

The other little tidbit is that apple pie isn’t American, it’s British. There were no apple trees or pies in America before the British settled according to a recent Historic Foodways blog posting from Colonial Williamsburg.

It may be just dessert that a British Chef is helping to remake a historic American hotel best known for pie a la mode.

Sean Kelleher is the Historian for the Town of Saratoga and Village of Victory in the Upper Hudson Valley. He served as the Director of the Washington County Fair Farm Museum, and worked with a number of Champlain, Hudson and Mohawk Valleys historic sites on grant writing, interpretive planning, and marketing.

Candy, Nuts, and Fruit: Christmas Gifts of the Past


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Children’s Christmas wishes and expectations years ago were much different from today’s world of high technology. I was so struck by this—the simplicity and innocence—that I included a chapter entitled Letters to Santa in a recent book on the history of Churubusco, New York. The sample letters below were published in newspapers of northern New York from 1920–1940. They portray the sharp contrast to the modern holiday, where expensive gifts have become the disproportionate norm.

Churubusco was a farming community. Families were self-sufficient, and even small children had daily chores. This fostered teamwork and family unity, and gave children a firsthand understanding of the values of goods, services, and hard work. Those lessons were conveyed in their missives to Santa. And some of the comments in the letters are just plain cute.

1923
Dear Santa,
This year, money being scarce, my wants are few. I want a doll, set of dishes, ribbon, candy, and nuts. Don’t forget my brothers and sisters.
Your girl, Eva Lussier

Dear Santa Claus,
I want you to bring me a little serving set, ball, candy, nuts, and bananas. Never mind the sled this year because I am expecting one from my aunt. My Xmas tree will be in the parlor near the stove, so take your time and get good and warm before you leave.
Wishing you a merry Xmas, your little friend,
Louis Patnode

1925
Dear Santa Claus,
I would like you to bring me a little bedroom set, some candy, nuts, and bananas.
Your little friend,
Louise Recore

Dear Santa Claus,
I would like a flashlight, sled, gold watch, some candy, nuts, oranges, bananas, and peanuts. Please don’t forget my little brothers, Walter and Francis. Walter would like a little drum, mouth organ, candy, nuts, gum, and oranges. Francis would like a little wagon full of toys, and some candy, nuts, and bananas.
Your little friend,
John Brady

1938
Dear Santa,
For Christmas I want a bottle of perfume and a locket, a 59 cent box of paints that I saw in your sale catalog, a pair of skates, a nice dress, and candy and nuts. I am eleven years old, and Santa, I hope you have a very merry Xmas.
Your friend,
Anita Robare

Dear Santa,
I am writing a few lines to tell you what I want for Christmas. I want a toothbrush, and there is a set of 12 different games in your Christmas catalog for 98 cents. Some of the names of the games are bingo, checkers, and jacksticks. Please bring me this set. I hope you don’t forget my little sister and brothers.
Your friend,
Henrietta Matthews

Dear Santa,
Christmas is drawing near and I would like these things: a pair of ski shoes, pair of fur bedroom slippers, a dump truck, and banjo. I will leave some crackers and milk on the breakfast table.
Your friend,
Ann Elderbaum

Dear Santa,
When you come around for Xmas, I would like to have you bring me a pair of skates and a woolen shirt. It’s all I want for Christmas for I thought that you are getting old and those chimneys will be hard to climb. You will have some bread and milk at Christmas Eve.
Yours truly,
Theodore Leclair

Dear Santa Claus,
I wish you would bring me a sled and a ring. I don’t want very much for I know you are getting old and I don’t want you to carry too much. You will find my stocking near the stove, and on the kitchen table you will find some bread and milk. I want you to leave me some candy, especially peanut brittle. I am 12 years old.
Your friend,
Cecelia Louise Miller

Dear Santa,
I wish you would bring me a popgun, tractor, truck, and an airplane. You will find a bowl of bread and milk near the Xmas tree. You will find my stocking near the stove. I am only seven years old.
Your friend,
Clayton Miller

My Dear Santa,
I am eleven years old, and I wish you would bring me a cowboy suit and a sweater. You will find my stocking near the stairway, and on the kitchen table you will find some corn meal mush.
Your little friend,
Herman Leclair

Dear Santa,
Christmas is drawing near and I thought I would drop you a line and let you know what I want for Christmas. I would like a red sweater, western book, and a fur hood. I will leave you some bread, cake, peanuts, and milk. I don’t want very much because you are growing old and your bag will be too heavy. So I will close and hope to have all I want for Christmas.
Sincerely yours,
Rita Theresa Leclair

Dear Santa,
I would like a new pair of shoes for Christmas.
Ruth Demarse

Dear Santa,
I want a tractor and some colors for Christmas.
Henry Lagree

1939
Dear Santa,
I have been a very good girl this year. I thank you for the things that you brought me last year. For Christmas I would like a doll and a Chinese Checker game. I will leave a lunch for you on the table. I will clean our chimney so you can slide down it. I will hang our stockings near the Christmas tree. I would like to stay up and see you but I am afraid that I would not get any presents so I will go to bed. Well we will have to close.
Your friend,
Helen and Patty Smith

Dear Santa Claus,
I have been a good boy this year. I would like a car that pedals. If you couldn’t bring that, I would like something smaller. And don’t forget Carol my baby sister. And I would like some candy, gum, oranges, and nuts.
Your little friend,
Robert K. Smith

Dear Santa,
I have tried to be a good little girl this year. I am nine years old and in the fifth grade. I would like a pair of ice skates between my sister and I. And don’t forget my baby sister, because she wasn’t here last year and I through that maybe you would forget her. But I guess that you wouldn’t do that trick. And don’t forget the candy, nuts, oranges, and gum.
Your friend,
Helen L. Smith

Dear Santa,
I would like for Christmas a pencil box and drawing paper, candy, and nuts.
Your friend,
Beulah Perry

1940
Dear Santa Claus,
I want a train and candy.
Norman Lafave

Dear Santa,
I would like a box of colors, a teddy bear, candy and nuts.
Agnes Lagree

Dear Santa Claus,
I want a pair of shoes, dress, and Christmas candy and nuts.
Ruth Demarse

From Bloated Toe Publishing, Happy Holidays to all.

Photo: 1916 Christmas advertisement.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Celebrating the Holidays in 18th Century Johnstown


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The goal of every museum and historic site is to make history come alive in the imagination of the public. The past few days have witnessed a number of celebrations of holiday greenery, music, and feasting, commemorating early festivities in the Mohawk Valley. Most of the greenery and more usual trappings of holiday spirit that are near and dear to our imaginations and hearts did not become common in household celebrations until the nineteenth century. More common in the 18th century secular celebrations were simple gifts of trinkets or money and feasts involving food and drink. There were additional rituals in colonial New York German and Dutch households where ceremonies were brought over from their countries of origin. Continue reading

18th Cent Holiday Traditions at Fort Ticonderoga


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Visitors to Fort Ticonderoga can explore 18th-century holiday traditions at Fort Ti’s “Hot Chocolate at Cold Fort” event. Participants can visit with historic interpreters portraying Continental soldiers from Pennsylvania in 1776 and experience how very different Christmas at that time was compared to our modern holiday traditions. Learn about Saint Crispin’s Day from a shoemaker at the Fort and experience the simple holiday pleasures the frontier garrison enjoyed. Taste a sample of hot chocolate based on a recipe from the 18th-century and experience a celebration at Fort Ticonderoga in 1776 Saturday, December 3, 10 am – 4 pm. Regular admission rates apply. Ticonderoga residents are free.

Much of Ticonderoga’s 1776-1777 winter garrison was composed of soldiers of the 4th Pennsylvania battalion. The soldiers were from the vicinity of Chester, Pennsylvania. In large part they were Quaker or Anglican. For the few Anglicans among these men, Christmas was an occasion for a feast, but not an extraordinary one. For the Quakers, who largely rejected Anglican traditions, Christmas was a day like any other. However, just as today’s American troops serving in foreign lands seek comfort in simple pleasures during the holidays, the 4th Pennsylvania battalion soldiers at Fort Ticonderoga heartily enjoyed basic comforts that reminded them of home.

By the end of November 1776, Ticonderoga was covered by winter’s first blanket of snow. The 3,500 men remained to garrison Fort Ticonderoga, Mount Hope, and Mount Independence under the command of Colonel Anthony Wayne watched wearily as Massachusetts and New York militia troops departed for home at the end of their terms of enlistment. Other Continental troops departed to join General Washington in the milder winter climate of New Jersey. Settling in for a long winter guarding Lake Champlain from attack, Colonel Wayne moved the men of his 4th Pennsylvania battalion into the sparse comforts of the Fort’s stone barracks.

To learn more about Hot Chocolate at a Cold Fort visit www.FortTiconderoga.org or call 518-585-2821. This holiday experience at Fort Ticonderoga is part of the Second Annual North Country Christmas week-long celebration, November 28 – December 4. For details on the North Country Christmas visit www.ticonderogany.com.

33rd Annual Harvest Fest at Farmers’ Museum


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The Farmers’ Museum’s 33rd annual Harvest Festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with live music both days and new activities for children.

This popular fall event brings together a wide array of artisans, vendors, performers, and exhibitors to the Museum’s alluring 19th-century setting. Guests will enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides; craft activities for the entire family; artisan demonstrations; and an abundance of delicious foods from the season’s harvest including samples of McCadam/Cabot cheese, roasted corn, baked goods, ice cream, and more. You can even try out wood planes, hand drills, and other antique tools from their large collection.

This year, the Museum again welcomes members of the Southern Tier Alpaca Association. Owners and breeders will display their animals and participate in numerous activities throughout the weekend.

Children will enjoy agricultural activities that include building a haystack; corn shelling and grinding; apple cider pressing demonstrations; ropemaking; apple bobbing; and 19th-century games in the schoolhouse. Not to mention the alpaca and canine agility courses.

Witness or take part in the excitement of an old-time pie eating contest – both Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m., sponsored by the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard.

Over 25 vendors and artisans will supply everything the season has to offer including beeswax candles, shaker oval boxes, early American tinware, baskets, Windsor chairs, and more – with demonstrations of soap making and woodworking.

Tap your toes the sounds of “Clemens Tradition,” an old time fiddle and classic country music group based in Osceola, New York, featuring the 2002 New York State Inductee to the North American Fiddler’s Hall of Fame and Museum – Jackie Hobbs and other special guests. They will perform in the Cornwallville Church, located in the center of the Museum’s historic village, each day at 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. The shows are free with paid admission to the event.

See the winners from this year’s Junior Livestock Show as they make their way through the Museum’s historic village during the Parade of Champions – both days at 1:00 p.m.

To view a full listing of all the event’s activities, see our schedule online at FarmersMuseum.org/harvest.

Sponsored by KeyBank and McCadam/Cabot Cheese. Supported in part by the Southern Tier Alpaca Association and the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard. This event is made possible withpublic funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Admission to the event: $12 adults (13+), $10.50 seniors (65+), $6 children(7-12), children 6 and under and members of the New York State Historical Association are free. For more information on any of our programs, visit FarmersMuseum.org/harvest.

Farmers’ Museum Exhibit: New York’s Good Eats!


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Do the words “Buffalo Wings” make your mouth water or do you prefer Shredded Wheat? Either way, you can thank New York State for bringing you both of these foods and many others as well. A new exhibition at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown tells the story of the foods that got their start in New York State. New York’s Good Eats! Our Fabulous Foods opens this Saturday, May 28th.

Several foods commonly eaten everyday across the nation were invented or first produced in New York State. Buffalo wings and potato chips are probably the most famous, but Thousand Island dressing was also created in the Empire State, and celery was first commercially farmed here. The exhibition will profile over a dozen foods – everything from Jell-O to Lifesavers to ice cream sundaes.

“New York has a rich agricultural and culinary history,” says Museum Curator Erin Richardson. “The whole family will enjoy learning about their favorite foods, discovering how they got their start, how they’ve changed, and the impact they have had.” In addition to fun food facts, New York’s Good Eats! will showcase important objects and artifacts, such as the oldest known tomato ketchup recipe, classic Jell-O molds, and an original packing crate for Shredded Wheat.

This new exhibition promises to be popular—not only because of the topic, but also because of how it is designed. “The Farmers’ Museum has developed an innovative, hands-on approach to engage visitors of all ages with this exhibition,” says Richardson. “From recipe sharing to an interactive family guide to trivia quizzes and coloring stations, there is something fun for everyone.”

New York’s Good Eats! Our Fabulous Foods opens Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday, May 28th in the Main Barn of The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. The exhibition will run through October 2012. It is sponsored in part by Price Chopper, The Tianederrah Foundation, WMHT, Savor New York, and The New York State Council on the Arts. Visit FarmersMuseum.org for more information.

Illustration: The Saratoga Specialties Company makes potato chips according to the original recipe used by George Crum. The chips are made by hand and packaged in replica Moon’s Lake House take-out boxes. Ccourtesy of Saratoga Specialties Company.

Fort Ticonderoga’s Harvest Market, Plant Sale


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Make plans now for the King’s Garden Harvest Market and Autumn Plant Sale at Fort Ticonderoga on Saturday, October 2 from 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. Heidi Karkoski, Fort Ticonderoga’s Curator of Landscape, said “The Harvest Market and Autumn Plant Sale provides a wonderful opportunity for visitors to enjoy the rich bounty of the King’s Garden.” Freshly dug perennials such as Heuchera ‘Melting Fire’, Yarrow ‘Red Beauty’, and Day Lilies will be available for purchase. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own plastic bags or boxes for their purchases.

The Harvest Market will feature colorful vegetables and fruits including pumpkins, melons, and leafy greens. King’s Garden garlic and seasonal herbs will offer visitors an added autumn zest to family dinners. Beautiful cut flower bouquets featuring Zinnias, Salvia and many other favorite seasonal flowers will highlight the market experience. A Favorite Place of Resort for Strangers, the highly acclaimed book on the King’s Garden history, will also be available at a special Harvest Market price. Harvest Market and Autumn Plant Sale proceeds support educational and programming opportunities at the King’s Garden,

As part of the Harvest Market, visitors can relax within the King’s Garden walls and enjoy a picnic lunch or purchase a take-out lunch from Fort Ticonderoga’s Log House Restaurant. Additional activities scheduled throughout the day include Weekend Watercolors, a self-guided program where visitors are encouraged to use the colors of autumn for inspiration, and garden tours. Visitors will also have the opportunity to learn more about becoming part of the volunteer family at the King’s Garden and Fort Ticonderoga.

Farmers’ Museum Annual Harvest Fest


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The bounty of the harvest will be celebrated at The Farmers’ Museum’s 32nd annual Harvest Festival, taking place Saturday and Sunday, September 18 and 19 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. with live music Saturday evening from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. This year, the Museum again welcomes members of the Southern Tier Alpaca Association. Owners and breeders will display their animals and participate in numerous activities throughout the weekend.

This popular event brings a wide array of performers, exhibitors, and farm animals to the Museum’s alluring 19th-century setting. Guests will enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides; historic games and craft activities for the family; artisan demonstrations; and delicious foods from the season’s harvest including samples of McCadam/Cabot cheese, roasted corn, ice cream, and much more.

Over 20 vendors and artisans will supply everything the season has to offer including beeswax candles, cedar hand carved decoys and birds, Early American tinware, quilts, stained glass, Windsor chairs, and more.

Activities include an alpaca obstacle course, a pie-eating contest with pies supplied by the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard (Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Sign up until noon in the Main Barn), a canine agility course, and a free family concert with live bluegrass music by the band “Gravel Yard” on Saturday evening from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. To view a full listing of all the event’s activities, see our schedule online at FarmersMuseum.org/harvestfestival.

Admission to the event: $12 adults (13+), $10.50 seniors (65+), $6 children (7-12), children 6 and under and members of the New York State Historical Association are free.

Local Foods Writer at the Adirondack Museum


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If you love to cook and support regional agriculture, join a discussion about cooking with local ingredients in the Adirondack region.

On Monday, August 23, 2010 food writer Annette Nielsen will offer a program entitled “North Country Foodways in the 21st Century” at the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York.

The final offering of the season in the museum’s Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.

Annette Nielsen is the editor of Northern Comfort, Recipes from Adirondack Life – the fall and winter edition, as well as the newly released Northern Bounty: Spring & Summer Recipes from Adirondack Life.

Drawing on recipes from both cookbooks, Nielsen will identify ways to obtain ingredients throughout the entire year, whether sourcing from forest, orchard, or farm.

Nielsen, a food writer, has contributed articles and columns on regional farms, food and folkways to a variety of publications and has conducted farm-to-table tours and cooking classes at the Battenkill Kitchen, in Washington County, N.Y. for youth and adults.

She worked earlier in her career with Glorious Food, a catering concern in New York, and taught principles of healthful eating and cooking to teens and parents in underserved areas of Washington, DC with Share Our Strength’s Chef Outreach Program.

Photo: Annette Nielsen, photo by Elias Garfinkel.