1956 – 1960: The Early Years

Mom and Dad were married on August 4, 1956, the day after Mom’s 28th birthday. One of their wedding gifts was this Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, from one of Mom’s friends.

First Edition, 1950; 9th printing.
First Edition, 1950; 9th printing.

From all the notes written in it, I can tell she used this cook book for many of the countless meals she served.

The earliest menu note I found was headed:

“Thanksgiving dinners – 1958, 1960, 1964, ’66, ’68, ’70, ’72, ’74”

So far I haven’t found any of the actual menus or guest lists for these Thanksgivings. In later years, she alternated hosting Thanksgiving with her two sisters-in-law (my Dad’s brothers’ wives). They each had 10 children, so those were some very large parties. Maybe in those early years, only one of the brothers was married, so she took every other year? I don’t know but that’s my guess.

UPDATE: In composing a post for Thanksgiving, 1966, at which the guests were my Uncle Bob & Aunt Mary Ann and their 10 children, and Mary Ann’s parents, the Conants, I came across these notes:

Other years – everyone here: 1958, 1960 
(I assume “everyone” means both sides of the family, hers and my Dad’s); just Muellers, Conants & Aunt Catherine (Ennis) – 1964.

On that same strip of paper:


Mom’s birthday
– chicken (don’t worry, these menu notes will get much more interesting.)
Bob & Mary Ann
Dick & Dorothy
(Dad’s two brothers and their wives)
 – sirloin tip
Hershey bar torte (maybe this recipe?)

Don & Kate (Mom’s first cousin and her husband), Cor (her younger sister)
  -pork tenderloin casserole
raspberry torte

(pork… tenderloin…. casserole? “Casserole” is written in ink instead of pencil like the rest of the note, and kind of squeezed in as an afterthought… but I assume it must go along with the tenderloin. Did a little searching but can’t find something that seems to be a match. But why put pork tenderloin – so delicious on its own –  in a casserole?! Maybe one of those words – either tenderloin or casserole – meant something different back then.)

And that was it for 1960. Not too surprising, though, that there weren’t a ton of dinner parties that year. By 1960 she already had two little ones, born only 20 months apart (myself and my first brother). They also had moved into their house on Sherman Boulevard.  It doesn’t look very big from the picture, but it had four bedrooms, 2 baths, a living room, dining room, and sunroom, as well as the kitchen, a full attic and basement.

From Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/eS3EQYoGZaH2
3379 N. Sherman Blvd; landscaping by the subsequent owners who purchased it in 1989. Image from Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/eS3EQYoGZaH2

In other words: Mom was busy. Up to her eyeballs. Or, up to her armpits in alligators, as her first cousin Ruth used to say. She was busy negotiating the demands of being a new wife, a new mother, a new homeowner.

I do suspect that Mom and Dad had entertained others during these early years – surely their parents came for dinner, at least – but maybe Mom hadn’t yet decided on the plan of recording her menus and guests. Given the slow start (“1960 – Mom’s Birthday – chicken”), I suspect that’s the case.

This mid-century woman has begun her housewifely career.

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