GRANDMA, GOD AND AIMEE, 2.


Aimee slipped unbidden into my dream last night, which brought to mind my grandmother’s fascination with her.

Aimee Semple McPherson was a Los Angeles evangelist and media celebrity from the 20’s and 30’s, the largest among a flurry of religious salesmen, all of whom were selling salvation, a commodity always in demand, and which costs them nothing to supply.

In Aimee’s philosophy, God, being Love, desires only that His children be happy, and they cast money into the collection box with reckless enthusiasm to assure them of that happiness. “Just give a little more” she would cajole, and they did.

Aimee’s call to Love offered an eternal Costa del Sol, liberally supplied with food, drink, sex and sun. Evil had no place in this ethereal paradise.

Grandma was a liberated woman seeking a new source of religious interpretation, and was enchanted with the notion that another woman could supply it. LIfe was not easy for my grandmother at that time; a single divorced woman raising two young daughters, while working and running a rooming house in the middle of the Great Depression.

The spiritual bubble burst for Grandma, a highly moral woman, when Aimee became romantially involved with her secretary, who was also married. This was simply too much for Grandma.

They had donned their swim suits and went for a swim on the Southern California beach, when it was reported that Aimee had been kidnapped. The town went crazy with worry over their favorite God-fearing darling, sending out dozens of people, even dragging the ocean searching for her body, and at least one man drowned in the failed effort. A ransom note was delivered, clarifying the terrible news that she had been kidnapped.

A month later, Aimee came walking in, swearing that she had been kidnapped, tortured, and turned loose in the desert to find her way home alone, though her physical condition belied it.

As the money poured in from grateful followers of her Four Square Church, her Temple filled to capacity but without Grandma. She rightly felt that she had been duped, and that Aimee was merely another false Wizard of Oz, hiding behind a shiny curtain.

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EGG WHITE OMELETTES


Today I finally hit my weight goal of 100# and the barista at our local Starbuck’s was flummoxed when I switched to a ‘small skinny vanilla latte, no whip or caramel ‘, which has only 100 calories.  For 4 months I have been eating everything I could find to make up for the 20# weight loss.  Thin is good, scraggly is not.

I have always thought those people who order an egg white omelette, or who announce to the waiter to ‘put the dressing on the side’, or ‘no mayo on the sandwich’, are missing half the fun of eating.  Every newsstand has a dozen magazines telling the virtues of a new diet.  Having been on the other side of thin several times in my long adult life, I do know how difficult it can be to lose unwanted pounds, but trust me, it is just as hard to gain them back.  Funny thing, those pounds.  They just seem to have a mind of their  own.

According to my grandmother, you can never have too much butter.  When I was very young and we were living in Grandma’s boarding  house, we didn’t get much butter.  It was expensive to feed all those extra people during the Depression, but when she got rid of the boarders and switched to simply renting rooms, we got into the good stuff.

My father was a Navy man, and when he was home with us, we occasionally ate steak., and this is how he cooked it:  first you put a layer of salt into a very hot cast iron frying pan.  Put the steak in and when it’s done, you throw a huge pat of butter on top of it.  You don’t need any of those meat sauces.  I don’t think they knew about barbecue grills in those days.

Which brings me to the point of this: the egg white omelette.  I have seen people order this and I can’t imagine why.  In the first place , they are tasteless so why would you eat them?   Omelettes need an extra yolk in not out.  A truly great omelette has three whole eggs and an extra yolk.  Scrambled eggs improve the same way.    If you’re worried, just don’t eat eggs.

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“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money”.  Jules Renard

THE PERFECT WOMAN


I had a reply to my cake-baking post from my cousin saying she had our grandmother’s White House cookbook from 1910.  It made me remember that I too had a White House cookbook so I began pawing through our library, and found a 1922 edition of the same cookbook.

Mine had not belonged to our maternal grandmother, but to the stepmother of great-aunt Hazel on my father’s side of the family.  Her name, Mammie Whipple, was unfamiliar to me, so I began reading my father’s geneology, written by a cousin of my father.  There was no mention of her except the line on the first page of the book, stating her relationship to a known relative.

Every blank page in the book was filled with her handwritten recipes—all of which strangely enough, are recipes for booze!  One side of my family were teetotal, the other was not, so that explained why Mammie was on my father’s side!  There are recipes for every kind of fruit wine imagineable, also a very detailed recipe for 15 gallons of beer, which included boiling 3/4 pound of hops!

I once picked hops in Grants Pass, Oregon during the war when field help was unavailable.  The entire town closed down until the crop was in.  School was delayed, banks and retail stores closed for several days.  It took a very large amount of hops to weigh 3/4 pound!

Whether Mammie was a good cook I cannot say, but she certainly knew her liquor!  Since Prohibition began in 1920, it would not be a stretch to imagine that there were many households brewing their own in that period.

Alongside the White House book I found another I had not looked at for some time—The Perfect Woman.  It is a large, musty volume dated 1903, with my grandmother’s name in it.  I imagine it is a book which I suspect may have been given to a young lady to guide them in the ways of womanhood.    It announces itself as “Perfect Womanhood for Maidens, Wives Mothers,”  and as a book giving full information on all the mysterious and complex matters pertaining to women.  A voluminous subject covered in 448 pages.

It includes  subjects such as “The Body, the Temple of the Soul”, on through the wedding night, Heredity and How it May Be Overcome” , “Graceful Development of the Body”, child rearing, constipation, and how to cure unimagineable ailments.  A few letters are tucked in here and there from friends giving home recipes and remedies for various childhood indispositions.  One very long letter of 8 pages explains how to cure worms!  Her child, Ralph. suffered terribly from the malady, and when she described what she gave that poor child I wonder if he ever grew to adulthood.

With all those terrifying and unseen dangers lurking for a poor innocent unsuspecting woman, maybe Mammie had the right idea for curing all our ills!

What The Hell!

KSR