Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Adin Baker, World War One and the Spanish Influenza, By Aunt CB and Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Adin Baker wanted to travel ‘round the world as he was growing up in central New York State; finally, his travel bug still strongly in place, and no doubt, patriotic to boot, Adin joined the Army in June of 1918. Attached to the 152nd Division Medical Allentown Replacement Unit One, he was sent to England.

In October, just as his squad was ordered over to France (from London), Adin became sick and was ordered to escort another very ill veteran back to New York City; in the city, surrounded by beds of other sick soldiers, doctors realized that Adin was in the far advanced throes of Spanish influenza, a very lethal strain.

The influenza pandemic--"Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe"— actually didn't originate in Spain - it got its name because at the time, Spain wasn't involved in the war and had not imposed wartime censorship, thus it received great press attention there.

The Spanish Flu killed more people than World War I itself-- somewhere between 20 and 40 million people, according to Molly Billings of Stanford University.

Billings continues: ‘In the fall of 1918 the Great War in Europe was winding down and peace was on the horizon. The Americans had joined in the fight, bringing the Allies closer to victory against the Germans. Deep within the trenches these men lived through some of the most brutal conditions of life, which it seemed could not be any worse. Then, in pockets across the globe, something erupted that seemed as benign as the common cold. The influenza of that season, however, was far more than a cold. In the two years that this scourge ravaged the earth, a fifth of the world's population was infected.

It infected 28% of all Americans. An estimated 675,000 Americans died of influenza during the pandemic, ten times as many as in the world war.

1918 would go down as unforgettable year of suffering and death and yet of peace.’

Closer to home, the Spanish flu entered Syracuse at the State Fairgrounds, or Camp Syracuse, where hundreds of World War I soldiers were returning from Europe. When the worst was over, more than 900 people in Syracuse died of infection and pneumonia. In a federal survey of how many deaths per capita, Syracuse was in the top five, tied for third with Boston.

In Buffalo, the toll of the epidemic topped 2,000. Albany's death toll was over 500. In Rochester, 213 people died from the flu in one week.

Back in Center Lisle, Kate and Byron received a telegram stating that their only son was near death in New York City with flu. Byron hot footed it down but by the time he arrived, Kate had already been told that Adin had “turned the corner”.

Later, volunteers wrote notes to his parents of Adin’s progress. He was discharged in January of 1919.

Having gotten a taste of travel, Adin now took to traveling the country by rail, ‘hobo-ing around’. Center Lisle, New York, and the farm would have to wait.

Picture One: Adin in uniform
Picture Two: St Nicholas magazine cover, a magazine for children
Picture Three: Spanish Flu victims, hopefully recovering
Picture Four: On the Homefront —Would one year old Aunt Leona be fed hominy?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tom Kinsella and His Garden

My own gardening skills may be almost non-existent, but luckily, I have a younger brother to turn to. When asked how his garden grows, Tom writes:

I have a small garden plot in my back yard. It's about 12 feet by 8 feet. The soil in south Jersey is sandy (I'm less than a mile from the ocean), and I've worked in plenty of mulch and compost. From a soil standpoint, I think I'm in reasonable shape. My sun quota, however, is a problem.

When I first planted about seven years ago, I had nearly full sun and my first tomatoes did quite well. The second year, though, they didn't ripen, and I was told I needed more sun. What about the first year I thought? Then I looked up. A beautiful cedar tree stands about 20 feet from the garden and, not surprisingly, it grows larger every year. So each year as it grows I have less sun, and I don't have the heart to trim it. Because of this, one of my gardening puzzles has become what grows well in partial sun?

Lettuce does well. I usually plant several varieties -- about twelve feet of lettuce. I'm partial to arugula, black seeded simpson, and mustard greens. I've had lots of types, though. Lettuce likes cooler weather, so now, in early June I have more lettuce than I can eat. I also love snap peas and plant them heavily. I have about 12 feet of them also. Right now they are about 4 to 5 feet tall and just starting to produce peas. I'll be inundated in a week and that will continue for about 2 to 3 weeks.

At the height of pea season, Christine and I just stand in the garden at dinner and eat the peas from the vine. If we want some variety, we can stoop over and grab a chive or a bit of basil. When it gets hot, the peas die back. I have a small herb section, oregano, thyme, several basil plants, and two very healthy bunches of chives. When the chives first send up buds in the spring -- before the flower opens -- the buds can be harvested and have a bit more zing than the chives themselves. They are great in salads -- yummy.

I so enjoy my garden that I'm sad at the end of the season. Because of that, a few years back I began to plant a row of garlic in November. It over winters well in south Jersey and in the spring, shoots come up. Now, in early June, the stalks are about 3 feet high. In about a month the stalks will die back and I'll dig the bulbs. The bulbs are then tied together and hung to dry in the garage or basement. That's fun.

But the most fun of all remains my potatoes. I planted five varieties this year. All blue (which are really purple), yellow finn, and some red, white, and blue potatoes (whose names I don't know) that were given to me by a friend. I've got about 30 plants stuffed into my little garden.

That's way too many to carry to a fall harvest, but I know that in a couple of weeks I'll dig my first plant and find four to seven potatoes down below. If I choose which to harvest carefully (and I do), I'm thinning the garden as I dig potatoes. By the time September rolls around, I usually hope for a dozen well spaced potato plants growing toward maturity. That's what I hope for.

Since I love potatoes so much, I usually devour my entire crop before September arrives. O well. Someday I'll have a bigger garden. As a final note, I grabbed two raspberry runners from Christine's very healthy patch last year and stuck them in a corner of my garden. They have done wonderfully. I will have berries in couple of weeks, too. Lettuce, herbs, peas, garlic, potatoes and raspberries? What else do you need (except for tomatoes)?

Picture One: Tom and Christi
Picture Two: Black seeded Simpson Lettuce ( never heard of it, so I HAD to find a picture)
Picture Three: Red and Blue potatoes

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Recipes for June and Thoughts on Rhubarb, By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Almost strawberry picking time around here, and I am looking forward to it. I love the supermarket strawberries, and their price, but fresh from the field, just picked, strawberries? Unbeatable!

So, a recipe from Grandma Taylor, or Ethel Baker Taylor, to get us started on the summer. Rhubarb is ready to eat in mid Spring, and as we know, it is luscious in pies!

Some haggle over whether rhubarb is a fruit or vegetable, with the ‘Joy of Cooking’ proclaiming: “Only by the wildest stretch of the imagination can rhubarb be included in this [fruit] chapter, but its tart flavor and its customary uses make it a reasonable facsimile, when cooked, of fruit." Well!!

And, ‘rhubarb’ as a word has its own delightful uses.

Stage actors commonly shout the word "rhubarb" repeatedly and in an unsynchronised manner, to cause the effect of general hubbub.

The phrase "out in the rhubarb patch" can be used to describe a place being in the far reaches of an area, as rhubarb is usually grown at the outer edges of the garden in the less desirable and unkempt area.

In Canada, the phrase "putting it in the rhubarb" describes driving a vehicle off the road, possibly into roadside vegetation.

And, in baseball, the iconic bench-clearing brawl is known as a "rhubarb", although, while I have heard many odd baseball terms (just laughed a few nights ago as my husband, Glenn, shouted, “He dinked a bingo over his head”—not sure just what kind of hit he meant, but I had visions of Australian wild dogs running around the field), I have never heard ‘rhubarb’ used yet, but the day is young—we begin yet another Red Sox/Yankees series tonight (and to throw in a personal note, this series might be extra interesting--played here in our own Fenway, and we all woke up today to the stunning news that overnight when the Boston Globe union voted ‘no’ to an 8% paycut, the owner—the New York Times—slapped them immediately with a “Sorry, but because you said ‘no’, next week, we are cutting all pay by 23% or going out of business.") So, yes, we could see a rhubarb or two in the next few baseball games—New York Times, New York Yankees, same thing…

But, back to Ethel’s recipe from our own Taylor Cookbook:

Rhubarb Pie:
Ethel always added a bit of milk and sugar to the top crust of her pies.

1 ¼ C. sugar
6 T. flour (rounded)
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. salt
Mix and sprinkle 4 T. of above over pastry; rest mix with rhubarb
1 lb. rhubarb (5 C. cut up in ½ -1/4 inch slices)
1 T. butter or margarine--add it in dabs to pie.
Cover with top crust. Sprinkle a little sugar on top of pie crust, after dabbing with milk.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees until rhubarb is soft when pierced with fork.

And, as we all know, to mix rhubarb AND strawberries in pies, well, what are you waiting for?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Happy June First!!

We have lots of celebratory births this month, but also, today--June First--has been newsworthy throughout the centuries:

In 1215, Bejing is captured by the Mongols under Genghis Kkan.
1533, Anne Bolelyn is crowned Queen of England.
1779, during the American Revolutionary War, Benedict Arnold is court-martialed for malfeasance
1943, British Overseas Airways Corporation Flight 777 is shot down over the Bay of Biscay by German Junkers Ju 88s, killing actor Leslie Howard and leading to speculation the downing was an attempt to kill British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

1967, the groundbreaking Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album by The Beatles is released.
In our small part of the world, Birthdays are still big news. We’ll begin with the Baker side of the family. Adin L. Baker, born one hundred and twenty years ago, is our oldest Birthday Boy.

Gladys would love this birthday month—it includes her daughter, Kathryn Wood Barron, and Kathryn’s daughter, Kayte Barron Langstaff, and Kayte’s son, Gavyn Langstaff, which if my generational math is correct, makes Gavyn Glady’s great grandson.

Birthday hellos also go out to Carol Ann Arnold ( daughter of Linda, daughter of Sylva), and David Wendell Henderson ( Wendell and Joyce’s son). David and his wife, Patsi, as we blog readers know, have just welcomed their second child into their family.

Picture One: Dave, Patsi and Levi on their wedding day, July 12th, 2008
Picture Two: Kathryn Wood Barron
Picture Three: Kayte, Gavyn and Spice
Picture Four: Adin and Ethel

June Birthdays, Part Two:

Uncle Harold’s family celebrates Thomas Baley Jr. ( husband of Yvonne-- daughter of Kathy Taylor), and Daniel Taylor Spear ( Mary Lou’s son) with birthdays this month.

Aunt Doris and the Hawkes have Janis Harvey Hawkes ( Mickey’s wife) as the birthday girl.

Picture One: Jan
Picture Two: Tom and Yvonne
Picture Three: Matt, Jesse, and Dan Spear

June Birthdays, Part Three:

Arnon and the Taylors have James Lee Taylor(Arnon’s son) and his daughter, Erin Louise Taylor, Diana Maria McCarty ( Arnon’s daughter), and Michelina Paige Letourneau (Cynthia's daughter, granddaughter of Nancy Taylor Wright) with birthdays this month.
Happy Birthday to One and All!

Aunt Ruth and the Maneys have Karen Kalke Maney (Dan’s wife), and Jonathan Paul Maney.

Picture One: Mickey
Picture Two: Jim and Bob Taylor
Picture Three:Diana and Maria
Picture Four: Diana and Dan Maffei
Picture Five: Jon and Jill