August 6, 1996
Carolyn Chopp researches the Mirrors of Yesterday column that appears daily on The Journal feature page, so she spends several hours each week sifting through microfilm files of Perry newspapers from 50, 40, 30, 20 and ten years ago to bring us interesting nuggets of information about days gone by. It's partly a labor of love because she is intrigued by the history of this community, and this project gives her an ideal way of immersing herself in stories about the people and events that made news here in the past.
Recently, however, she came across another, more personal source of information, and she has shared some of that with me. It is from the "Simplicity Farm Record Book" of her mother, Marie Chopp, complete with notes dating from 1930. Mrs. Chopp passed away in December 1991. The little book is 5 1/2 x 9 inches with a soft cover and perfect binding. Mrs. Chopp clipped recipes and cooking information from newspapers and pasted them in the book. It also contains numerous recipes in her own handwriting.
Many of the recipes are from old columns of The Journal, submitted by readers such as Dorline Richey, Lucien; Mrs. E. H. Lambert, Sumner; Mrs. Glennwood Groom, Rte. 5, Perry; Mrs. Clide Smelser, Mrs. Mary Hejtmanek, Rte. 3, Perry; Mrs. George Sheets, Perry; Opal McNeal, Lucien; Mrs. Marie DeVilbiss, Rte. 3, Orlando; Mrs. Otto Wentzel, Orlando; Mrs. A. Kissner, 305 Elm, Perry; Mrs. John Andrews, Rte. 3, Perry; Iva Callison, 816 Sixth street, Perry; Mrs. J. T. Foster, 516 Grove, Perry; Mrs. H. H. Isham, Mrs. F H. Meager, Mrs. J. M. Abel, Alice Coate, Mrs. Joe Mildfelt and Mrs. Arthur Clark, all of Perry; Mrs. Edward Ewy, Rte. 5, Perry; and others.
Some of the recipes were for such goodies as cranberry frappe, date loaf candy, pineapple upside down cake, poorman pudding, piccalilli and red apple pie. Are such yummy delicacies still produced in our home kitchens these days?
One page had Mrs. Chopp's canning record for the year 1929. It included 20 quarts of blackberries, nine quarts of apricots, two quarts of pears, 12 quarts of peaches, ten quarts of plums, 34 quarts of tomatoes and three quarts of sand plum butter. Are you salivating yet?
The book also provided home hints for cleaning mirrors and windows, an anti-perspirant (throw a handful of soda into the bath water), removing tar from clothing with the use of clear lard, and adding a small spoonful of corn starch to greatly improve the texture and flavor of your fudge.
Then there was this handwritten entry dated January 1930: "Worst snow storm since opening of Cherokee Strip. Started falling January 7th and snowed off and on until the 21st. Hardest freeze January 17th, 20 below zero; and January 21st, 19 below zero." How many others remember that desolate winter in Noble county?
Thanks to Carolyn Chopp for allowing the rest of us to enjoy this homespun bit of nostalgia, and for her daily contributions of Mirrors of Yesterday to help us remember where we came from.