Monday, August 01, 2011

Going on a Search and Destroy Mission!

The title of this post is actually only half accurate. I am about to embark on a big old search mission but hopefully, in the process, nothing will be destroyed.

And guess what?

Who knows but maybe, just maybe, someone will happen on this post and recognize what it is I am searching for and point me in the right direction to score a big point for me on this mission!

What is it I'm searching for, you ask.

Well actually it is a cookbook and a pretty old cookbook on top of that too!

My story about this search began last Saturday when, as I was coming down the steps at our local Moose Hall, I encountered an old friend coming up the steps and I flagged him down to ask if he maybe would be able to help out of Women's Group with the recipes I've been pretty much hounding everyone in a three-county radius to copy their favorite recipes, or any they might have that belonged to their mother or grandmother or favorite really distant aunt, cousin or a good friend. Yeah, a lot of folks around these hills are probably referring to my efforts in a way that would say they think I'm really becoming more than a bit f a pain in the dupa on this topic.

But anyway, Nels -the guy I encountered -although he has never belonged to our church, you see, his late mother was a very strong member and wonderful worker for the church, the Women's Group as well as being one of considerable cooking and baking talent so I figured maybe, just maybe, her only child might just happen to have some of her recipes in his possession. Oh, and also, maybe, just maybe, he might also have a photo of his Mom that he would loan me so I could scan it and then use it on the page we hope to set up as a memorial of sorts to as many of the women who have graced our church over the years!

Lo and behold, about three hours later, there was Nels, banging on my front door, with a little plastic bag in hand which contained about 4 or 5 fairly old cookbooks that had belonged to his mother. He had also found a polaroid photo too of his Mom, taken three weeks before her death and he handed all this to me, quite happy that he had been able to provide some information for me for our project.

As I glanced over the books in the bag, one in particular caught my eye and had me thinking I'd seen that particular cookbook before, somewhere, someplace.

Nels then informed me that this particular cookbook was one he would not just loan me but give to me because he told me,"It's in Swedish so I don't have a clue as to what it says."

Now that made me even more curious so you can imagine my surprise then when I opened it and saw that the contents were all in English but even more so, that this cookbook had been compiled and published by the women of Friendship Evangelical Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh, PA in 1949. And on the second page of the cookbook, there was a listing of all the church officials that year -the deacons and trustees, etc., and among the names there was that of my Mom's oldest brother -my uncle, Bertrum Eld!

Ah ha, I thought to myself! Now I know why this cookbook looked so familiar to me as it was because my Mom and Grandma had a cookbook like this that had been given to them by Uncle Bert's wife, my Aunt Nellie, because in it were several recipes she had contributed to the book along with a goodly number of recipes from two of my Mom's first cousins who lived in the Pittsburgh area and who also belonged to the same church there as did my Uncle, his wife and their five children!

Well that's what I thought at first anyway. However, on a close perusal of this cookbook I soon discovered I was wrong about the recipes being in it from my aunt -also about the number of recipes that had been given by my Mom's two cousins too. There were 6 or 7 recipes from Mom's cousin, Esther Wachter (known within the family as "Sister" Wachter, and one recipe from her other cousin, Esther Eld Sabolsice but none, absolutely zilch, in this book from my aunt!

I was a bit confused by this now because I did remember having seen a cookbook given to my Mom and Grandma from Aunt Nellie and I distinctly remembered that she had several recipes in said cookbook and that "Sister" and Esther Sabsolice both had a whole lot of recipes in it as well so why did this cookbook not have those recipes?

I've since come to the conclusion that the women's group of that church has evidently republished that cookbook, probably in the mid 50s I would imagine and when they did that, they kept the name of the cookbook intact but added more recipes to it in the updated version. At least that's what I think happened anyway.

But the only way I can be sure is if I can locate a copy of the mid-50s (by my estimation that's when it would have been done) and then I can see for myself those recipes from my aunt, along with those two cousins!

Now, here's the problem. How does one go about trying to locate one cookbook made by a church group in the mid-50s -which would now then be about 55-56 years old and no doubt any people contributing to that cookbook are all, most likely, by this time, long gone from the face of the earth.

So I thought well, no problem -I'll just find a phone number for the church, give the current pastor a call and see if he would consider putting a blurb in their church bulletin to the current membership to see if anyone might still have a copy of the cookbook I'm seeking that had been passed down to them by their mother, an aunt, maybe their grandmother -who knows, ya know.

That seemed like a pretty plausible way for me to maybe locate this cookbook that had once been here in this house but apparently somewhere along the way, it had gone among the missing because I can't find it anywhere within my house today!

It took me a long, long time of searching online Saturday afternoon and evening to just locate a phone number for the church though because apparently sometime or other over the past 50 plus years, the church has changed its name. It is no longer known as Friendship Evangelical Lutheran Church but rather is now called "Evaline Lutheran Church" located at 259 Evaline Street in Pittsburgh, PA.

Undaunted by something as simple as a change of name, I looked up the phone number for the church, online, and got a number which, when I dialed it gave a message that the number is no longer in service! Hmmm. Now how in blazes does a church function with no telephone anyway?

So, I sent a message to our minister, Pastor Carrie, asking her if she could check out this church and its status within the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod to see if it was still an active congregation or if perhaps the church had disbanded and the members scattered, hither, thither and yon, ya know. She checked it out and responded to me that from what she found, the church has no pastor and has only about 20 members to boot -if that!

So now, my plan of attack is to contact all the other Lutheran churches that are located fairly close to where this church still stands and then, calling or writing to the minister in charge of each of these several parishes to make my probably strange request to them then to see if they would be willing to try to help me find one of these cookbooks!

I have no clue if my plan of attack will work but unless I give it a shot, I'll never know, will I?

And why is it so important for me to locate a copy of this cookbook?

Well, that's mainly because my cousin, Ray -Aunt Nellie and Uncle Bert's son who is my age, mentioned to me when he sent me a couple recipes to put in our cookbook that he has very few, VERY FEW, of his Mom's recipes and how he wishes he had more of them! That, plus two other cousins who are nieces of Esther Eld Sabolsice have expressed a desire to locate some of their aunt's recipes too! So it's a two-fold reason I have there for wanting to find one of these cookbooks if it is at all possible. And then too, I would like to have those same recipes for myself as well because my aunt and my Mom's cousins were all very good cooks and bakers!

So, now that I've written about my search and destroy mission, my reason for writing about it here on my blog is that who knows, but maybe, just maybe, someone will come across my blog and will recognize the name of that church -Friendship Evangelical Lutheran Church at Frienship and Evaline, in Pittsburgh, PA and remember that was the church their family perhaps belonged to way back in the 50s or 60s or thereabouts. And who knows but maybe that same person either had or still has a copy of said cookbook -titled "Swedish Smorgasbord and Hundreds of Favorite Recipes" -nicely tucked away on a shelf somewhere in their kitchen, just waiting to be picked up, opened and maybe even used once again!

And, who knows, but if I were so lucky as to locate someone who has a copy of this cookbook but who doesn't want to part company with it, maybe, just maybe, that person would be kind enough to search through said book, locate all the recipes in it submitted 50 plus years ago by my aunt and those two cousins and that person then would either e-mail me copies of those recipes or send 'em to me via snail mail!

A pretty far-fetched desire or dream I suppose on my part but then again, to quote one of my favorite comediennes, Judy Tenuto, whose tagline is "It could happen. It could HAPPEN!" msybe, just maybe, I'll hit the jackpot and my search and destroy mission will come to a very fruitful end then.

So, if you know anyone who lived in or near the area of Evaline and Friendship in Pittsburgh, PA and especially if you know they belonged to this particular church, please tell them to reach out and touch me -by phone, e-mail, whatever means possible, and tell me when and where I can find either this cookbook or at least those recipes given for it by my aunt, Nellie Eld, or cousins on my Mom's side of the family -Esther "Sister" Wachter Rinehart or Esther Eld Sabolsice, both of Pittsburgh, PA. My Aunt and Uncle resided in Monroeville, on Woodhaven Drive until about 1969 or so, when my aunt sold their family home there after my uncle passed away.

With a prayer and wings for it, who knows what can happen.

Right?

1 comment:

Amateur Cook said...

Hi Jeni. Wish I could help. Just read of your plight and did some quick searching, but to no avail.

Closest I got to any old cookbooks is at:

http://www.lib.msu.edu/branches/dmc/digitalsearch.jsp?string=cookbook&field=title

But yours isn't there, although there are some beauties!