Tag Archives: Mingo Oklahoma

Christmas Then, It Was Different


Growing up in 1950s and 1960s America -it was a different world. My sons don’t really believe that. Like many other young people, they think that things have always been like they are now – for instance, crime and deviancy and government control, selfishness and a lack of self control, victimology,etc.

Life was palpably different. It was simpler. It was harder. It was better. (Right here is where one always has to insert the politically correct caveat about the things which actually have improved. That has become tiresome and I’ll resist it this time.)

A common complaint/observation about modern life is the commercialism, greed and joylessness at Christmas, which I believe is pretty accurate.

How has it changed? Well, for starters, it was a joyous season.

Born in the mid-1950s and raised in Mingo, a working class neighborhood, my friends and I looked forward to Christmas for lots of reasons, presents being only one of the many elements. Among them were the art projects and the yearly religious Christmas program at our public school, a program at church, shared secrets about gifts, helping my mother stamp the Christmas cards, receiving cards in the mail and hearing from friends and relatives, the family gathering to open presents on Christmas Eve (we had to wait until the sun was down and it seemed like it took forever). The big dinner at noon on Christmas day and the drive around Tulsa looking at lights on Christmas night. Daddy and Mama enjoyed it all as much as the children did.

One of my fondest memories is of the time I made marshmallow snowmen with toothpicks. That was a really simple thing but I remember how much fun it was.

Christmas wish lists were only in the cartoons. I never wrote one and if my friends did, they never told me about it. It never even occured to me.

None of the children in my neighborhood demanded particular gifts. Certainly there were things we wanted and told our parents about, but our world wasn’t centered around what we didn’t have or didn’t get. Christmas and birthdays were about the only times during the year when we got new toys but even then it was with restraint. I never had my own hula hoop or twirling baton or baby buggy or dollhouse, but some of my friends did and they shared nicely. It seems that I was the only one with Tinker Toys and I shared. My friend, Joy, had her mother’s original Shirley Temple doll and wicker doll buggy; we were allowed to play with it together.

My mother made all the females new Christmas dresses every year – everything else came from the store or catalog but even so it wasn’t as commercial as it is now. Retailers are only partly to blame for what has happened; we have become a very greedy, demanding society. There are gift registries for brides and babies and probably every other occasion; goodness, someone wouldn’t want a gift that they haven’t chosen for themselves!

We were not princesses and we certainly weren’t treated as such.

As for the decorating, we always had a cut tree and the big lights and a star on top of the tree. Each year my parent sent out lots of cards. Mama decorated with the ones we received and we enjoyed looking at them on display during December. She had a few other decorations sitting around, but it wasn’t the overwhelming obsession with more and more. I enjoy beautifully decorated houses at Christmas, but honestly, it is a little tiring just to even look at them.

This year Christmas is simpler at our house. Fewer decorations and I’m enjoying that. The perfect gift is not my goal; I am considering what each member of my family would enjoy and I’m also complying with what we can afford.

It is absolutely no coincidence that Christmas has lost a lot of joy in modern times. Leftist leaders have stripped as much meaning out of everything as they can.

If we can’t acknowledge the birth of our Saviour, how can we celebrate? Silly, manufactured “holidays” like kwanzaa and winter solstice are empty and hollow pathetic attempts at counterfeit substitutions for Jesus.

What is there to celebrate? God’s gift of His Son to a lost and dying world.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960's, America, Childhood pastimes, Christmas, Current Events, Faith, Family, Mingo, Oklahoma, Tulsa

Cockeyed Cake (Chocolate)

Don’t have any eggs, shortening or 30 minutes to devote to making a cake? Cockeyed Cake doesn’t even require a mixer and is a very thrifty recipe.

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The I Hate to Cook Book


This recipe comes from the Peg Bracken’s 1960 “The I Hate to Cook Book”. As you can see from the photo, my copy is quite worn, but it’s one of my favorite cookbooks because it blends good, dependable recipes with humor and clever illustrations. It’s very mid-century, so if you like this era, I highly recommend this book.

When I was in grade school at Mingo (and when school cafeterias actually cooked instead of the way they do it now – just reheating frozen food), the cafeteria ladies made this cake but they called it Wacky Cake. This is what Peg says on pages 91-92 and will give you an idea about her writing style, which I find very amusing:

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Illustrations by Hilary Knight


“This is a famous recipe, I believe, but I haven’t the faintest idea who invented it. I saw it in a newspaper years ago, meant to clip it, didn’t, and finally bumped into the cake itself in the apartment of a friend of mine. It was dark, rich, moist, and chocolatey, and she said it took no more than five minutes to mix it up. So I tried it, and, oddly enough, mine, too, was dark, rich, moist and chocolatey. My own timing was five and a half minutes, but that includes looking for the vinegar.)

Cockeyed Cake

1 1/2 c. sifted flour
3 T. cocoa
1 t. soda
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
~~

5 T. cooking oil
1 T. vinegar
1 t. vanilla
1 c. cold water

Put your sifted flour back in the sifter, add to it the cocoa, soda, sugar and salt, and sift this right into a greased square cake pan, about 9x9x2 inches. Now you make three grooves, or holes, in this dry mixture. Into one, pour the oil; into the next the vinegar; into the next the vanilla. Now pour the cold water over it all. You’ll feel like you’re making mud pies now, but beat it with a spoon until it’s nearly smooth and you can’t see the flour. Bake it at 350 degrees for half an hour.”

Chocolate Icing
1 T. butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. cocoa
dash salt
1 t. vanilla
3-4 T. milk
1/2 c. chopped pecans

1.While cake is baking, place butter in mixing bowl to allow to come to room temperature.
2. Sift powdered sugar, salt and cocoa together.
3. Add most of the milk and vanilla. Blend well.
4. Mix in chopped pecans.
5. Place on warm, not hot, cake and allow to soften a bit before icing.


Cake Notes
:
*At the bottom of this post I’ll include the amounts for a double recipe, which is what I usually make. Realizing that anyone can double the above amounts, I have gotten myself in trouble on other recipes by forgetting to double some of them. It’s so much easier to have it all written down.
*Even though she says you can mix it in the cake pan itself, I find it difficult to do. If you are proficient at it, go ahead, it will save you having to wash a bowl.
*A few years ago, I read that one should only grease the bottom of a cake pan, because an ungreased side gives the cake something to cling to and rise nicely. So that’s what I’ve down ever since and it’s never caused a problem. Just run a knife around the edge of the pan before serving to loosen it.
*The picture below doesn’t do justice to the cake. It’s a really nice, chocolatey cake, just as Peg said.

Icing Notes

*The Mingo School cafeteria ladies didn’t ice the cake, they simply sifted powdered sugar over the cake. This works fine if you’re serving all of it immediately, but the next day it absorbs some of the oil from the cake and begins to look tired.
*This is my standard icing recipe that I learned from my mother. I never measure the ingredients, but I did today for this post.
* Baking time is subject to the vagaries of your own oven. This morning it took an extra 30 minutes. There must be something wrong with my thermostat. Just keep checking it after 30 minutes and use the toothpick test.
*Once I used cream in the icing recipe instead of milk and really didn’t care for the result. It stayed way too soft for me.
*The milk requirement in the icing is variable. Too much and it will be runny, too little and it will tear up the cake when you try to spread it. After adding the initial amount, mix it up and add only 1 T. at a time.
*Don’t put the sifter in the sink after you use it. You might need to add more powdered sugar if the icing is too thin. This has happened to me many times.
*This is a good recipe if you have a vegan in your family. Just use vegetable shortening (instead of butter) and water (instead of milk) in the icing recipe.

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Cockeyed Cake

Double Cake Recipe:
3. c. flour
6 T. cocoa (1/4 c. + 1/8 c.)
2 t. soda
2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
~~
10 T. oil (1/2 c. + 1/8 c.)
2 T. vinegar
2 t. vanilla
2 c. cold water

Double Icing Recipe
2 T. butter
3 c. powdered sugar
dash salt
2 t. vanilla
1/4 + 1/8 c. milk
1 c. chopped pecans

This post is linked to:
Food on Fridays @ annkroeker
Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom

*Updated October 28, 2012: a reader (Peg) pointed out that I had doubled the amount of cocoa in the half recipe. That has been corrected, and I sincerely hope it didn’t cause any trouble for anyone. The Wacky Cake recipe that our cafeteria ladies made was indeed more chocolatey than this one from the I Hate to Cook Book, but I doubt it was twice as chocolatey.

Mea Culpa.

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Filed under 1960's, Books, Cookbooks, Cooking, Mingo, Oklahoma, Thrift, Using What You Have

Kitchens, etc.

Can’t title this one ‘Bathing Beauty’ because that little girl is me, but I can say that I wish I was still that cute.

Bath in Kitchen Sink, June 1955

This is our kitchen in 1955. Notice my brother’s Roy Rogers lunch pail on the counter; or it could have been my sister’s. These were the cabinets we had until my dad and brother started their new business venture, Edens and Son General Contractors.

Carl Edens about 1965

Carl Edens about 1965


Daddy had a very strong work ethic (his first job was taking drinking water out to the oil field workers in Oklahoma at age six, about 1915), but McDonald Douglas Aircraft+government contracts= frequent layoffs. When the contract ran out, he would work at home remodeling, construction, roofing; whatever he could find and it was usually in the winter.

Carl Edens about 1966
(Notice the clothes pin bag hanging by the back door on the left. This time Daddy doesn’t have a cigarette, that’s a kitchen match in his mouth; he smoked a lot and if he didn’t have a cigarette in his mouth, he usually had a toothpick or a matchstick there.)

Anyway, about 1965 his income became much steadier and bountiful. It wasn’t long before my parents decided the kitchen needed a new look. My brother and sister-in-law had bought a new home and my mother liked her cabinets so much that she used Carolyn’s as a model.

The appliances were kind of a chocolate brown, the stovetop was set into the counter, and the oven was built into the cabinet area. 60s modern! No more bending over to look inside. Right after this photo was taken, they bought a matching brown side-by-side Sears refrigerator. Sears Best. And it must have been, because that refrigerator lasted until about 1994!

Antiques were not popular then, and my mother has never really understood their attraction, unless it’s the really high end items. She said she grew up with old stuff and she didn’t want any more of it. (Funny because that’s what my friend said the day we went to the antique mall and tea room. That was her first trip to an antique store and she didn’t understand the allure of wash boards, etc.) So, every 4 or 5 years, we’d get new furniture or a new car. My parents really knew the value of a dollar and got the most for it. We never shopped in south Tulsa (the affluent area) but they got as good a value for their money as they could. Daddy was a Ford man. I only knew one person who drove a Buick or an Oldsmobile and that was my uncle who worked for an oil company.

All that was to say, that when our income went up, my parents responded by improving what they had instead of going for something bigger and nicer. They remodeled the kitchen and then paid off the mortgage on the house about 4 years later.

Mingo is no longer there. Well, of course, the land is still there and some of the trees but in 1992, the airport bought all the land and moved everyone out because of the noise problem. The houses are gone. What remains of my mother’s new kitchen is a cabinet door they removed when Daddy bought her a new dishwasher and had it installed. My husband drilled holes in the old door to make us a Wa-hoo board.

I’m so glad he did.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960's, Family, Kitchens, Mingo, Oklahoma

Kitchen Tables

our house, 1967

Houses were much smaller when I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s. Even new houses in Tulsa were small. I grew up in Mingo, just north of the city, a tiny community where none of the houses were new.

Nearly everyone in Mingo ate their meals at the kitchen table. There were almost no dining rooms in my neighborhood. I can only remember 2. Every night families gathered together after their day to share the evening meal. Late afternoon activities that would interfere with a meal were unheard of. Kids in my neighborhood didn’t have dance lessons, and very rarely piano lessons. I had heard there was a boys Little League team but in those days it would not have interfered with the evening meal.

It was a working class neighborhood. After school (and maybe a little television), weather permitting, children played outside: little kids played with dolls or cars, yard games like Hopscotch, Hide and Seek, Statues, Red Light-Green Light, or dress-up and make believe; bigger kids rode their bikes, played driveway basketball, or impromptu softball. Mothers prepared the evening meal. Dads came home from work.

Families sat down together and ate dinner. Webster defines ‘dinner’ as the principal meal of the day. My mother always referred to our evening meal as supper, because when she was a girl, the noon meal was the big one and her mother called it dinner. But unlike her growing up years when her father operated a country store a hundred yards from her house, my father worked at Douglas Aircraft or on a construction job and was too far away at noon to come home and eat. But old habits die hard, and even though she cooked every night, she still called it supper.

So, kitchens were an integral part of our homes.

The kitchen table was where my mother cut out the fabric for the clothes she made for us, where we did our homework, played cards or dominoes on Saturday night and met again each evening over home cooked food. I can remember the table covered with waxed paper and freshly glazed yeast doughnuts that my mother made. And how it felt to sit on my dad’s lap and learn how to play dominoes and Hearts; I don’t remember ever being told to go away while the grown-ups played cards. It was where I sat while my mother helped me practice my spelling words. At Christmas, I made marshmallow snowmen and helped my mother put stamps on Christmas cards. I must have been pretty young the first time because I remember 4 cent stamps – this was a penny less than normal postage for envelopes that weren’t sealed.

Our kitchen, 1966

Our kitchen, 1966


Somehow my mother was able to cook the holiday meals – from scratch – in the same room we ate in and kept it looking nice for the meal. My dad was a John Wayne type but he helped her cook Christmas dinner. However, on Thanksgiving morning, he and my brother were always out hunting. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were always at noon, and I can remember that I used to worry that they wouldn’t be back from hunting so that we could eat on time. They nearly always were.

My family was not able to pass down many family mementos. In 1937, my maternal grandparents home and store were covered with flood water for 2 weeks, ruining nearly everything they had. A few photographs survived and a Bible that still has the silt from the Ohio River dried in its pages. My father’s family had to leave everything at a friend’s house when they left Oklahoma when my grandmother died in the mid-1920’s. They were never able to retrieve their possessions. Oddly enough, only my grandfather’s blacksmithing anvil remains. It weighed about 100 pounds.

So, I didn’t inherit really old family treasures, but I do have several things from my childhood and one of them is our kitchen table. Not the first one I remember – 1950’s chrome and gray formica topped. The one they bought in 1964 – brown, wood grain formica with painted scenes in two opposite corners. It’s the one you can see in the background of some of my recipe and craft posts.

It’s not valuable or even particularly lovely to anyone else. Our home isn’t big enough to have a dining room, so our old table sits in the middle of our kitchen. It’s the one that my dad sat at to feed our sons, and it’s the one we sit around with our grandsons and share meals when they come to visit.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960's, Childhood pastimes, Family, Kitchens, Mingo, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Using What You Have