If you read my post last night, you already know what this evening’s is about, and I hope you are as excited about it as I am. People, I am going to tell you about a culinary treasure and important bit of Queensborough‘s history. It is the Queensboro (note old-fashioned spelling; I wrote about that once, here) Cook Book, produced in 1966 under the auspices of the United Church Women at St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough. It is full of good recipes – and, perhaps more to the point, good memories.
And I am thrilled to report that, thanks to two friends and readers of this blog, I now possess not one but two copies! Barbara Martin and Isabella Shaw, both Queensborough natives (and, incidentally, closely related; Isabella is Barb’s niece) came to my rescue when I did a post about vintage church cookbooks in general, and more specifically my heartfelt wish to have a copy of the Queensboro Cook Book.
My mum, Lorna Sedgwick, has one, of course; she was a member of the UCW when the book was produced, as she pretty well would have had to be, being the minister’s wife and all. Mum has used her copy so much that pages are falling out and it is covered in stains and spatters; and isn’t that the sign of a good cookbook? And so she would never part with it.
But Barb had a spare copy that had belonged to her mother-in-law, and Isabella had a copy too, and both offered them to me. I hope they knew, and still know, how much that offer meant to me. Really, I am not exaggerating when I say I am thrilled to have that cookbook. I am a bit of a collector of cookbooks, both new and vintage, but this latest addition to the collection will probably always be the most precious.
Leafing through its pages makes me think of three things: first, of the good things to eat that came to our table in the Manse kitchen thanks to those recipes; second, of how Queensborough in 1966 truly was another time and another place – another world, really, one that’s disappearing even from memory, but that I hope with this blog to help preserve a little bit; and finally, of the women who worked so hard to feed their families good meals, even as they cleaned house, did church work, mended clothes, grew gardens, milked cows, and in some cases held down part-time or full-time jobs. As I said in last night’s related post, about two other treasures that Barb Martin has passed on to me, I think it is important to keep alive the memory and the legacy of those hard-working Queensborough women of the past. To honour those women’s history.
Okay: I hope I’m right in thinking that you’d like to get a peek inside the Queensboro Cook Book, and that’s just what I’m going to give you. Here is a gallery of photos featuring both the recipe pages and the advertising pages (which are classic):
So there you go, people: a glimpse into a long-ago past, and the way we ate. It’s a little tribute by me (by way of Barb and Isabella, whom I thank once again) to the sturdy, hard-working, good-hearted women of the Queensborough of my childhood – who also happened to be excellent cooks.
And I guess that tribute has also turned into a reminder of how we used to refer to married women by their husbands’ first names, as though they had no names of their own. I miss a great deal about those days, but some things have definitely changed for the better.