So, Al drove his big old car down into Little Canyon and stopped at the Dryden home for Earle and Bernice. Earle, Julian and Ina’s third child, was a high school teacher in Idaho Falls, and he and his wife Bernice came “home” most every summer so that he could help Julian with harvest and Bernice could visit her family, the Drydens, who lived near the village of Peck. Earle and Bernice followed behind Al in their car. Through Peck they went and now up another steep and winding grade to the top of the ridge, to the area known as Melrose, then on to Uncle Bud Long’s place and the lovely pasture. From Gilbert the journey was probably about 15 miles.
What do you suppose they ate at the picnic? All of the women at the picnic were housewives – every one of them homemakers, experts in the rural home arts. They took pride in the food they prepared for the picnic and serving was done with panache. Informality only went so far with these folks. My guess is that the Dobsons and the Longs, being farm people, generously contributed from their cellars, gardens, and hen houses. The farmer might be cash poor but he ate well and had plenty to share.
Here are some food items that might have been set on the table:
Homemade bread and plenty of it
Fresh butter and cream
Eggs, hard-boiled or deviled
Fresh garden produce
Pickles, home canned, but also cucumbers and onions marinating in vinegar and sugar
Strawberries picked fresh from the garden, perhaps whipped cream
Pies and cakes, especially chocolate cake
Then I asked my sister Harriet, who in 1933 was the little girl on Dorothy’s lap, what she remembered about 1930’s picnics. Here’s what she said: “I think people usually brought their place services [plates, utensils, napkins, cups] if held in a public place, but it varied depending on the size of the crowd. If near a church, their service was used. Chicken or ham would be the main dish. Pies, and all the things you mentioned. I don't remember picnics in 1933, but I am going by the things I have heard Bill's mother say. Lemonade was a big thing with them. They fixed dishes from garden produce. I don't recall her talking about potato salad. I don't recall anything being cooked on site.”
And then as an afterthought Harriet added homemade ice cream to the list. Okay, let’s say they did have homemade ice cream at the picnic, and let’s say that Ina and Julian made it. Perhaps Julian stowed some blocks of ice in the cellar during the winter so that he could make ice cream on the Fourth of July. Here’s Ina’s recipe:
For one gallon ice cream, caramelize one cup sugar. Add water and boil to a smooth, rather thin syrup. Heat about one pint of milk. Thicken with 2 tbsp of cornstarch. Pour this hot over four well beaten eggs and stir thoroughly. Add the syrup and put by to cool. When ready add one quart cream and enough milk to make 3 qts in all. A pinch of salt, 3 to 5 drops of mapleine and vanilla to flavor. Of course, more milk and less cream, or vice versa, may be used, also more eggs and any desired flavoring. But our folk like this way best. Ina Dobson
[Photo 1: Melrose is "over there somewhere."
Photo 2: "Let's take a picture of the women now. Just the women here." L. to r.: Ina Dickson Dobson, Naomi Stinson Long, Nina Saunders (Sanders) Portfors, Lois Reed, Bernice Dryden Dobson, Alice Mary Sanders, Pearl Dobson Sanders, and Muriel Saunders (Sanders) German. In front: Helen Reed, Shirley Jean Robinson, and Dorothy Portfors Walrath with Harriet Lee (who has had enough!).
Photo 3: "Now just the Dobsons -- let's get a picture of the Dobsons." L. to r.: Earle, his wife Bernice, Pearl, Al, Ina, Julian, and Stanley with Shirley Jean in front.
Note that most of the women are wearing long sleeves.] KW