The Dobson family lived the good farm life, which means they had plenty to eat and not much cash. That’s why I constantly marvel that they had a camera. Occasionally, probably as funds allowed, they would take a lot of pictures. Then I’ll notice a gap of perhaps five years before another series of pictures.
In 1912, they took a lot of pictures. Ina, my grandmother, even hung a sheet and experimented with artistic expression. The “still life” above, which I call “autumn abundance,” appears to be one of the 1912 series -- and also this cute picture of Aunt Ethel holding Aunt Shirley with Vance (my dad) behind her shoulder. I think the picture is charming, even if the girls and the doll could be better posed.
Recently I came upon a pretty little notebook with pencil attached in the Dobson memorabilia box. “Garden Book, 1935,” says the first page, written in ink in a neat, legible hand – probably Aunt Shirley’s. Grandma Ina’s penciled scrawl shows up on page 2. So, the two of them were keeping notes on the garden and an inventory of what they canned. Shirley’s handwriting disappears with the 1936 entries – perfectly reasonable since she married in June 1937. Grandma’s entries continue off and on until 1946.
I’ve noticed the little notebook before, of course, but today I discovered some fun things. The actual notebook was probably a freebie advertising American Wire Rope, which was sold by John Oud Hardware Company, Orofino. And then someone, perhaps Aunt Shirley, glued pretty pictures over the front and back and attached the little pencil on a string -- really quite clever.
Some of the entries seem out of order and I didn’t understand until I realized they were inventories by date of canned products remaining on the shelf and not chronological notes. Other notes include planting information as well as canning methods.
Here’s one of Aunt Shirley’s entries:
“Canning record for 1935: Peas – 23 quarts canned the 3-hour way. Note from 1934 tried and proved. Can like this in 1936. Cook open pot till tender, then one hour process. Taste fresher.” (Bear in mind that they canned on a wood stove.)
She goes on to expand the inventory:
Beans – 24 quarts
Beets – 6 quarts
Cherries (Olivet) – 16 quarts
Apricots (Clarkston, Wn) -- 24 pints
Peaches (Elberta – 1 box) – 15 pints
Pears (local) – 13 pints
Elderberries – 3 pints
In 1942, Ina made this entry: “To can raspberries make a thin syrup and pour boiling hot over berries. Put jars into hot water about same as jars are after syrup is on. [?] Bring to a boil, then pull to back of stove for a little longer, 10 to 15 minutes. This is fine. Try to put up strawberries same way, also Logans, etc. Myrtle and I canned raspberries as above this year of 1942.”
Ina’s notes and inventories were meaningful to her, and of course, she never thought that anyone else would read these scrawlings. But, of course, I do read them and I have questions:
I know the “Olivets” were sour cherries, but does she call the sour cherry trees that were behind the house “Olivets” and is that the same as a Montmorency?
Did the Italian prunes come from the trees in the Stove Creek gulley? Did she pick them or did someone pick them for her?
Youngberries, Loganberries, blackberries, raspberries – Were these bushes on the property? How did she come by the huckleberries? I know where the gooseberry bush was – at the top of the lane, and maybe I remember currants, too, though I don’t know where the bush was.
And yes, she mentions elderberries but doesn’t say in what form she canned them. I wonder how she used the elderberries. KW