Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Did the Chicken Bone Cross the Road?

I know how you feel. Truly, I understand. The boxes of papers, the clipped recipes kept over the years, old letters and cards, the list goes on. You want to toss them into the fireplace or throw them into the trash just to get rid of the clutter. Whoa.....slow down. A bit of history just might be in your hands.

My daughter has Mom's old cookbook. Though worn and tattered, the cookbook holds treasures. Well, treasures for this writer. This book resided in our kitchen. Where the book came from is a mystery to me. The publishing date is 1936. Was it a wedding gift? Perhaps it belonged to Mom Johnson or one of my aunts. But this is not about the book. This is about the treasures between the pages.

As a young bride, I spent many hours sifting through magazine, clipping recipes and helpful hints. I carried that pile of clippings from one coast to another. How many did I use? Well, a few years ago I pitched the stack of 'unused' recipes. Over the years I had probably only used less than ten. Now as a woman with more time on my hands and a hankering for bits of the past, I find a rich history between the pages of the old book, pieces of yellowed paper that my mother once clipped from newspapers and magazines.

The page I found this morning came from a magazine page of the Prairie Farmer dated September 15, 1948, when I was one. The page is covered with history. A woman in a bibbed apron stands holding a package of Fleischmann's dry yeast. A freezer can be purchased for $350. Less mending and longer wear are available from rip-proof, Rockford Socks. A machete can be purchased for 75 cents. A list of time saving suggestions fills the page.

I scanned the list looking for new 'old' ideas: a straw cut into sections and placed through a pie crust allow the steam to escape, a teaspoon of lemon juice added to the water when cooking rice will keep the grain separate and snowy white. I continued to read until I hit a suggestion that was a bit disturbing:

"Chicken wishbones can be put to many uses. Wash them in soapsuds, dry them and paint them with bright nail polish and tie one to each gift package. They may also be made into little dolls or you may crochet around them, adding a little crocheted bag to hold a thimble or a sachet."

Hm. The Loxley girls would fight over the wishbones. Who would be married first? Who would get the wish? My granddaughters do the same. It was fun to crack that wishbone, but the idea of holding that bone from some chicken who gave up its life for our dinner and giving it a fresh coat of nail polish, let alone dressing it up as a doll, is just wrong. I will probably have dreams of dancing dolls with chicken bone arms tonight. Revenge of the chicken.

Oh, well, one never knows what one might find in those stacks of old books and papers. A history, a chuckle, a bright idea just might be waiting.

"Why did the chicken bone cross the road?"
"I don't know. Why?"
"To get a manicure."

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