Wild Salad, Nettle Beer and the Mysterious Aristene Pixley

The fourth post in our series on cooking with recipes from our Vermont cookbook collection was contributed by Richard Witting, a UVM History graduate student as well as a chef, caterer and avid wildcrafter (forager).  He joined Special Collections staff member Ingrid Bower to explore cookbooks, gather wild ingredients, and test recipes.

Foraging for Recipes

On a hot day in mid-June after much anticipation, I walked into the Silver Special Collections Library for the first time. Giddy as a schoolboy, I was led to the cookbook section where, in the silence of the library, I was able to spend the next three hours examining culinary pamphlets and faded spiral bound community cookbooks that came from Vermont authors, small towns and churches, setting aside some, putting most back. Although I wanted to tarry longer on many of them, eager to look for the human stories and unique recipes within, I was after a specific type of recipe—those that used wild or foraged ingredients.

Sitting down at a table with a stack of books that looked to hold the most promise, I scanned the recipes. I had hoped the older cookbooks, from the later 1800s, might show some link to the foodways of early European settlers in Vermont but there was little there to be found. There were some Abenaki cookbooks, but that seemed like a special topic for another post.

Most of the plastic spiral bound community cookbooks from the 1960s hold many of the same recipes, reflecting the progress of national food trends (jello salads, meat balls, casseroles) or generic New England staples like boiled dinner, clam chowder, or American chop suey. Peppered throughout these cookbooks I did occasionally find a recipe using mostly familiar wild foods like fiddleheads, dandelions, and raspberries but also a few rarer ingredients like chokecherries, gooseberries and, surprisingly, a few recipes for pickled nasturtium pods.

Among these mostly rather droll community cookbooks however there was one book that, from the second I saw the title, I suspected would be more interesting: The Northeast Kingdom Cookbook: Recipes & Remedies from Vermont (1986). If there was anywhere I expected to find a cookbook with a regional character the NEK was likely to be it. Flipping through it, not only did I see numerous and creative recipes using wild edibles, but I also saw stories about the recipes and where they came from. Many were especially unique (Bluefish, Gin and Wine Flambé, Elderflower Blow ), some crass and funny (Thighs of Delight, Slut Biscuits) and some truly enigmatic (Shaggy Manes a la Ambiguity, Mystery Morsels).

Besides the rows of community and church cookbooks there were a few others, published roughly from the 1930s to the 1960s, that tried to represent— or invent—a unique regional Vermont culinary identity. A few of these I was familiar with, including the books by the fictional Mrs. Appleyard (Louise Andrews Kent), made popular by her column in Vermont Life magazine, and A Vermont Cook Book by Vermont Cooks, first issued in 1946 with its rustic, folksy, hand-painted wooden cover and reprinted numerous times over the next four decades.

However, there were a few more I had never seen, including one that jumped out to me. The Green Mountain Cook Book by Aristene Pixley (1934) has a lengthy introduction about Vermont character and cooking, as well as an extensive section on home brewed fermented beverages. Setting aside the rest of the stack I decided to hone in on The Northeast Kingdom Cookbook and The Green Mountain Cook Book.

Nettle Beer from Aristene Pixley’s The Green Mountain Cook Book

The Green Mountain Cook Book was published by the Stephen Daye Press in Brattleboro, famous for their New England nostalgia-focused books. Flipping through the book, I felt like it had a story to tell. While not wholly different from cookbooks of its era, interspersed are recipes using Gilfeather turnips—a uniquely Vermont variety—and recipes for bass, perch, pickerel and frogs legs. Most intriguing though, it contains an extensive list of unique beverages, including beef tea, flax seed lemonade, grape shrub, rhubarb wine, metheglin, elderberry beer, Vermont beer made from hops and molasses, spruce beer and nettle beer. Looking through this list, and considering the time of year, I knew that nettles could still be found, and what exactly nettle beer would taste like intrigued me.

Having done a decent amount of brewing in my life, the recipe raised a few questions for me as I came up with my plan for making it. First, I decided I did not need three gallons, so I decided to halve the recipe. Next, I would need some nettles. Luckily while visiting a friend in Huntington I was easily able to gather a pound of nettle crowns—with some thick gloves and scissors. Vermont has two types of nettles, wood nettle (Laportea canadensis), an indigenous variety that grows prolifically along river banks below the shade of cottonwoods and box elders, and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), which is an introduced species from Europe. Though both are edible, recipes usually call for the latter so that’s what I gathered.

I then boiled the nettles in a pot with some water. Looking ahead, the recipe calls for diluting the boiled concentrated nettle water. Not seeing what would be gathered by reducing it and then adding water, I used more water so the nettles stayed submerged during boiling. Having worked with herbs and teas, I didn’t see the point of boiling it for a lengthy time, as most of the essence would come out quickly from a tender plant like nettle,

Next I  combined the ingredients as instructed. It was unclear to me if the lemon rind would include the pith as well as the peel. I decided to go with just the peel so as not to make the brew overly bitter.

The cream of tartar in the recipe had me scratching my head wondering what purpose it served. Usually cream of tartar in used in baking, often with eggs to stiffen peaks. I emailed my friend Ricky Klein, who owns Groenfell Meadery, and asked him what he thought it would do in the recipe. He said cream of tartar is used for its semi sweet-sour flavor to add complexity to beverages. The internet also said it helped give a foamier head to drinks like root beer.

After mixing everything and letting it cool, I then had to add in a “yeast cake.” Yeast cakes, as far as I know, are an old-time unit of baker’s yeast. Not wishing to try and track down a yeast cake, and knowing that beverages brewed with baker’s yeast, rather than brewer’s yeast, just aren’t as good, I decided to use a package of champagne yeast I had on hand.

The recipe also calls for doing this all in a crock, something I don’t have in the correct size for this project. So instead, I used a jug with an airlock. But for authenticity, I made a smaller jar with a loose-fitting lid as well. Within an hour the nettle beer was bubbling along.

While waiting for the nettle beer to brew I couldn’t help but wonder who Aristene Pixley was. The name had a certain seelie-like ring to it that evoked deep green Vermont forests and shadowy mountains filled with ancient wisdom. In other words, it sounded like a pseudonym. Doing some quick googling I couldn’t find any birth or death records for an Aristene Pixley.

I did find a number of contemporaneous articles about the publishing of her cookbook. The Burlington Free Press noted that “Aristene Pixley, a former play-producer …has chosen this as her pen name. She is a Vermonter born and bred” (December 8, 1934). This confirmed that the name was a pseudonym, possibly to cover that the author might not pass muster, having spent some part of their life apparently as a big city flatlander.

The Bennington Evening Banner offered a more scathing review. “The author is Aristene Pixley, a nom de plume perhaps to save her from verbal chastisement from those reckless enough to try her recipes” (August 8, 1934). The writer’s criticism focused on some of the recipes, specifically a recipe for “kumyss,” a Turkic-Mongolian drink, that also had me wondering at how it got there; her directions for making metheglin, a spiced mead that she was apparently not making in a way that either Ira or Ethan Allen had; and lastly her pairing of brook trout with watercress when, according to the author, the season for those two does not coincide. Cowslips, he wrote, might be a more appropriate pairing. I would later discover that the author’s name, penciled in on the Silver Collections copy, was in fact Helen Elizabeth Tyler.

Two days later, when the recipe said I should bottle it, the nettle beer was still bubbling away at a rate that, if bottled, I knew would be a risk for bottle explosion. Three more days later, the bubbling had slowed to a reasonable rate and I felt I could bottle it. The beer had turned opaque and the green tone faded to a brown. Taking a small cup, I gave it a try. At this point the nettle beer didn’t really have that much to offer—a bit of a taste of ginger and yeast. Considering how many nettles went into this brew though, I imagine it must be filled with nutrients and that, perhaps like spruce beers which were high in vitamin C and prevented scurvy, nettles would serve a similar purpose.

Two weeks later, the wine had cleared, the sediment having fallen to the bottom, and the beer had an intriguing greenish rainbow hue to it. Tasting again, it had become more intriguing in its depth, slightly tart dry. It was still (not sparkling), so I added a little more sugar and rebottled it. I suspect in a few months of resting it might be further improved.

I would try this recipe again but with some changes. First, I would not dilute the nettles and would use more. Also, using sugar only creates a much flatter brew compared to using honey or malt — and if I wanted to get technical a beer is brewed from malted grains not sugar.  There’s also a chance that aging it will produce a better brew; usually two days of resting a drink gives you a very rough drink. Regardless of the end result, I found Aristene Pixley quite an intriguing character and enjoyed having a chance to try something new.

Northeast Kingdom Wild Salad

For my second recipe, I searched the Northeast Kingdom cookbook and found a recipe for Wild Salad with Boiled Dressing. It calls for red onion, spinach, purslane, dandelion leaves, lamb’s quarters and marigold petals, day lily blossoms* or squash blossoms. The directions are simple: “Wash all and carefully inspect for lurking protein (bugs). Spin or shake to remove excess moisture. Toss just before serving with boiled dressing. The purslane and lambs quarter provide a wonderful counterpoint to the sweet dressing.”

Feeling like this was a recipe where you have some flexibility with what you’ve got, I decided to get creative. Looking into my fridge, I found wild lettuce (lactuca virosa), sedum (yes, the kind in your garden), purslane and dandelion leaves. In addition, I picked day lily flowers, marigold leaves (only a few as they’re strong), marigold flowers and lamb’s quarters from my yard. I didn’t have spinach and used romaine instead. After washing and mixing, I started the boiled dressing.

The dressing recipe includes sugar, salt, ginger, water, egg yolks, vinegar and butter. I mixed the eggs with vinegar (I used cider vinegar) and I whisked it over a double boiler as it heated up. The recipe didn’t specify if I should warm the egg-vinegar mixture fully, then add the water-flour mixture, so I decided to add it while still warming up. As I kept whisking it got very foamy but didn’t thicken. The recipe then says to finish it by adding butter. My instinct said the butter should be melted first. Slowly pouring in the butter, the fat in it bound with the egg, vinegar, water, flour mixture and it quickly became a rather thick dressing with the consistency of mayonnaise.

After it cooled, I took a spoonful and mixed it in the salad, stirred it up and began eating. The salad dressing, which had tasted like an overly sweet and vinegary cheap store-bought salad dressing, mellowed out when paired with the strong, sour bitter greens. Additionally, as it was so thick, it didn’t make the salad have a wet feel to it which I thought was to its credit. Overall, I enjoyed the salad, but I wouldn’t say the recipe was anything I couldn’t have thought of myself. The boiled dressing, while an interesting experiment in cooking science, I don’t think I need to try again. That said, I think it could easily be adjusted to be a bit better, maybe with less sugar or maple syrup instead and a smaller amount of a different vinegar.

Note: Some people are allergic to day lilies, so eat with caution by trying them first from the same patch.  Make sure you use day lilies (genus Hemerocallis) and not the Asian lilies (genus Lilium).

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Consuelo Northrop Bailey, UVM ’21: A Political Trailblazer

Consuelo Northrop Bailey helped paved the way for Vermont women in politics. Her list of political firsts is impressive. Here we outline her long career and bring it to life with photographs from UVM’s Consuelo Northrop Bailey Papers.

Born in Fairfield, Vermont in 1899, Consuelo Northrop attended the University of Vermont (class of 1921) and law school at Boston University (class of 1925).

A portrait of Consuelo Bentina Northrop from the 1921 UVM yearbook including a short list of her extracurricular activities and interests, emphasizing athletics

Consuelo Northrop’s entry in the 1921 UVM yearbook

Returning to Burlington, Consuelo prepared for the bar exam while working in the office of Judge Alfred L. Sherman. (She passed that October and was sworn in in January 1926, becoming the seventh woman admitted to practice law in Vermont.) Only a few months after graduating from law school, Consuelo announced her interest in the position of Grand Juror for the City of Burlington. Coverage of her candidacy noted her legal degree, debate experience, and work as editor of the school’s legal journal. The City Council appointed her in September 1925. She was the first woman to serve in this role for the city.

In an interview on the day her appointment was announced, City Judge Clarence P. Cowles commented that it was “very fitting that we have a woman for Grand Juror” because their work “may be classed as a kind of social service” in which women are “naturally interested,” while the State’s Attorney would handle serious crimes and contentious courtrooms (Burlington Daily News, September 10, 1925). As grand juror, Consuelo prosecuted cases centering on a variety of issues such as speeding, possession of alcohol (during prohibition), disturbing the peace, and non-support of family dependents.

A formal portrait of Consuelo lightly leaning on the back of an armchair.

Consuelo Northrop circa 1930

There’s no shortage of irony in Judge Cowles’ statement, because Consuelo Northrop was elected State’s Attorney of Chittenden County in 1926 and reelected in 1928. She was the first woman to serve in this role in Vermont. After several years as a prosecutor, “the pendulum of public sentiment had swung so far away from the prohibition law that it was almost impossible to secure a conviction for any offense pertaining to the liquor traffic”[1]. It had also given her experience and insight into prospective legislation to address important issues. She was easily elected to the Vermont State Senate, representing Chittenden County, for a term lasting from 1931 to 1933, at a time when women were scarce in either chamber.

 

Another first came in 1933 when Consuelo, still actively working as a lawyer, was the first Vermont woman to be admitted to practice in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to her other responsibilities,  Consuelo also worked as the personal secretary for U.S. Representative and Senator Ernest W. Gibson from 1931 to 1937 and thus spent part of the year in Washington, D.C. Somehow she found time to join The Little Congress, a debating organization made up of Congressional staffers and Capitol workers, who would consider issues before the real lawmakers, emulating their style and rules.

A photograph of eight adults (six women flanked by two men) standing shoulder to shoulder with the capitol building in Washington, D.C. in the background The men wear dark three piece suits with ties and hold their hats while the women wear skirts suits or long sleeved dresses, hats, and gloves.

Vermont members of The Little Congress. Consuelo is the fourth from right.

A formal portrait of a man wearing a suit and round glasses

Henry Albon Bailey circa 1930

Consuelo Northrop’s time in Washington came to an end in 1937 after experiencing dissatisfaction with the spending associated with New Deal programs and Democratic leadership in general. She returned to Vermont, where she established a private law office in Burlington. In 1940, she married Henry Albon Bailey (1893-1961). He was a fellow lawyer who had previously been Mayor of Winooski and had served in both chambers in the state legislature.

A lifelong supporter of the Republican Party, Consuelo was active in political campaigns as a speaker and successful fundraiser. She was a member of the Republican National Committee from 1936 to 1976. This meant a significant amount of travel across the country to garner support for various candidates as well as work on important subcommittees. She was a delegate to the national conventions in 1936 and 1944.

The 1950s were a very busy time for Consuelo, with service in multiple capacities with little to no break in between. In 1950, she ran unopposed for South Burlington’s seat in Vermont’s House and served from 1951 to 1955. Consuelo was chosen as Speaker in 1953, beating five male candidates, marking another first for women in Vermont politics.

A close up portrait of Consuelo with her right arm raised

Consuelo being sworn in as Speaker of the Vermont House in January of 1953. Her own caption notes that she “never was happier.”

In 1953, Consuelo became Vice Chair of the Republican National Committee and served until 1957. Also in 1953, she was appointed to the U.S. Post Office Advisory Board by President Eisenhower. Vice President Nixon performed the swearing in ceremony.

A group portrait showing several men wearing suits as well as Consuelo Northrop Bailey and President Eisenhower in the center. Everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. The President’s desk is visible in the foreground while two flags and several window treatments are apparent in the background.

Consuelo Bailey with President Eisenhower in the Oval Office

In 1954 Bailey became the first woman in the country elected Lieutenant Governor, having been the first Republican woman ever to run for the seat. This achievement made her the only woman, at that time, who had led both of their state’s legislative chambers.

Consuelo standing at a podium holding a wooden gavel.

Presiding over the Vermont Senate as Lieutenant Governor in 1955

A photograph of Richard Nixon, visible in an obscured profile, stood shaking hands with Consuelo Northrop Bailey in front of a light-colored curtain. She appears to be speaking and he is gently smiling; they are both making eye contact with each other.

Bailey chats with Vice President Richard Nixon.

 

Bailey continued to vigorously promote the Republican Party and its candidates. In 1956 and 1972 she was a Presidential Elector. During the conventions in 1968 and 1972, she was honored to call the roll of delegates during the voting process.

Retiring from the Republican National Committee in 1973, Bailey focused on writing her autobiography, Leaves Before the Wind: The Autobiography of Vermont’s Own Daughter and was able to complete the manuscript before her death in 1976.

 

Note

[1]Bailey, Consuelo Northrop. Leaves before the Wind: The Autobiography of Vermont’s Own Daughter. Burlington, Vt.: G. Little, 1976: 166.

Learn more about Consuelo Northrop Bailey

  • Consuelo Northrop Bailey
    Exhibit created by Professor Melanie Gustafson’s students in HST095: American Women’s History.
  • Consuelo Northrop Bailey Papers, Silver Special Collections, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont. Finding aid.
  • Bailey, Consuelo Northrop. Leaves before the Wind: The Autobiography of Vermont’s Own Daughter. Burlington, Vt.: G. Little, 1976.

Contributed by Erin Doyle, Manuscripts and University Archives Assistant

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Sweet and Rich: Maple Pie

When we developed an outline for a series of blog posts on making recipes from Vermont cookbooks, we quickly agreed that we should feature maple recipes in March, and more specifically, we should bake pies to celebrate Pi Day on March 14.

We found an abundance of maple pie recipes in cookbooks dedicated to maple, in community cookbooks, and in cookbooks written by chefs and food writers. One of the oldest, Maple Sugar Cook Book, was published by the Vermont Maple Sugar Exchange in 1888 to promote the use of pure Vermont maple sugar and syrup in everyday cooking. The Maple Exchange ran a contest to gather recipes and selected the best for the small 43-page cookbook. The collection includes 28 pie recipes, mostly fruit pies sweetened with maple sugar. In contrast, the 30 pie recipes in the Vermont Maple Festival’s 2005 Maple Cookbook mostly call for syrup. Maple sugar, despite the hopes of the Maple Exchange members, has become a luxury ingredient that is harder to find.

Handwritten maple pie recipe on the right and a published version on the left.

After eating an outstanding maple pie at the 2003 Vermont History Expo, Special Collections staff member Ingrid Bower asked the baker for the recipe (left). The 2005 Vermont Maple Festival cookbook confirms that the recipe is a winner (right).

We discovered that bakers take different approaches to maple pie. The sweetener might be 100 per cent maple syrup, but it could also be maple sugar or syrup combined with brown sugar. Some recipes require baking, while others use a cooked custard in a prebaked shell. In Real Old-Time Yankee Maple Cooking (1969), Beatrice Vaughan offers a no-bake Maple Chiffon Pie that relies on gelatin to produce a rich dessert. There are pies with nuts, usually walnuts, and without. One of the maple pie recipes in The Common Ground Dessert Cookbook (1998) substitutes finely ground sunflower seeds for nuts. While most recipes call for a white flour crust, the Common Ground maple pies use a whole wheat pastry crust and several recipes called for a crumb bottom crust or a crumb top layer.

Some ingredients were unexpected. A number of recipes add small amounts of vinegar because, as Mapletown’s Vermont Maple Syrup Cookbook explains, “it cuts the sweetness and brings out the maple flavor.” One of the two recipes in Westford’s Treasured Recipes includes oatmeal and coconut, a variation that popped up surprisingly often. An unorthodox frozen Maple Nut Mousse Pie in the Official Vermont Maple Cookbook calls for the typical syrup, eggs, and walnuts but uses a ready-made chocolate cookie pie shell, non-dairy whipped topping and shavings of semi-sweet chocolate.

Librarians Jeff Marshall and Prudence Doherty volunteered to select recipes and bake the pies this month. Here are their sweet reports.

Jeff Marshall: Making a Maple Cream Pie

I’ve been baking pies for a long time—since before I discovered it’s a great way to win friends and influence people—but I’ve never attempted a maple cream pie until last weekend.  There are many variations within the hundreds of Vermont cookbooks so I chose a fairly simple one at random: Minnie Neun’s recipe in Northfield Now and Then: Cookbook (compiled by Betty S. Piper and others for Northfield Community Enterprises, 1970).

Minnie’s recipe uses a cup of milk, not cream, which should be heated up in a double boiler with an equal amount of dark maple syrup (nowadays “dark” is always paired with “robust flavor”).  To help thicken the mixture, a separate mixture of 3 heaping tablespoons of flour, 2 egg yolks, a teaspoon of sugar, and a dash of salt is added to the hot milk & syrup mixture.  The egg mixture, I found, needs some careful mixing to avoid flour lumps.  Once this is cooked to the desired thickness a tablespoon of butter and a dash of black pepper are added, and the mixture is poured into a previously baked shell.

A pie with a meringue crust on a counter.I found the instructions for the meringue topping insufficient for someone who has never made it before, so I looked up a recipe to be sure I was doing it right.  Once topped, the pie goes into the oven at 350o just long enough to brown the meringue peaks.

The result: a very tasty, very mapley pie—“amazing!” as my co-taster remarked.  I found that the filling doesn’t “set” much after it cools off, so my pie turned out just a bit runny.  The black pepper adds a surprising dimension to the flavor that I found pleasing, though it is probably best to use well-ground pepper if you want to avoid that unexpected pepper spike.

A slice of maple pie on a green plate.

Prudence Doherty: Shaker Boiled Cider Pie

I picked the Shaker Boiled Cider Pie recipe from the 2001 edition of Ken Haedrich’s Maple Syrup Cookbook, attracted by his praise for a “rich maple-apple custard with a very thin layer of meringue on top.” After reading Mrs. G. W. Winchester’s recipe for boiled cider pie in the 1888 cookbook mentioned above—”piece of butter size of a walnut, one egg, two crackers, five tablespoons maple sugar, three or four of boiled cider according to strength, little nutmeg”—I was glad to follow the detailed instructions of a modern recipe.

I used boiled cider made in Springfield, Vermont since 1882 by the Woods family. The syrup was graded as dark color with robust taste, described by many as exhibiting caramel undertones. For the crust, I used Haedrich’s Flaky Butter Crust recipe, which includes a small amount of lemon juice and calls for freezing the pastry before filling it with the custard. I appreciated that I only needed to heat the syrup, the cider and two teaspoons of butter until the butter melted—no stirring until thick—and then whisk in the egg yolks and fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.

The pie had a great flavor, sweet and tangy, and we could definitely detect apple from the boiled cider and caramel from the syrup. Sadly, the pie was just too sweet for me. We topped second slices with vanilla ice cream, which helped balance the sweetness. Like Haedrich, we preferred the pie after it had been refrigerated.

Pie with a dark meringue top sitting on a counter.

The recipe includes a helpful note about how dark the top of a boiled cider pie is when baked. This one is perhaps extra dark, because the recommended 40 minutes of baking time proved to be a little long in my oven.

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Baking with Substitute Flours: A Patriotic Sacrifice

When I encountered the 1918 UVM Extension Circular No. 13, “Substitute” Breads, Biscuits and Muffins, I knew I had found the topic for my first post in our year-long Vermont cookbook series. I started substituting whole wheat flour for white when baking bread as a college student in the early 1970s, and over the years have tried many multigrain bread recipes. I was intrigued with Vermont’s responses to the U. S. Food Administration’s wheat conservation efforts during World War I, when wheat (white) flour was needed to feed the troops and starving allies in Europe.

Before Vermont bakers could replace wheat flour in their baked goods, they needed supplies of substitute flours. The August 9, 1918 issue of the Essex County Herald (published in Island Pond, Vermont) included a short article on corn flour, reporting that during the last 18 months, the industry increased its output of corn flour 500 percent to meet the demand by converting wheat-milling machinery into corn-milling machinery.

Newspaper advertisement for Saturday Cash Special's at Leary's Grocery, including cereals, meat, and different kinds of flour.

Source: Burlington Free Press, June 21, 1918

Newspaper advertisement for substitute flours and sugar substitutes for sale at John Dunn's cash stores.

Source: Rutland Daily Herald, September 4, 1918

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vermont grocers ran advertisements in newspapers around the state to let bakers know that substitute flours were available. Dunn’s Cash Store stocked all the wheat flour substitutes as well as sugar substitutes, including maple flavor Karo (corn syrup) and Vermont maple syrup and sugar. Leary’s Grocery at the corner of King and Pine Streets in Burlington offered wheat flour mixed with substitute grains for $0.43 per 5-pound bag and white and yellow corn flour for less at $0.31 per bag. A 24.5-pound bag of barley flour was a bargain at $1.70.

The campaign to conserve wheat included a variety of educational initiatives, including newspaper articles, demonstrations and speaking tours, and wide dissemination of recipes. Bertha M. Terrill, professor of home economics at the University of Vermont and State Director of Home Economics for the U.S. Food Administration, led the educational efforts in Vermont in 1918.

A large number of seated women watch a woman in an apron and baker's hat prepare a recipe using ingredients laid out on a table in front of her. A table of food samples separates the audience from the cook.

Baking without wheat demonstration at the Vermont Milk Chocolate Factory in March 1918.

Terrill and others arranged cooking demonstrations in factories, at club meetings and in the home economics facilities at UVM. In March, the Civics Department of the Klifa Club, UVM Extension and the U. S. Food Administration sponsored a demonstration at the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company in Burlington. Just before closing, Mrs Julia Dimock demonstrated preparation techniques and distributed recipes and samples to nearly 100 young women. On a Saturday in April, Terrill led a demonstration on substitute cereals at UVM’s Morrill Hall. She assured the audience that making substitutions was comparatively easy. She made and then shared muffins, buckwheat bread, gingerbread and even rarebit (hot cheese sauce) on rice cakes to prove that the results could be delicious. A demonstration at Morrill Hall the following week focused on substituting potatoes for cereal grains.

Terrill shared recipes for baking with substitutes through newspapers, a small cookbook, and UVM Extension publications. Acknowledging that “The present emergency brings its increased problems to every housekeeper because of the higher prices and desire to use supplies to the best advantage,” the Home Economics Club at UVM published Some Thrift Recipes under Terrill’s direction. Introducing a section on substitute breads, the club members assure cooks, “The results from the recipes below are as light and fine-grained as wheat breads, have a delicious flavor and are more healthful.” The Silver Special Collections copy of Some Thrift Recipes was originally part of the Bertha M. Terrill Memorial Library, and is signed “Bertha M. Terrill 1917-1918.”

Terrill’s UVM Extension circular, “Substitute” Breads, Biscuits and Muffins, provides many more recipes and more detailed guidance about baking with substitute grains. Terrill explains why wheat and rye are superior for yeast breads and why baking powder is a better leavening agent for substitute grains.  While the recipes include some wheat and substitute flour combinations, Terrill promoted recipes using substitute grains only. The results would be delicious and wholesome, she said, and “give opportunity to be 100% patriotic by using 100 percent wheatless materials.” She acknowledged that the substitute flours cost more than wheat, but reminded Vermonters, “We are asked to regard this as one of the costs of war.”

Four muffins on a white plate.

Corn flour and buckwheat muffins.

I made three of Terrill’s recipes from the Extension circular using corn flour, buckwheat flour, and rolled oats. I had buckwheat flour and rolled oats in my cupboard, but when I could not find corn flour in Burlington-area stores, I ordered it online. I followed Terrill’s advice and stuck to recipes calling for baking powder, choosing buckwheat and corn muffins, corn flour biscuits, and oat and corn flour bread. The muffins had a great flavor and a nice texture and were very hearty. The recipe called for just 1 tablespoon fat and 1 tablespoon sugar or 2 tablespoons of syrup, but the next time I make them (I still have lots of corn flour), I will use a bit more of both. After a day, the leftover muffins were a bit dry, but split and toasted, we agreed with Terrill that they “could hardly be distinguished from freshly baked.” We liked the flavor of the bright yellow corn flour biscuits and the quick bread (four tablespoons of maple syrup), but each had texture problems: the biscuits were dense and the bread crumbled easily.

In my enthusiasm for the substitute grains project, I also purchased white and brown rice flour. I look forward to trying Terrill’s recipes for muffins and quick breads that combine rice flour with rolled oats, buckwheat flour or barley flour.

Submitted by Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian

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Pullin’ in the New Year!

Ingrid Bower continues our cookbook series with a post about making molasses taffy.

December is generally known as a time to gather and celebrate with friends and family. It is a time when even mageirocophobes (those with a fear of cooking) break out the measuring cups and cookie sheets from the depths of their kitchen cabinets to recreate the cookies and candies that their grandmothers used to make. My kitchen is no different.

In pre-COVID years, I have spent hours in the kitchen preparing one to two dozen different types of cookies and candy to share with my wonderful neighbors who generously allow us to run our sled dogs or graze our sheep on their properties. This year was different. I purchased “safe,” boxed chocolates for my neighbors and made only a few batches of cookies for the family. But this tradition of sugary neighborliness did lead me to a subject for our second Vermont cookbooks post.

Handwritten entry on a diary page dated September 5, 1909

Lamson’s Sept. 5, 1909 diary entry describes a very busy Sunday, concluding with “… then we made pulled candy, awfully good.”

The inspiration for the late December experiments in my kitchen came from the diaries of Genieve Lamson that we transcribed as part of our pandemic transcription project. Genieve Amelia Lamson was born in 1887 to Whitcomb E. and Hannah A. Lamson of Randolph, Vermont. She traveled widely and was well educated. She taught at Vassar College among many other career ventures, but eventually returned to her family home where she lived until her death in 1966. Lamson was a prolific diarist, and our Genieve Lamson Papers include her diaries from 1908-1910. The diaries illustrate the relatively carefree, socially active life of a young woman at the turn of the century. She was an avid baker and candy maker and attended many parties, some of which included “candy-pulls.”

My interest was piqued by these candy pulls. As I dug deeper, I found that they were popular party activities in the nineteenth century and had several resurgences in the twentieth century.  In some cases the candy pull was also a courting activity where sweethearts could pair up and get close in a socially acceptable way.

Genieve Lamson attended or hosted several candy pulls for both “white candy” and molasses in 1908 and 1909, so once I decided to make taffy, my search for recipes in our Vermont cookbook collection focused on approximately that time period.  The 1891 Ladies’ Aid Society of the Universalist Parish of Bellows Falls cookbook and the 1902 Crystal Lake Cook Book from the Barton Women’s Literary Club have appealing and seemingly authentic recipes of the time, and so the fun began.

Cook stirs a pot on a stove holding the boiling molasses mixture and a thermometer.

Boiling the molasses mixture to the proper temperature and consistency.

We started with the 1891 recipe, which is basically just a list of ingredients with very brief instructions:  “Two cups molasses, one cup sugar, one tablespoonful vinegar, butter size of walnut; boil twenty minutes, then add one teaspoonful [baking] soda; cool and pull.”  Being uneasy with these minimal directions, we found a modern molasses candy recipe. Using a candy thermometer we were guided to about the correct temperature in those twenty minutes.

Since we had no idea how long we should cool the molten candy we again turned to the modern recipe, which led us astray a bit and we tried to work the candy too soon, causing a portion of it to harden to the sides of the pan like concrete. The salvaged portion cooled properly and as we pulled and folded and pulled over and over again, the color changed from a dull brown to an attractive metallic bronze and the consistency changed from somewhat brittle to soft and taffy-like. We twisted the long cords of candy together and cut them into bite size pieces and then wrapped them in waxed paper to share.  As to taste, reviews were mixed.  I loved it!  But I enjoy the flavor of molasses.  Those who are not molasses fans did not care for this candy.

Family members dispaly pulled taffy.

Pulled taffy!

A week later we tried the 1902 recipe, which calls for much less molasses and provides more detailed instructions. The temperature of this batch rose much more quickly than the last and caught us off guard and we allowed it to get to too high a temperature. We did succeed in cooling it properly, so, though the candy was more brittle than it should have been, the pulling was more successful.  The flavor of this batch was much milder, like a “Werther’s Original,” and was a big hit with all who tasted it.

Cut pieces of pulled taffy on wax paper

Cut pieces of taffy waiting to be sampled and then wrapped in wax paper.

Due to COVID, having a candy pull party was a bit tricky, but, following the Governor’s guidelines, we included a “trusted family” in the creation of our second batch, so that our experience felt somewhat authentic. It was a lot of fun to include this historic aspect of gathering and neighborliness and I hope to continue this tradition for years to come.

 

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Hygge* in My Vermont Kitchen

 Hygge: a Danish word meaning a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality.

For the next year, Silver Special Collections staff will share their adventures cooking with recipes from our Vermont cookbook collection. Sharon Thayer starts the series with this post on her chosen comfort food.

Loaf of homamde bread and bowl of cheese soupNovember. The end of daylight savings time, bare gray tree branches, dropping temperatures, wanting to be warm and cozy. This time of year makes me think of snug domesticity. Especially in the midst of pandemic living–staying home, cooking all of my meals, and reading so many Instagram/Facebook posts documenting the triumphs of our national flirtation with home baking—I turn to comfort food.

Several years ago the Special Collections winter holiday get-together was a potluck lunch of soups and breads at a colleague’s house out in the Vermont countryside (as opposed to the suburban Burlington-area homes for the rest of us). We met at her house on a clear, cold, sunny early January day around noon. The idea was to spend some time outdoors before gathering in the kitchen to share a communal meal. Guests brought four kinds of homemade soup and several freshly made breads, and our host provided a huge green salad and holiday candies and cookies for dessert. It was a fantastic feast of good food and good will.

So when I thought about a blog post on comfort food, soup and bread came to mind. I wanted recipes that were delicious, but simple, not taking too much time and work. I wanted to use Vermont ingredients and products as much as possible. And the recipes had to match my rather limited skill set in the kitchen. After browsing our Vermont cookbook collection, I selected recipes from two modern cookbooks.

cover of New Blueberry Hill Cookbook showing inn and Vermont landscapeFor the soup, I chose a cheddar cheese soup recipe. I considered several, but most had beer or ale as an ingredient, which did not appeal to me. The recipe I made, “Potage de Vermont,” is from Tony Clark’s New Blueberry Hill Cookbook (1990). Laurie Caswell, chef at the Blueberry Hill Inn in Goshen from 1981 to 1982, provided the recipe, which she served as a first course. The soup was wonderful. I used three kinds of Cabot cheddar: Vermont Sharp, New York Extra Sharp, and Seriously Sharp Cheddar. I made minor changes to the recipe, substituting dry dill for fresh and leaving out the toasted sesame seeds garnish. The result was delicious.

For the bread, I wanted a hearty rustic loaf to go with the rather rich soup. In the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion All Purpose Cookbook (2003), I found a basic version of Irish soda bread. The “Irish Dairy Bread” recipe called for buttermilk and baking soda as the leavening agents.

Sadly, the bread was disappointing. I followed the recipe to the letter, but it was too pale coming out of the oven. I baked it a bit longer, but didn’t want to overbake it. Per the recipe, I let it cool completely for the structure to set. I expected a hearty peasant loaf. I got a heavy round that was too pale and hard as a brick – if I had thrown it at someone, I daresay they would have been injured.  Even slathered with Cabot Creamery butter, it was not very appealing. However, the smell of fresh bread in the house was divine.

Although I will draw a veil over the soda bread experience, I added a new comfort food recipe to my collection. I will definitely make “Potage de Vermont” again.

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Racing to Ratify

In July 1920, Vermont had the chance to be the final state to ratify the 19th Amendment and guarantee women the right to vote. Congress passed the amendment in June 1919 and sent it to the states for ratification. By 1920, thirty-five state legislatures had voted to ratify, and only one more vote was needed. Many hoped Vermont would be the thirty-sixth state to ratify the amendment; others thought the Tennessee legislature might act first. Special Collections has two pen and ink drawings by the well-known editorial cartoonist W. Norman Ritchie that capture the tension.

Ritchie imagined “The Ratification Sweepstakes” in an energetic cartoon that ran in the Boston Post on July 9, 1920. A woman sporting a national suffragist badge fires a starter pistol to start the Great Suffrage Ratification Race between Tennessee and Vermont, brandishing a prize cup for the woman vote. Trainer James Cox, the Democratic presidential nominee, urges a runner labeled Tennessee Legislature (Democrats), “Speed up, Colonel, and show your Southern chivalry,” while Warren G. Harding, the Republican presidential nominee, tells a runner labeled  Vermont Legislature (GOP), “Go to it Vermont, you must not fail!”

Vermont did fail, despite the best efforts of the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association, due to the continued opposition of Governor Percival Clement. Clement refused to call a special session of the Vermont legislature for a vote on the 19th Amendment. An extreme strategy involved getting Clement to leave the state so that Lt. Governor Mason Stone, who favored suffrage, could arrange a special session. On July 21, 1920, the Post published Ritiche’s cartoon, “No Vacation for Clement.”

Ritchie’s drawing bears the handwritten title “A steady job for Clement.” The caption for the top panel reads, “If Gov. Clement leaves the state, the suffs may vamp Acting Gov. Stone and win the vote.” Clement heads to the railroad station with a suitcase, while a representative of the “suffs” grabs Lt. Gov. Stone and urges him to call the special session. Ritchie pokes fun at Clement’s dilemma, suggesting that the governor might need to vacation at home “on guard against the wily suffs,” and stay on the job to keep Lt. Gov. Mason from bringing the suffs and ratification to the legislative altar. On the bottom left, Ritchie illustrates a dramatic strategy: the desperate “women scorned” might kidnap Clement!

When it became clear that the final ratification vote was not coming from Vermont, suffragists turned to Tennessee. Thanks to a tie-breaking vote cast by a young legislator following his mother’s advice, Tennessee won the sweepstakes and became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the 19th amendment on August 18, 1920.

W. Norman Ritchie (1867-1947) was a news cartoonist for the Boston Post for over 50 years. Reviewing a 1932 exhibit of newspaper artists, the Boston Globe noted “the skill and imagination, together with a keen sense of humor” that characterized Ritchie’s work. Ritchie drew thousands of news cartoons during his tenure. Silver Special Collections acquired these two drawings, along with others featuring Vermont native Calvin Coolidge, in 1973.

Find more primary sources about Vermonters’ efforts to obtain voting rights for women in our latest digital collection, Women’s Suffrage in Vermont. With contributions from the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration, the Leahy Library at the Vermont Historical Society, and Silver Special Collections, the collection focuses on the period from 1870 to 1920.

Contributed by Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian

 

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Traveling with Caroline Crane Marsh

Although our transcription team has been working from home, they simultaneously have been traveling in Italy with Caroline Crane Marsh. Team members Ingrid Bower, Chris Burns, Erin Doyle, Hannah Johnson and Sharon Thayer are transcribing the diaries Caroline kept from 1861 to 1865 that reveal her enthusiasm for travel and adventure and her talent for vivid description. Following Caroline, the team has made virtual visits to the Piazza di Castello and the Casa d’Angennes in Turin, numerous Alpine peaks, a coastal village near Genoa, and an eleventh-century tower in Piobesi. This post pairs diary entries with images of just some of the places where the Marshes lived or visited during this period.

The Piazza di Castello, with pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages, surrounded by buildings, including the Baroque Palazzo Reale and the Palazzo Madama.

The Piazza di Castello, circa 1842. The Palazzo Reale is in the center, and the Palazzo Madama is on the right. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The Marshes arrived in Turin in 1861, when George Perkins Marsh assumed his position as the first American minister to the newly united kingdom of Italy. Shortly after they arrived in early June, Mrs. Marsh wrote, “Our rooms are large and finely situated, being three front rooms in the Hotel de l’Europe, overlooking the principal square of the town and directly opposite the Royal Palace.” From their balcony, she noted, “We watch every movement in the fine piazza before us with all the interest that novelty and the prospect of a prolonged stay here would naturally excite.” In July, Caroline described a concert honoring a Swedish diplomat, when a vast crowd gathered in the Piazza di Castello.  Mr M.,” she wrote, “thought that ten thousand did the numbers half justice.”

Street view of the Casa d'Angennes.

Casa d’Angennes. Source: Museo Torino.

The Marshes left the hotel for an apartment in the seventeenth-century Casa d’ Angennes. They stayed until the end of 1861, when a large rent increase drove them to find lodging elsewhere. By November 1863, they had found a way to return to the Casa D’Angennes and Mrs. Marsh noted with satisfaction, “And here we are again after fifteen months once more in our fine Italian home.”

Monte Rosa and neighboring Alpine mountains.

Monte Rosa. Source: Library of Congress.

On Oct. 7, 1862, the Marshes climbed in the nearby Alps. Caroline’s diary entry for the day is typically evocative.  She wrote, “Well were we repaid for the labour it had cost us. There stood Monte Rosa with all her eight spitzen, a most magnificent mountain-mass.” She continued, “Glorious as the mountains were, however, beautiful as the lakes at our feet … we could not help turning from these to gaze on the wonderful cloud-phenomena which presented themselves around and below us …. For two or three hours we watched, now the mighty chain of the Alps based on their everlasting foundations, and now the ever-shifting clouds that sometimes seemed a phantom-ocean heaving and surging below us, sometimes pillars of fire rising to a height that dwarfed the loftiest summit of the true mountains.”

The village of Pegli on the Mediterranean.

The village of Pegli on the Mediterranean coast, between 1890-1900. Source: Library of Congress.

The Marshes spent the winter of 1862-63 in the quiet coastal village of Pegli, near Genoa, where they took up residence in a hotel. Mr. Marsh worked in Turin during the week and on weekends returned to Pegli, where he forged ahead on “his most momentous work,” Man and Nature.

Chinese pagoda , pond and bridge in the Pallavicini gardens.

The Chinese pagoda in the Pallavincini Gardens.

In a diary entry for November 7, 1862, Mrs. Marsh described a visit to Pegli’s beautiful Pallavicini Gardens, which she called “the chief wonder of the neighborhood.” The gardens, she wrote, were “… luxuriantly planted, and provided with walks, seats, rustic cabins, thatched sheds, marble temples, arches, imitations of old castles, Turkish kiosks, specimens of Greek, Egyptian, Chinese and Persian architecture, water falls, precipices, bridges—in short everything wealth and fancy can contrive.”

The four-story Castello di Piobesi next to a tower dating to the 11th century

Castello di Piobesi.

The Marshes spent the summer of 1863 in Piobesi at the Castello di Piobesi, located about twelve miles southwest of Turin,  providing Mr. Marsh with a much shorter commute and a quiet setting to finish Man and Nature. Most of the castello dates to about 1830, but one tower remains to mark the site of a structure built in the eleventh century.

On April 5, Caroline wrote a diary entry after they ascended the old tower. She made it about halfway up, where from a seat in a window she could rest and look at a landscape “so sweet and quiet, the Alps so majestically grand, the sky so clear and blue, that I gave myself up at once to the mighty influence that nature is sometimes able to exert upon us…”

 

 

Note: The Caroline Crane Marsh diaries are part of the George Perkins Marsh Collection. They will be available online in the near future.

Submitted by Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian

 

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Billings Library: A Most Delightful Place for Dancing

Front cover of the 1907 UVM Senior Prom dance card showing exterior view of Billings Library.For over forty years, Commencement Week activities at the University of Vermont included what a 1912 headline called a “brilliant commencement function.” From 1894 to 1936, the evening of Class Day ended with a senior reception followed by a senior promenade. The reception and prom were held in Billings Library, “a most delightful place for dancing.”

A student committee organized the annual event. Guests included students, faculty, alumni returning for reunion, and for some years, “the young society people of the city.” Newspapers routinely reported that 200-400 people came to the reception and the dance. In 1936, nearly 1,000 people came through the doors.

Vermont orchestras and dance bands provided the music, although a Boston band provided the entertainment on at least one occasion. One year, a musician from Montreal performed a notable xylophone solo during a dance number. While waltzes remained a staple, some dances changed with the times. For example, old fashioned quadrilles lost favor to new dances like the foxtrot.

For one night during Commencement Week, Billings Library was transformed for the Senior Prom. One writer noted, “In its vacation garb, the library did not much resemble its appearance during the college year.” Tables on the main floor and in the apse were moved out to make room for the reception, the band and the crowds. A large platform was set up inside the entrance for the band, and the floors were waxed “to perfection.” The rooms were decorated in the college colors, and potted palms and cut flowers added to the atmosphere. In short, as the Burlington Free Press reported in 1936, “endless rows of books, dusty rafters, and furrowed brows were replaced in a flurry of gay-colored dresses and happy faces.”

1936 reception in Billings Library with receiving line in front of the fireplace and an orchestra

In 1935, the receiving line in front of the fireplace included President Guy Bailey, Dean and Mrs. Hills, Dean and Mrs. Eckhard, and student representatives. Sid Carsley and his 12-piece orchestra provided the music. Photo from the 1936 Ariel.

Senior prom dancers fill the north hall of Billings Library

Only alumni, faculty and members of the senior class were admitted to the prom in 1935 due to the limited dancing space. Photo from the 1936 Ariel.

Dance cards with decorative covers served as souvenirs of what was for seniors one of the final social events of their college years. On the pages inside, dance partners signed up for one of the evening’s twenty dances, sometimes using a small pencil attached to the card with a cord. The dance order below on the right is from 1894, and includes several deux temps and waltzes, a polka, two types of square dances (quadrille and lanciers). Two names on the line next to the polka suggest that a second partner cut in before the dance ended.

Blue front cover of dance card from the 1899 UVM Senior Prom, with a small white pencil attached by a white cord.Dance orders for 1897 UVM Senior Prom.

The well-attended 1936 gala was the last prom held in Billings Library. In 1937, the tradition ended when the senior reception and prom moved to the newly completed Southwick Memorial Hall on the Redstone Campus.

Submitted by Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian

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Twisting the Night Away

Beginning in the summer of 2019, Special Collections worked with the Department of Theatre and Dance to plan an outreach program for this semester that included an exhibit, a lecture, a panel discussion, and a student performance. This is the blog post we planned in conjunction with the April events, now canceled.

In 1962, the dance craze the twist was sweeping the nation. Chubby Checker’s song “The Twist” is credited with starting the trend. It enjoyed two waves of popularity, reaching number one on the Billboard weekly chart in September 1960 and January 1962, when it was re-released. On the annual chart, it peaked at number nine. Other twist classics that enjoyed popular and commercial success that year included Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away” at number 23, “The Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee and the Starlighters at number 25, and The Isley Brothers classic “Twist and Shout” at number 38.

At UVM, students were twisting at the height of the craze. The Student Association’s Pep Committee sponsored a dance on Saturday, February 17, 1962. Scheduled for 9:30 to midnight, after a men’s basketball game against the University of Massachusetts, it’s not surprising that a handful of star athletes attended. With live music provided by the Craters, a twist-a-thon took place, documented in a set of photographs taken by Andrew Bush. The dance was one of the last events held in the gymnasium (now Royall Tyler Theatre) before Patrick Gym opened in 1963. It must have taken a lot of quick work to transform the gym after the game with crepe paper streamers and dance wax on the floor.

Photograph of a male and female student dancing a crowd of other students.

Benny Becton ’63 (center), star basketball player and future UVM Athletic Hall of Fame member, and his dance partner twist in the men’s gym.

Photograph of a male and female student walking in the gym while smiling and snapping their fingers. Other students dance in the background.

Football star Frank Bolden ‘63 (left) at the 1962 dance. Bolden was inducted into the UVM Athletic Hall of Fame, chaired UVM’s Board of Trustees and received an honorary degree from the university in 2018.

In some ways, the loosened up movements and close contact that characterize the twist mirrored changes in society. Not everyone was a fan.

Famed dancer Ginger Rogers objected to the twist, calling it “ungraceful,” “vulgar,” and “obscene” in this AP story printed in the Burlington Free Press on January 3, 1962.

Newspaper article detailing Rogers's objections to the twist. There was a clear generational divide, with youngsters in favor of this newest fad and their parents full of concern (Rutland Daily Herald, January 25, 1962).

A letter to the editor by "High School Student" that concludes "I will stand my ground in regard to this question that all parents ask today [should the twist be censored?]. 'The Twist' is 'OUR DANCE'. We want it, and we don't want everyone condemning it! Let us enjoy 'The Twist' as our parents enjoyed the Charleston."Still, a few schools in Vermont banned the dance for moral or religious reasons and in quite strong terms. The first was imposed by Marian High School (Brattleboro Reformer, January 23, 1962). St. Anne’s Academy of Swanton took action soon after (Brattleboro Reformer, January 30, 1962).

Newspaper article titled "Barre School Bars Twist" explains that St. Monica's Church "said in its weekly bulletin that the Twist will not be tolerated because it is 'synthetic sex' turned into a sick spectator sport."

Newspaper article announcing that St. Anne's Academy banned the dance, describing it as "a most repulsive and horrible sight to behold" and "very improper for any Christian."

 

 

Twisting brought out warnings for potential back and foot injuries among adults (Brattleboro Reformer, January 24, 1962). But other sources promoted twisting for exercise (Bennington Banner, January 13, 1962).

Newspaper article that contains advice from the Massachusetts Podiatry Society warning that the Twist can "result in bursitis problems and heel inflammations."

Newspaper article that details a meeting of a women's club in Stowe in which a ski instructor demonstrated and recommended twisting for agility training. Attendees were over age 40, including one octogenarian.

 

 

With these widely varying viewpoints, it’s no wonder the subject of twisting popped up in advice columns (Burlington Free Press, May 19, 1962).

Newspaper column in which 15-year-old Patty asks for advice about holding a twist party for her friends while her mother thinks it a "vulgar dance" and "doesn't want to have people believe that she approves of it." The reply lists other past dance fads that were more suggestive including dancing cheek-to-cheek, The Charleston, jitterbug, and Big Apple, which the author describes as "fun."The twist was such a cultural phenomenon that it didn’t take long for twisting to be referenced in the funny papers, like this “Archie” comic that also seems to predict iPods (Burlington Free Press, August 27, 1962).

Comic strip in which a mother and father discuss a group of teenagers having a twist party in their driveway. The father says they look like they are killing ants. The mother replies that he said he didn't want the rugs worn out. The father then says that he doesn't want the neighbors to complain and the mother replies that the neighbors can't hear anything because the kids all have transistors and are listening with earphones.

Contributed by Erin Doyle, Manuscripts and University Archives Assistant

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