I’ve mentioned before that I can’t remember not knowing how to read. I learned to read quite young, and I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t name each letter of the alphabet on the page. And as far back as I can remember, I knew the letters were put together to form words, though I certainly have increased my vocabulary over the years.
But I have proof positive that I had to learn to write.
I have my mother’s old Betty Crocker’s Good and Easy Cook Book, 1954 edition, which I think she received as a wedding present in 1955. She gave it to me about the time I got married.
Or maybe she gave it to my husband, knowing that he is the more ambitious cook in our household. He still uses the pie crust recipe she pointed out to him in this book. So does my daughter.
As I have confessed before, I don’t make pie crusts. I buy them.
The index of my mother’s old cook book is covered in pencil scribbles. My pencil scribbles, circa 1958.
Sometime during my toddler-hood, I decided I should write like Mommy and Daddy did. So I found the nearest pencil and the nearest paper—this cook book. And while my mother was otherwise occupied, I wrote.
I remember the incident vaguely. I think my mother was on the phone when I began my writing career. I knew as I was scribbling in the cook book that I was being naughty. My mother was a little disgusted with me when she discovered my transgression, though I don’t recall her getting too angry (and she could get angry).
I have wondered ever since I discovered the magic of erasers why she didn’t erase my pencil marks, but she preserved them for posterity. Perhaps out of affection for a daughter who wanted to write. Perhaps to preserve the evidence of my wrongdoing. Perhaps simply because she had too many other things to do.
As you can see, the cook book survived my indiscretion and is still in use. It is surprisingly clean, other than my pencil scratchings. But the spine is held together with tape now. Some of the spiral pages are torn loose, kept in place only by the good faith of those who open the slim volume.
Which is how all good cook books should look after almost sixty years in the kitchen.
What old objects in your home still have their usefulness?