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From the Kitchen Drawer and Cupboard: Manufacturers’ Recipe and Advertisement Booklets

From the Kitchen Drawer and Cupboard:

A Phantasmagoria

of Manufacturers’ Recipe and Advertisement Booklets 1902 – 1950

Noon to 1:00 April 7

From the Jerred Metz collection, an exhibit of Covers, Pictures, Themes, Advertising, and Recipes

Pineapple Recipes

Pineapple Recipes

Pineapple Recipes

Pineapple Recipes

Selection on display at the Barrow Room, Irwin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Thomas Cooper Library

A talk by Jerred Metz introducing the collection. Please come for a fascinating, nostalgic, humorous, and insightful event. Feast your eyes, but not your stomach, on the sumptuous  food products and the way these companies and their booklets promoted it.

 

Words in Praise of “Butter in a Jar: Days in the Life of Iola Thomas”

I want to share with you comments on Butter in a Jar: Days in the Life of Iola Thomas. Butter-In-a-Jar-Cover-658x1024

Jerred Metz’s narrative of an African-American newlywed and business genius making her way through the trickster-laden world of early 20th century Georgia addresses the subtle dangers of that ‘almost slavery’ era with delightful ironic humor. Metz’s sense of vernacular diction and rhythm is masterful: a plain-speak so convincing you can’t tell where the irony begins or ends: you just understand it’s necessary for the survival of this admirably gutsy protagonist and her marriage, a sort of linguistic underground railroad to her happiness, delightfully sneaky and hilariously true. Iola is a timeless heroine, yet also very much of her time, and so authentically Southern you can practically taste the moonshine burning down your throat, the watermelon juices dripping from your chin. In this highly entertaining narrative sequence, you can hear the music of Iola’s voice as clearly as a store-bell, but you still long to hear the whole thing spoken by Iola herself: to meet her in person. Iola’s truths are hidden from the characters who would exploit and cheat her, but offered in glorious confessional technicolor for the reader’s pleasure and enlightenment, and the resulting dramatic irony is delicious. There’s little figuration here to stand in the way of the protagonist’s voice, which carries each poem, and drips with delicious detail like fat from one of Iola’s barbeque hogs. As Iola says: ‘You talk about something good!’

These are the comments of a poet who teaches creative writing at the University of South Carolina, Nicola Waldron. If I hadn’t written the book, but read these comments I would want to read it. You can, too. Available from Amazon. I also have copies I would be happy to sign and send to you.

A New Book of Poems

Butter-In-a-Jar-Cover-658x1024

My book of poems, Butter in a Jar: Days in the Life of Iola Thomas has just been published. In its twenty-six narrative poems in the voice of Iola Thomas she tells the story of her family’s fall from prosperity to share-crop farming and there escape—“it was near slavery”—to St. Louis two years later. I have copies that I will happily sign. The book is also available on Amazon.

 

A Brief Change of Subject

For about thirty years I have been collecting Manufacturers’ Recipe and Advertisement Cookbook Pamphlets at antique malls from St. Louis to Baltimore and Columbia to St. Louis when we moved here. Last December I donated the collection of 600 of them to the Irwin Rare Books Library at the Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina. I am now not only the donor, but the curator of the collection.

Pineapple Recipes

Pineapple Recipes

For about thirty years I have been collecting Manufacturers’ Recipe and Advertisement Cookbook Pamphlets at antique malls from St. Louis to Baltimore and Columbia to St. Louis when we moved here. Last December I donated the collection of 600 of them to the Irwin Rare Books Library at the Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina. I am now not only the donor, but the curator of the collection. It is called the Jerred Metz Manufacturers’ Recipe and Advertisement Cookbook Pamphlets Collection.

Library staff are scanning all the covers and contents I have designated—text and illustrations. There what is called a metadata base being developed. This will take at least a year to finish. I will occasionally write about the collection. There will be scholars and students attracted to it, and I might do some teaching about the industrialization of food in America.

I will lecture on the collection next spring at the library. There will be an exhibit of some of the booklets. I don’t yet know the date, but I will notify people when the date is set. It should be worth a trip to Columbia.

Many years ago I wrote about some of the items. When I finish writing The Crowning Battle of the Great War and the next novel, a comic novel about Gracie Allen’s run for the presidency in 1940, I will devote my writing and research to the collection.

If you have any of these recipe pamphlets I would like to know about them. People are welcome to add to the collection. I would need to see them first, since I want to add only items that are not already in it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dole_Food_Company

Sometimes even the smallest piece of information

Chaplain, Captain Arthur Ivan Foster, 117th Infantry, 59th Infantry Brigade, 30th Division.

Chaplain, Captain Arthur Ivan Foster, 117th Infantry, 59th Infantry Brigade, 30th Division.

Sometimes even the smallest piece of information is important for a book. An example: I thought it useful to know, if not report, the day of the week the pivotal events of the Battle of Bellicourt Tunnel took place on. Who helped me find it? Google. The question I typed was September, 29, 1918 – What day of the week is… Before I typed any more words it took me to: Qpzmdayoftheweek.qpzm.com/whatdayoftheweek/september/29/1918

 Since it was a Sunday it gave me a chance to have one of the characters I am already developing, a chaplain for the 30th Division, offer prayers and deliver a short sermon, and reflect himself on the importance of this battle that was to take place on this Sunday morning.

I will not use this particular chaplain as my character. I present him as a typical representative of 30th Division chaplains. http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/224075-wwi-chaplain-arthur-i-foster-117th-inf-59-inf-brig-30th-div/

I surprise myself with the questions I come up with and to which books and the internet have the answers.

 

Lieutenant Maurice Dease Honored

I was either insightful or lucky when I picked Lieutenant Maurice Dease to be the most important infantry solider in The Angel of Mons: A World War I Legend. My early research and my knowledge of what a novel needs led me to the conclusion that Dease would be a fine choice for a major character.

This was confirmed over the years. In 2014 I was in Mons for commemorative events around the Battle of Mons. The night of the 24th Sarah and I attended a sound and light show that had been funded by the City of Mons and the province of Hainaut ($500,000) that had been shown since August 4, the date war had been declared. The narrative was in French, so I was especially attuned to the few words in English. Surprisingly, the name Dease was one of the few. (Others were Arthur Machen and Phyllis Campbell, who also are characters in the novel. There were no others, except a few major officers.)

Lieutenant Maurice Dease: A major character in the novel

Lieutenant Maurice Dease: A major character in the novel

A recent article in The Irish News tells the story of Dease again, this time to note a Victoria Cross Paving Stone being unveiled. See it on line or read the article here:

1 BRAVERY: Maurice Dease, who was killed in the Battle of Mons in August 1914

In the late summer of 1914 in Coole, Co Westmeath, the family of Lieutenant Maurice Dease received three telegrams from the British War Office in quick succession.

The first told them Maurice was wounded, the second that he was missing and the third that he was dead.

What the telegrams did not reveal was the extraordinary courage of Maurice Dease that led him to be awarded the first Victoria Cross of the Great War.

Next Tuesday, exactly 102 years after he died at the Battle of Mons, Lt Dease will be remembered in Coole in the country churchyard that stands on a plateau over the Bog of Allen and where his family worshipped for generations.

A Victoria Cross Paving Stone, similar to those in Glasnevin Cemetery, and a small VC cross will be unveiled at an existing cross which was erected by the Dease family after Maurice was killed in 1914.

On August 23, 1914, Maurice Dease was serving with the British Expeditionary Force in Belgium and in charge of a machine-gun section of the 4th battalion of the Royal Fusiliers.

It was the first day of combat and the unit was told to hold a railway bridge over the Mons-Conde Canal at Nimy, outside the town of Mons.

Dease manned a machine gun with a clear line of fire across the canal.

Another gun covered the entrance to the bridge but the British forces were hopelessly outnumbered.

One of the two machine guns jammed. Dease ran through enemy fire to try to fix the gun and was hit in the knee.

He succeeded in fixing the gun and managed to make it back to his post but was hit again in the calf and neck. He continued to man the machine gun until he died.

The citation for his Victoria Cross reads: “Though two or three times badly wounded, he continued to control the fire of his machine guns at Mons on 23rd August until all his men were shot. He died of his wounds.”

Private Sidney Godley, who was wounded and taken prisoner by the Germans, was also awarded a Victoria Cross for his bravery at Mons.

His citation read: “For coolness and gallantry in fighting his machine gun under a hot fire for two hours after he had been wounded at Mons.”

The ceremony on Tuesday has been organised by the Midlands Branch Royal British Legion and the Dease family.

Sunday Independent

Today Fulfilled a Great Wish.

Sarah, Jerred, Mons friends Rosaline Debake and Christian Massy.

Sarah, Jerred, Mons friends Rosaline Debake and Christian Massy.

Today fulfilled a great wish. Since last August, when the new Mons Memorial Museum opened, I had hoped to present a program about my novel, The Angel of Mons: A World War I Legend. Realizing that many if not all of the people attending knew the legend, I took the approach of presenting the novelist’s problem of converting the legend into a novel. As it turned out, this was the ideal way to share something new with the audience.

This was my fourth visit to Mons. Now we have several friends who we enjoy seeing each time we come. Christian Massy is a professional guide who set aside all four days of our visit to take us to places not on the usual tourist agenda. Since I don’t want to turn this into a “here is what we did on our summer vacation” I will be happy to tell anyone who asks.

Me and Angel of Mons expert Marie Cappart, who came from Brussels to hear my presentation. We had a fine time sharing our insights.

Me and Angel of Mons expert Marie Cappart, who came from Brussels to hear my presentation. We had a fine time sharing our insights.

We plan to return to Mons in November, 2018 to commemorate the end of World War I. Mons has the motto Mons: The first. . .the last.” The idea is that the first British soldier who was killed in World War I was killed in Mons. The last British soldier killed in World War I was shot in Mons. The two soldiers are buried at Saint-Symphorien Military Cemetery, their gravestones facing one another. Standing between them, I am reminded that between the first and the last, ten million soldiers died. Sobering and moving. The folly of man.

Maybe we will get some of you to join us for the ceremonies.

One Million Horses and Mules in World War I

One million horses and mules were sent to France and Belgium in the First

Horses in World War I

Horses in World War I

World War. Sixty thousand returned home. Such numbers amaze me. Then I think of the quantity of feed the horses needed, the  leather for harness and saddles. Consider the amount of horse manure. All the armies had a multitude of veterinarians and blacksmiths. Many farmers, job masters, and companies had horses, wagons, and carts requisitioned during the war. By all sides. The British and French paid for what they took. The Germans gave certificates that said the Kaiser would pay them when Germany won the war. A good trick.

The 1916 Documentary: The Battle of the Somme

British soldier carrying a wounded comrade, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916.

British soldier carrying a wounded comrade, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916.

While I am not writing about the 1916 Battle of the Somme, one of the fiercest battles of the war, I can’t help bumping up against material about it, and, truly, about a good deal that does not have to do with The Battle of Bellicourt Tunnel which is the subject of the book. As you have seen already, the blogs travel into elements of the war and warfare that are not part of battles. HOWEVER, this is the one hundredth anniversary of the filming of the 1916 documentary, The Battle of the Somme. It is an amazing feat of filmmaking. This is considered the most important documentary of the war. At the Imperial War Museum in London the 75 minute film is shown almost constantly. It has its own screen and seating area. I watched it when I was there last year. This year I will buy a copy. There is another contemporary documentary about the documentary’s making. I will buy that one, too. Soon after we get home in August we will have a showing of the two at our house. They won’t be on the same evening. Look forward. I see that Amazon has a 47 minute version that can be downloaded. Those of you with Prime can see it for free.

An illustration: a French private aids his captain

The thoroughly modernistic illustration uses straight lines to show the shell and shrapnel fragments flying in all directions.

A thoroughly modernistic French illustration: A private helps his captain

A thoroughly modernistic French illustration: A private helps his captain

Bombs themselves are yellow circles. Such a modern rendition is uncharacteristic of the styles of illustration we expect for that time in history. Artists always surprise us. The message of the piece is the fraternal connection between the ranks in war.

What do you take the green to be?