Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving Dinner: 1900-1950

by Erin Doane, Curator
By now, just three days before Thanksgiving, most people have already planned out their feast. But, if you are among those who are still looking for menu ideas, why not look back to the first half of the 1900s for inspiration? I was curious about how Thanksgiving dinners changed over the years, so I searched through the Elmira Star-Gazette from 1900 through 1950. It turns out that the menus are not all that different from what we eat on the holiday today. After all, a traditional dinner is traditional for a reason. Yet, it was interesting to see how the meals changed during hard times like the Great Depression and both World Wars.
Elaborate dinners have long been a Thanksgiving tradition.
Star-Gazette, November 11, 1908
There were a few dishes that were staples of Thanksgiving dinners over the full span of the 50 years. Nearly every single menu I found had turkey as its centerpiece, which was not a surprise at all. It was, however, sometimes replaced by other meats (particularly during the Great Depression). Almost all the menus also included pumpkin pie. Again, no surprise there. I was a little surprised to see how common oysters were as part of the meal, and delighted to find whole celery (a product of Horseheads in the early 1900s) was also quite popular.

Cranberries were also part of the vast majority of menus I found. There was cranberry sauce, cranberry jelly, cranberry sherbet, cranberry pudding, cranberry pie, or some other cranberry dish on nearly every table in homes and in restaurants for Thanksgiving dinner. Many newspaper articles included new ways to cook cranberries. Click here to find a collection of some of those recipes. But, in 1917, just seven months into the United States involvement in World War I, cranberry sauce was declared taboo on the Thanksgiving menu. There was a sugar shortage because of the war, so the New York Food Conservation Commission discourage people from serving cranberry sauce at their dinners.

Wartime shortages were common again during World War II. In 1943, articles reminded people that despite having to trim their feasts, there were still plenty of traditional dishes that could be made with slight modifications. Stuffing could be made with margarine instead of butter and sweet potatoes could be cooked with molasses rather than sugar. And don’t forget the green tomato pickles made from your own Victory Garden! Just after the end of the war, articles continued to urge people to be respectful of what food they had and not waste a single bite. They also provided a grand array of recipes for leftover turkey.

Use your leftover turkey in a casserole, in a biscuit roll, in a salad,
or in another dish listed in the Star-Gazette on November 24, 1947.
The Great Depression seemed to have had the greatest effect on the holiday menu. During that time, the specific foods served at Thanksgiving dinner took a backseat to the overarching tradition of families getting together for a hearty feast. The dishes at the feast had to be modified, sometimes significantly, because of financial situations. Even turkey had to be given up by many as a luxury. It was replaced by pork, chicken, or beef.

In 1932, an article described a series of menus with price points from $4.50 (about $85 today) to $0.75 (about $14 today) for a family of six. The top-end menu included mushroom or tomato soup, toast sticks, celery, roasted turkey with corn stuffing, giblet gravy, spiced peach relish, mashed white potatoes, onions with nut stuffing, glazed squash, whole wheat and white bread, rosy apple salad, pumpkin ginger pie or pumpkin custard for children. The least expensive menu was a pot roast of beef cooked with apricots, baked potatoes, creamed onions, and squash pie.

Despite the financial troubles of the time, the Community Coffee
 Shop offered an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner with the choice of
eight different entrées and multiple sides and desserts in 1932.
Star-Gazette, November 22, 1932
A Thanksgiving tradition that I’m sure we’re all familiar with popped up at the end of the 1932 article with the various menus – the kids’ table. Miss B. Dorothy Williams, an agent of the Chemung County Home Bureau, stated that, “undoubtedly the children will enjoy the meal more if they have a separate table then their conversation can proceed without interruption and both groups will have a better time.”

Another Thanksgiving tradition that many of us still honor today is a full day of eating, rather than just one large sit-down dinner. It seems that as soon as all the dishes are put away after the initial feast and the kitchen is cleaned up, someone starts taking leftovers out of the fridge for round two. If you would like to add a little more structure to your all-day feasting, here are a couple of menus for Thanksgiving breakfast, dinner, and supper you might enjoy.

Try this all-day Thanksgiving menu from the Star-Gazette on October 18, 1912.
Or this all-day menu from the November 24, 1936 Star-Gazette.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Full Steam Ahead!

By Susan Zehnder, Education Director

It’s not about trains, planes or automobiles but all about increasing access and offering opportunities. This Wednesday, November 20th, Community Arts of Elmira along with nine other co-hosts, is having a STEAM Ahead Chemung reception from 3:30 pm -5:00 pm and all are invited. The event will showcase work created by local students from three area youth centers, along with seven cultural institutions and providers. 

 STEAM Ahead Chemung is a program designed to connect students with cultural opportunities, and was inspired by a summer program called Circle of Fire offered by the Rockwell Museum and four other institutions. However, what makes STEAM different is the educational focus, time of year it happens, institutions and providers involved, and the kinds of students who participate.

Instead of happening during the summer, STEAM Ahead Chemung takes place in the afternoons during the school year. The institutions or providers who participate make up the traditional definition of ‘STEAM’ in education. That means we have providers who offer science, technology, engineering, and art-focused programs. Although one switch we’ve made is, instead of the expected math for ‘m,’ we’ve substituted movement and included a yoga instructor.

A busy youth center

Students in our program come from three specific afterschool youth centers. Many have not had opportunities to visit some of our local cultural institutions. Often adults in their lives don’t have the time and or money to visit museums or participate in special activities. One founding goal for STEAM Ahead Chemung is to not only increase access by inviting students in the door, but to hand them the “key” to come back. That key might be finding out what that institution is all about, or how they might fit in. It might include modeling how to act and what to expect when visiting. Hard data shows that if people don’t visit museums as children, they’re less likely to even think about visiting as adults.

STEAM Ahead Chemung is now three years old. Each year it has been generously funded and supported by a grant from the Triangle Fund. While not a large program, it is mighty. Most of the original institutions/providers have continued and each year we’ve been able to adjust things to make a stronger student experience. For example, last year, STEAM visits happened in January and February and we found that weather became an issue, interrupting plans and schedules. This year STEAM visits started in the fall and the number of students participating has grown.

STEAM planning actually starts months before any visits happen. Each year the seven providers get together and agree on an overall theme. The theme acts like glue to connect the students’ experiences as they have different educators visit them or they visit different institutions. This year motion was our chosen theme. 

What does motion look like through the lens of different institutions? At the Arnot Art Museum, one of our partners, the students started by looking at the Crafting Identity exhibit, featuring art which highlights figures in motion. Students then imagined what happened before and after each image, and tried to unpack what stories the artist may be trying to tell. Students learned some of the ways motion can be expressed in two-dimensional artwork, then created their own work, incorporating their favorite form of movement like dancing, swimming, running, etc.

Motion for another provider was very different. Science & Discovery presented ideas about projectiles, and together the students built catapults.

Here at the Chemung Valley History Museum, we had a two-part program. For the first part we visited each youth center, and the second part had the students visiting the museum. For both we used the museum's current exhibit Getting Around: Transportation in Chemung County as inspiration. 

Getting Around: Transportation in Chemung County, a CCHS exhibit up til spring 2020

At the youth centers, we talked about the area's early aviation history. The students created their own paper airplanes, and then tested their skills measuring the distance each plane flew.
Future plane designer

During their visit to the museum, students toured the transportation exhibit, then created simple paper cars using cardboard, tape, pencils, rubber bands and a little tubing. And yes, they really moved.

Paper car

Curious to see more? We hope so.

Enthusiastic STEAMers!

To learn more about this program, and to see additional photos, including a few test flight videos follow @MarktheMammoth on Instagram and check out the STEAM Ahead Chemung facebook page. Wednesday's November 20th reception takes place from 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm at Community Arts of Elmira 413 Lake Street.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Zonta Club of Elmira at 100 Years

Zonta International is celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2019. The Zonta Club of Elmira was one of the organization’s first clubs established in 1919. For the last hundred years, the club has served our local community, sponsoring activities for children, awarding scholarships, and working with other charitable organizations.

Zonta Conference at the Mark Twain Hotel, 1959
Photo courtesy of Elmira Zonta
On November 8, 1919, the Confederation of Zonta Clubs was founded in Buffalo, New York. Representatives from Elmira were there for the creation of the first five clubs. The Zonta Club of Elmira was made up of women who had been members of the Elmira Business Women’s Club and it had 18 charter members. Zonta was created as a club for professional and executive business women. Membership was based on business classification, similar to men’s clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis, with two women per job description being allowed in the club. Zonta International’s job book lists more than 11,000 classifications.

Elmira/Southport Cinderella softball team sponsored by Zonta
Photo courtesy of Elmira Zonta
From the very beginning, the local Zonta Club has lived up to the code: “To honor my work and to consider it an opportunity for service.” In the same year it was founded, the club hosted a Christmas party at the Home for the Aged. In the 1920s, it became involved in Near East and European Relief Funds and hosted a celebration for the wives, daughters, sisters, and children of immigrants who had become naturalized citizens.

Zonta has supported legislation concerning the welfare of women and children through the years and has held “baby showers” to collect items to support the Southern Tier Pregnancy Resource Center.

The club also awards scholarships to Chemung County students who are planning to attend college or graduate school during the following year. The student’s record of community service is one of the most important factors in deciding who will receive the scholarships.

Zonta Club bicentennial parade float, 1976
Photo courtesy of Elmira Zonta
In 1965, Elmira’s Zonta Club announced its intention to establish a boarding house for retired members who were in need of decent, inexpensive housing. Three years later, it purchased the building at 742 W. First Street, which had previously operated as a nursing home. By the time the Zonta House officially opened in 1972, new subsidized apartments had reduced the need for housing, but it served as the headquarters for the club. Elmira’s Zonta House is the only one of its kind in the United States. The club continues to use the house for weekly meetings and monthly public lectures. The club also runs the Ida V. Shop on the property.

The Zonta House, 742 w. First Street, Elmira
Photo courtesy of Elmira Zonta

Learn more about the Zonta Club of Elmira at their website and on their Facebook page.  

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Extraordinary Life of Dr. Regina Flood Keyes Roberts

by Erin Doane, Curator

Regina Flood Keyes was born in Elmira on April 18, 1870. At that time, few people would have guessed that her life would include time as a field surgeon in war-torn Europe and as a humanitarian worker in Fiji and Samoa. And it is highly unlikely that anyone would have predicted that she would die at sea during a prisoner exchange with Japan.

Dr. Regina Flood Keyes, 1917
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Regina graduated from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine in 1896. She worked for Buffalo General Hospital as a gynecologist in 1899 and was the first woman to ever do abdominal surgery in the city. She went on to work as an obstetrician at Erie County Hospital and as an instructor in medicine at the University of Buffalo. In 1917, after the United States became involved in World War I, she took a leave of absence to join the American Red Cross and was sent to Europe to take charge of a hospital in the Balkans with her cousin from Elmira Dr. Mabel Flood

Dr. Regina Flood Keyes (left) and Dr. Mabel Flood (center)
treating a patient, 1919. Courtesy of the Library of Congress
The hospital had been a Turkish schoolhouse before being renovated into a hospital and when the pair arrived, it was woefully lacking in basic supplies. It had no operating table, beds, or stove and very few medical supplies. With Regina as director and surgeon and Mabel as chief doctor, they were able to build the facility up until it was one of the best-respected hospitals in the region. They treated both locals and war-wounded and worked through flu and typhus epidemics. Regina even served the French Army for a time as a regimental surgeon.

American Red Cross workers, 1919. Dr. Keyes is seated in the
front row, third from the left. Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Both women stayed in Europe after the war until 1920. Mabel returned to the United States and Regina married Quincy F. Roberts who was serving as the U.S. vice-consul in Thessaloniki. From then on, she accompanied him around the world on his diplomatic missions. He served as vice-consul in Samoa and then in Fiji where he was promoted to consul. Every place they lived, Regina was involved in local healthcare and child welfare work. Her position as wife of the consul helped her bring in aid money, but she was also personally involved in organizing projects to help women and children. She was so respected in Samoa that the chief of the island adopted her into the royal family in recognition of her service.

When World War II broke out in the Pacific, Regina and her husband were living in Chefoo, China, where he was serving as U.S. consul, and they were interned by the Japanese. They were among the approximately 3,000 American citizens caught in the war zone. In May 1942, an agreement was made between the warring powers for the exchange of women and children and men over the age of 60 who were considered non-combatants for Japanese women, children, and elderly men. The exchange would take place at the port of Lourenco Marques, Portuguese East Africa.

On June 29, 1942, the Italian liner Conte Verde set sail from Shanghai, China with 924 North and South Americans aboard. Among them was Dr. Regina Flood Keyes Roberts. The trip from China to East Africa was expected to take three weeks but on July 10, Regina died. There was no cause of death in any of the newspaper reports that I found. She was simply reported as “stricken.” According to the inscription on a memorial stone in Woodlawn Cemetery, she was buried at sea at Lat. 5 degrees south, Long. 106 degrees 43 minutes east.

Memorial stone in Woodlawn Cemetery, 2019