Friday, March 9, 2012

November 11, 1944 "A Bell for Adano", Surviving the Dames Meeting and Angel Food Cake with Chocolate Sauce

See details below for image source
Dear Mother & Daddy,

"I guess we're getting all the cold weather.  Today is pretty but cold and windy.  We have plenty of heat so we don't mind the cold weather.  We would like to have some of your tomatoes.  For a quarter we get about four medium sized greenhouse tomatoes and they haven't much taste.  Eggs are .68 for large ones and .58 for medium ones.

Our Dames meeting was perfect.  There were about thirty there and everyone had a good time.   I had to welcome the new girls and the faculty wives who came and I was plenty nervous.  My welcome speech went off fine, though.  The Dean's wife is our adviser and she sent us a huge bouquet of beautiful mums.  They were all yellow and deep red.  I had never seen any like some of them.  I brought them home and they are still pretty.  We had angel food cake with chocolate sauce and coffee for dessert.

I finally found a dress.  It is black jersey (part wool) and trimmed in sequins.  It is real pretty but it almost broke my heart and pocketbook because it cost $16.95.

Is Beulah feeling any better?  What is wrong?

We are going to a play this afternoon.  Tickets were cheaper for the afternoon so we thought we'd take advantage of it.  The play is "A Bell For Adano" and is based on the book.

Next Wednesday evening we're going to a dinner at Hopkins.

I hope you got the Time.  We were so busy last week I didn't get it mailed very early.  It seems that we're on the hop every minute.

Take care of yourselves and write soon."

                                           Lots of love,

                                                 B & Bonnie

NOTE from Ann:  Below is a review of the book, A Bell for Adano.

John Knight "JK" (Davis, CA USA) -John Hersey would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize and become a prominent star in the pantheon of twentieth century writers. This book was written during World War II and was a best-seller when released in 1944. And it still resonates today. In short, it is the story of an American officer given civil responsibility for overseeing the coastal Italian town of Adano following its liberation by American forces.
How Major Victor Joppolo goes about this task is interesting as are the variety of Italians-former fascists and anti-fascists alike--he meets and, eventually, wins over. More gripping, though, is the character of Jappolo himself who, in many ways, Hersey repressents as Everyman--or at least EveryAmercicanman. He is practical, yet sentimental. He wants to do good, but also wants to be loved. He has a strong sense of loyalty, yet hungers after an Italian woman despite loving his wife back home. He admires the Italians, but shapes them in our American mold. He is--in modern psychobabble--conflicted; imperfect, yet very admirable.
The title refers to the city's most prominent--it has dozens of them--bell which for seven hundred years called the people to work, to eat, to love, to church, to life. It was shipped away by the retreating Germans to be made into bullets at some northern foundry. Its lack leaves a gaping wound in the civic fabric. Joppolo, of course, gets the town a replacement bell. How he does it fills you with pride. His first hearing of its strong voice can break your heart. This is a worthwhile book both as a story and as a still provocative look at the American character.

And for comments on the stage play:

Angel Food Cake (adapted from New Hood Cookbook, 1939)

Sift 1 cup of flour 4 times.  Beat 1 cup of egg whites until foamy.  Add 1/4 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar.  Continue beating until stiff but not dry.  Fold  in 2T at a time 1-1/4 c. sifted sugar.  Sift small amount of flour over mixture, and fold in carefully; continue until all is used.  Fold in 3/4 tsp. vanilla.  Turn into ungreased angel food pan.  Bake in slow oven, (275) 20 minutes; increase heat slightly (325) and bake 40 minutes longer.  remove from oven, invert pan for 1 hour or until cake is cold.

 Easy Chocolate Sauce

Melt 2 sq. unsweetened chocolate and add 1 can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.  Cook until thick.  Thin with milk to desired consistency and add a little vanilla.  

NOTE:  Eagle Brand milk has been around since 1856.  According to the Borden website, it was developed as an effort to combat the growing problem of illness related to the lack of refrigeration.  It was credited at the time for lowering the infant mortality rate as well.  Apparently a 1920s recipe contest yielded 80,000 entries for clever uses of the product.  Elsie the Cow, and her partnership with Eagle Brand gained significant popularity in the '30s and was featured in the 1939 World's Fair.  At that time, Eagle Brand milk soared in popularity.   One of my first kitchen memories is of Bonnie boiling a can of Eagle Brand for a very long time, cutting off the ends of the can and producing one huge caramel as a result.


  1. Brilliant! I may yet try that chocolate sauce recipe, thank you.

  2. Hello windmill! There is no easier chocolate sauce. Thanks for writing!


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