Sundry artifacts at Show and Tell

Members of the Westbrook Historical Society shared stories during a Show and Tell program. Roger Knight read a letter his sister, Frances Marsh, who lives in Gorham, wrote about the Christmas preparations and activities when their family members were young. Roger thought it should be kept in the historical society’s library. Members enjoyed hearing it. Some of us still take out the best china from the closet, and polish the silverware for the big dinner.

Vaun Born brought two brass bells, connected with a leather strap, which she now hangs over her washer-dryer in the breezeway. She recently learned, in e-mail conversations with a relative in California, that her father’s cousin, then living with her grandmother, was driven to the former Deering High School, now the Lincoln Middle School in a sleigh, whose horse, Old Bill, wore these bells. Quite a story! Some of our members enjoyed ringing those bells, which have a nice, sharp sound.

Bill Robertson displayed a table of pamphlets and books on railroads, which he wrote and published. His hobby has been trolleys and railroads. Among the books were “Building the Railroad Through Crawford Notch,” “Maine Central Steam Locomotives,” “Aroostook Valley Railroad,” “Grand Trunk 713” and “The Lewiston Branch, Lewiston.” I have an interest in the New Hampshire mountains, and would like to read the Crawford Notch book.

Suzan Norton, society vice president, showed family portraits from the time relatives left Maine in the 1800s to go to Australia.

Phil Curran, the editor of our excellent newsletter, showed us a Navy certificate sent to him several years ago, as he had crossed the equator when in the service. He also had an old watch that was his grandfather’s. It was given to him by his father. Phil also told us of his growing up on Orr’s Island, but he is fortunate to now live in Westbrook on his wife’s family land.

It was an interesting meeting, followed by a social hour with many cookies and bars to choose from, with cups of punch.

I must get to the movies

I seldom go to the movies nowadays, but since I have been enjoying my copy of the children’s book, “Charlotte’s Web,” by E. B. White, I notice that a film based on this story is playing in local movie theaters, and now I shall see it.

Also, I’ve been reading articles about the American actress, Renee Zellweger, who is playing the part of author Beatrix Potter in the film, “Miss Potter.” The Boston Herald calls her career “brilliant.”

Beatrix Potter was born in July 1866 into a well-to-do London household. She looked forward to her summers in the country, where she used animals as other artists use models and still lives.

We read “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” when we were young, and read Potter’s many other stories, and Peter, to our children. The notes on the cover of my copy of “Peter Rabbit” say that it may be the most famous children’s story on two continents. It started out as a letter to a sick child, 5-year-old Noel, the son of the governess who had taught German to Beatrix. The rabbit, Peter, did in fact belong to Beatrix. The letter was written in 1893.

She also wrote “Squirrel Nutkin,” “The Tailor of Gloucester,” “Mrs. Tigger-Winkle,” and many other books about animals. She wrote and illustrated these books. A New York Times article said that her books are sold in 35 languages at a rate of 5 million copies a year.

In this article Beatrix Potter is pictured in 1913 at her Hill Top farm in England’s Lake district. I visited that lovely home in the 1980s when I was on a hiking trip with the AMC in the Lake District. She spent her last years there, where she was a prosperous and highly regarded sheep farmer known as Mrs. William Leelis by all.

This “Miss Potter” film is to be shown in our area soon, and since I’m one of her admirers, I surely will see that film, too.

Keep the snacks at home

I read in the Jan. 5 New York Times that several Broadway theaters that sell potato chips, chocolate, bars, popcorn and beverages at their concession stands are letting patrons bring the refreshments into the theater. The Times told of actors on stage watching a couple in the front row, fighting over popcorn.

I say, how times have changed! When I was a teenager in the mid-’30s, I often attended the State Theater movies in Portland on Saturdays, before movie theaters sold popcorn, candy and drinks. We would stop first at the candy store beside the theater to buy bags of popcorn, but my friends and I could not take them into the theater. After buying our tickets, we had to walk up to the second floor office of the theater, sign our names on our popcorn bags, and then retrieve them after the show. No spilling on the carpets there, or chewing noises to bother others in the audience.

But that was then – ancient history.

A few negative comments in the New York Times article were: “I came to hear Christine Ebersole, not a Skittles wrapper,” and: “Broadway is about a theatrical experience, it’s not about pulling out Marie Callender’s chicken pot pie and a Sterno. Would you go to church and pull out a ham sandwich? I don’t think so.”

A manager of the New York City Hilton Theater said that most audience members seemed delighted by their new rules. “If anything, people want more food. They’re asking for wraps and salads to be available at the concession stands. Recently, we had people asking for hot dogs.”

Why don’t these people eat their snacks at home, before going to the theaters, I wonder. The concession stands undoubtedly charge more for anything they sell there.

Enjoy these at home

Today’s recipe is from the Westbrook Lions Club cookbook, “Home Cooking.”

“DINGBATS”

1-1/2 cups chopped dates

1 cup sugar

1/2 stick butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-1/2 cups Rice Krispies

Coconut

Mix the first 4 ingredients together on low heat until nice and soft, remove from stove and add vanilla and Rice Krispies. Cool for 5 minutes. Shape into balls with hands, then roll in coconut or chopped nutmeats.


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