Somerville Stories: My Brother Richard and Food from Park Street Days

Food by Arthur Moore

Ok, so we know that the cookouts were awesome and loaded with different foods from each family. I don’t know what each one ‘s special dishes were, but I do know what came from our house. Number one on the hit parade without a shadow of a doubt was dilly’s, or fried dough. We had more “friends” every time those were being cooked. Straight out of the oven after being deep fried and onto the plate. I would slice them in half then butter them, all the while burning my fingers cause who was gonna wait until they cooled off? Then, of course, was the ritual of dunking them. Now I had three choices here; straight sugar, a cinnamon sugar mix, or the favorite of all, confectioners sugar or powdered sugar if you will. To see us eating these equates to a shark feeding frenzy. I don’t have any idea how many I could toss down but it was a lot. After the dilly’s everything else has no specific order. Bubka bread, made with homemade sweet dough with cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins in the middle with icing, walnuts and cherries on top. Again not one of the world’s healthiest things but a rare treat nonetheless. Spice cake or carrot cake. Yup. That’s on the list too. Another one of my all time favorites was mince meat pie. I could eat that until I got sick and usually did, but did it stop me? Nope. Grammy and mom would knead a washtub of a bowl filled with dough and every pastry imaginable would be put together from it. Sticky buns, rolls, whatever; none of it went to waste. There were Thanksgivings at our house with enough food to feed a third world country. Does anyone see a theme here? Yeah. I loved my pastries and still do to this day. I became pretty adept at baking more so than cooking as my kids will testify to.

This was all well and fine for the holidays, but let’s face it; there wasn’t much money back then and as a family of eight, we had to stretch a buck till it cried. There were dinners of pancakes, which was fine with me, spaghetti, hot dogs and beans, and other money savers. The occasional roast beef was a Godsend, especially the gravy. Now anybody who knew us Moore’s knows we are the dunkingest family on the face of the earth. We will dunk anything; beef gravy, chicken gravy, spaghetti sauce, eggs. Heck, I don’t care what it is, I will dunk it. To this day I still do it and always get my spaghetti sauce separate from my pasta for that sole purpose. What else? Hmmmm. Ok, spam! Who else had that for dinner? Macaroni and cheese. Not the stuff that is out today but the real oven baked one with the browned cheese on top. Yeah, the real McCoy.

Now does everybody know my dads workshop? Well there’s a food story behind that. You see, I was a peanut butter eating fool. Every single jar that he put nails, screws, dowels, nuts, bolts, and whatever else could go in a jar, was mostly because, if not all because of my habit. I couldn’t get the monkey off my back, and still I have a two pounder of it here at this very moment. He had HUNDREDS of jars everywhere. Let’s face it. I needed my fix. Then we discovered that Teddy made peanut butter in a five pound tin can with a metal handle. Perfect for his shop and for me as well. All you had to do was look at the ceiling in his shop because he nailed the lids to the ceiling and screwed the jars into them. How many jars? We’ll never know. Dad can thank me at any time for all the work I put in. There’s probably some down there to this day

We, as well as everyone else, had a percolator for coffee. I now own a Bunn coffeemaker that makes a whole pot in just three minutes. How the heck did anybody wait for that darn thing to finish without getting up and going to Dunkin Donuts is beyond me? I would just give up and go to bed again. That being said, I do have one down here in Florida in case we lose power for some reason. I would rather cook the coffee on the grill than not have any at all. Another blast from the past was the old spritzer bottles for ironing. I only mention this because it was always in the fridge along with the spritzed clothes as well. What was the theory behind this? Wasn’t the iron hot? What difference did it make if the clothes were warm or cold or frozen for that matter? And someone explain to me why the ironing board always made the loudest squeaking noise of anything on earth when you opened them? One or two final thoughts. I was never a big salad eater and one day when Grandpa Pete was living with us, I spied him putting about a half of a teaspoon of sugar on his salad. So I tried it and a new vice was born. Like I needed one.

How about our trips to Bedford Farms ice cream? Does anyone remember Banana Buckets?

Bill Courtney used to marvel at the fact that I could eat 6-7 sandwiches for lunch along with a quart of Kool-Aid. Didn’t everyone do that?

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