Thirty days hath September….April, June, and NOVEMBER.
Today November has used up its thirty days and we are still snow-free (for a few hours anyway). I love it when November does not bring snow or blizzards–it makes our already long winter much shorter.
On this thirtieth day of November in 2011…I have just taken 2 fragrant fruitcakes out of my oven. Yesterday the annual box of walnuts arrived—fresh from my cousin’s tree in northern California. Today I chopped some of them up and put them into the fruitcake recipe. Tomorrow I will pack the annual box that goes back to Reedley, California with 2 fruitcakes inside. It is not easy to find fruitcake lovers but my cousin and her husband are among that group of rare and precious people…fruitcake eaters and appreciaters! Long live my fruitcake recipe—- delicious light molasses, spicy, fruity concoction from the Betty Crocker cookbook of about 1958. It is the best I have eaten. I make it every year.
Naughty non-lovers of fruitcake make up lists like the following:
TOP TEN THINGS TO DO WITH FRUITCAKE (BESIDES EAT IT)
1. Use is as homebase during your family’s game of snowball baseball.
2. Use it as frisbee (and the receivers better be ready to duck)
3. Use it as a doorstop for a door that will never be closed again (doorstop cannot be moved)
4. Leave it out for Santa to eat and catch that fat man trying to get back up the chimney while weighted down with the three week old rum-soaked fruitcake, a can of pressurized whipped cream, and a quart of milk
5. Stick feathers in it and use as a festive duck decoy during duck season.
(test it in the bathtub to see if it floats)
6. Give it to your dog as a chew toy—-what? you mean even the dog won’t touch it?
7.Crumble it into small pieces…….just kidding… We know you cannot actually break up a fruitcake.
8. PULL! Use it as an inexpensive skeet.
9. Use as freeweights to bulk up your biceps.
10. Place in a trebuchet (medieval war weapon used to fire large stones at castle walls) Stage a pretend war and fire fruitcakes at a castle.
Enough of that sort of fruitcake levity.
This morning just before I began mixing upt he fruitcake I got a call from “The Mayor of Winnipeg Junction” who asked me to meet him in 5 minutes so he could show me where the first railroad tracks laid in our area ran toward town–and also divided at a junction that went north to Canada.
The Mayor was the subject of my recent “People” feature in the local newspaper. He is a conscientious public servant and presides over what is left of THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED about 1910. The townsite now has 3 residents. There are more living in the “suburbs”..the area outside of the original 3 block townsite that was a booming railorad town from about 1897 til 1910 when the Northern Pacific railroad powers-that-be decided to move the Winnipeg Junction to a spot north of the townsite.
I met Mayor Dave and we eyeballed what is surely the old railroad bed leading to town. We also drove to the site of the railroad junction near the Buffalo River where railroad buildings including a roundhouse and a tall water tank for the steam engines stood by the river. Local history is more than fascinating…it has grabbed me and is holding me. I have written three articles already about Winnipeg Junction the town that had many businesses including two hotels, several restaurants, 2 mercantile stores, many homes, a large saloon and the necessary jail near the saloon for the merrymakers who went too far. There were multiple livery stables and more than one blacksmith shop. And this boomtown was less than a mile from where I live now. Walking along the areas that used to be the railroad bed and junction point was a cold windy walk this morning…but well worth the time it took for us to see what we wanted to look at.
There is a hilltop graveyard above the old townsite where several “unknowns” are buried…people who died while passing through the old Junction who had no IDs or no known relatives…probably railroad hoboes. Or gypsies…..they used to ride the trains into town and go from door to door trying to sell trinkets. One report from a resident of the town at that time told of her mother telling one of the gypsy women “no” about buying anything and the gypsy woman threw a glass of water in the mother’s face.
The local history just a couple of blocks from my present home is so rich and full of interesting stories. The next one I plan to explore is the reported plan by Captain Ike—–a Civil War veteran who was going to lead a small army of Winnipeg Junction folks against the forces of the railroad if they came to move the junction.
I feel a trip to see Mark Peihl at the History and Cultural library for Clay County coming on.