This photo was taken at the Frisco Line Railway Depot in Phillipsburg, MO and it shows fifteen of the local young men in the late 1890’s. Seated in the front row are three of my great uncles, William Grant McMenus, Eli Preston McMenus and John Frederick McMenus. Other families represented are Bishop, Tucker, Wilson, Hester, Lieb, Lovett, Sutton and McElvaine. The Tuckers were cousins through my great uncles’ great great grandmother, Julia Tucker Selvidge of Tennessee. The Frisco Line was actually the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad, which made stops in the towns of Lebanon, Phillipsburg, Conway and Marshfield in Laclede and Webster Counties. It is interesting that they called it the Frisco Line because it never ran further west than Texas. The sign over the door read, PHILLIPSBURG 193 Miles From St. Louis. Uncle Johnny McMenus (fifth from the left seated row) eventually became the stationmaster in later years. This photo ran in the Lebanon Daily Record about ten years ago.
On every trip to Ireland, there is usually some little experience which stands out in my mind and gives me something to talk about when I get home. For example, I have met political figures, had a drink in the Senators (private) bar in the Dail Eireann at Leinster House where the Irish Legislature meets, and I have run into Maeve Binchy, Hugh Leonard and even Bono in the pubs and on the roads in and around Dalkey and Killiney. One year I met Jean Kennedy Smith, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland at the time, in Grafton Street. In 1993, I went to Derry by bus, and I was cross-examined by the British Army at the border, but that’s another story for another day. I must look for those photographs!
In the mid-90’s, I was sitting with friends at their home in Sandycove on a Sunday morning. They were exhausted from the work week and had already turned down several invitations to go here and there. For my part, I was on vacation and rested and was looking for some action. When another phone invitation came for lunch in Athlone, I heard Rory say that they were staying in but that I was ready and available, and a plan was made whereby I would be picked up around noon.
Now, you have to understand that in Ireland, Sunday lunch usually doesn’t start until about 3 pm and it can go until well after midnight depending on the crowd. So I thought nothing of being picked up at noon for a drive to Athlone. I had been there once before, and this being well before the roads were improved so dramatically, I figured it would take a couple of hours to get there at least.
Anna arrived to pick me up and the first red flag went up. She said we would be back around 5 pm, and I mentally tried to figure out how we would drive to Athlone, have a leisurely lunch and then drive back, all by 5 pm, but I said nothing. We got in the car and red flag number two went up. Even though I was not driving around Dublin on my own at this stage, I was aware that to get to Athlone, you had to leave the city and go northwest. After a few minutes, I realized we were going due north but still did not say anything because far be it from me, the tourist, to question the driver who has lived in and around Dublin for decades.
Finally, I could not stay quiet any longer when we pulled into Dublin Airport. I thought perhaps we were picking up Anna’s husband, who travels a lot, but no. We were flying on one of his planes to Athlone. My sense of adventure really kicked in at this point because it was a clear but VERY windy day.
There were three of us, plus the pilot on this flight. The little seaplane bounced around a lot in the wind, but I was not the least bit afraid as it just seemed to be part of the adventure. I was later dubbed, “the intrepid traveler.” Having always flown into Ireland over the Irish Sea from London at this point in time, this seaplane trip was the first time I had actually been up in the air over Ireland itself, and it was wonderful! We flew over bogs and lakes and rivers before landing on the River Shannon where the restaurant was located.
Athlone is a midlands town, located on the Shannon right on the borders of County Roscommon and County Westmeath. I’ve stayed in a Hidden Ireland historic house called Coolatore which is near Athlone, and we stopped in the town to pick up some picnic provisions. But I have yet to actually explore the town itself. This day we did not make it to the town either as the restaurant was outside the town on the river. We landed on the water and motored to the dock where the owner of the restaurant was waiting to take the leads from the little seaplane. The place was full of diners who were looking at us out the windows, thinking they might be spotting someone famous arriving, but alas, it was just us!
We did have a leisurely lunch and about the time coffee and dessert were being considered, the pilot suggested that we get back to Dublin soon as the weather was changing. We quickly returned to the plane and were on our way back. We managed to stay ahead of the storm, and the flight back was less eventful than the flight north. But by the time we got back to Dublin, night had fallen and it was yet another new experience for me as I had never flown into or out of Dublin at night. The city was alight and from the air, it was easy to see the River Liffey and all the usual landmarks.
The photo above was taken when we arrived at Athlone, and you can see the pilot securing the lines to the dock. Also note how choppy the water was…and this was before the storm arrived!
This is a recipe I tried for the first time recently. It makes a great side dish. I added some ham to it as a leftover dish and it became a one skillet main dish!
POTATO APPLE SKILLET
3 medium potatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (black pepper OK also)
2 medium Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup sliced celery
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4 inch thick sticks. Place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add apples, onion and celery and mix well. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potato mixture to hot oil and stir to coat, cover skillet. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and serve.
This is an image of what was then called Kingstown, County Dublin, Ireland, taken somewhere between 1890 and 1910. The ship terminal on the right is where the ferry from Holyhead, Wales arrived in Dublin. After Ireland became an independent nation, Kingstown became Dun Laoghaire.
Today the terminal is new and sleek and the ships are more modern, of course, but there is still heavy use of this ferry route between Ireland and the U.K. The building at the back left is the old railway station. Today it is a restaurant that overlooks this part of Dublin Bay, and the DART station is a little to the left of the image, still along the shoreline. The park in front is People’s Park, where Sunday markets are now held each week.
The image below is the same view taken in the 1960’s. Trees and a new building are hiding the railway station building, and the garden and greenhouse in the middle right of the older image are gone. I have been looking for a photo of the same view taken after 2000 just to compare with these two, but so far have not found one.
This photo was taken by my mother or father in 1941. That’s my oldest brother, Larry Ray Marlin, on top of a horse named “Babe”. I can tell from the houses across the street and other photos taken that day that this image was photographed at my grandparents’ home on York Avenue, Hawthorne, California. It looks like there are vacant lots across the street, and obviously they had the space to keep a horse, though I cannot for the life of me see what she was needed for.
My first memories of my grandparents’ house are from the mid-50’s, and there were no vacant lots by that time. They did have a small garden in the backyard (no fences between houses) and there were several peach trees. I once asked my mother who the horse belonged to, and she told me my grandfather, Walter E. Marlin, bought it, but I still don’t know why. Since my father was their only child and Larry was the first grandchild, perhaps “Babe” was purchased by a doting grandfather to teach Larry how to ride. Note the little cowboy boots he is wearing.
Here is another variation of the always popular banana bread.
BANANA PEANUT BUTTER BREAD
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick butter
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 large or 3 small bananas, mashed
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped peanuts, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan (I use a paper loaf liner instead of greasing the pan). Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl. Beat with electric mixer set at medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs. Add flour, bananas, peanut butter and baking soda to creamed mixture and mix well. Add 6 tablespoons peanuts to peanut butter mixture and mix well. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with the remaining peanuts. Bake bread until a toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
NOTE: I have also used chucky peanut butter instead of creamy.
Macaroni and Cheese is one of my very favorite things in life…it’s right up there with Apple Cake and Banana Bread. I usually make a variation of the M&C recipe that comes on the Velveeta Cheese box, but here is one that I also like when I have a little more time.
MACARONI & CHEESE
1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups half and half
One 12 oz can evaporated milk
1-1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
One 8 ounce package pasteurized cheese product, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 3 quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Stir in macaroni and cook for 7 minutes. Drain well.
In a large Dutch oven, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly for two minutes. Whisk in half and half and evaporated milk. Cook for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Reduce heat to low, add cheeses, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in salt, dry mustard and cooked macaroni. Pour mixture into prepared dish.
In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in microwave. Stir in panko. Sprinkle over macaroni mixture and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown on top.
This is an old press photo of the Martello Tower at Sandycove which has now been converted into the James Joyce Museum. Sandycove is a little place near the village of Glasthule, between Dun Laoghaire and Dalkey, in County Dublin.
I still don’t know the purpose of this gathering, but there are many more women and children in the photo than in the first, and no flag and fewer ribbons or badges on the men.
I don’t remember the name of the little town in Donegal where I took this photo, but it struck me that it is a real contrast between old and modern. The church tower on the right end looks much older than the rest of the church, and the graveyard extends right down to the street with a modern concrete wall.
As I took a few moments to view the scene before starting the car and continuing on, a funeral procession started out the front of the church and into the graveyard.
This is a great dish for a barbeque, pot luck or picnic! It also makes a great slow cooker dish when the weather gets cool.
Brown 1/4 pound lean bacon and one pound ground beef or turkey together with 1/2 cup chopped onion. Then add 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup catsup (or a chili sauce if you want a little kick), 2 tablespoons vinegar and one tablespoon yellow or brown mustard. Mix in 1 – 15 oz can lima or butter beans, 1 – 15 oz can kidney beans, 1 – 15 oz can Garbanzo beans, and 1 large 32 oz can pork & beans. Put into a casserole dish and bake 1-1/2 to 2 hours at 300 to 325 degrees F.
NOTE: This recipe is flute free as long as the ketchup, mustard and pork & beans you use are also gluten free, and a lot of these products do not contain gluten.
As I’ve mentioned before, I took photos for years with a Canon AE-1 camera. After I had had it for a number of years, I bought the auto winder that went with it and for ever after, never did I miss a shot because I had not advanced the film in time. The photo above is a fluke. It is obviously double exposed, but that wasn’t supposed to happen with the auto winder.
I was meeting a friend at Venice Beach one afternoon in late 1997, and before I left home, I put a new roll of film in the camera and the auto winder advanced, ready to shoot. Somehow, as I was loading the camera, it went off and caught the image of my daughter lying on my bedroom floor next to my bed. The carpet was about the same color as the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Julie had come into my bedroom to talk about something or other and as she often did, she stretched out. The bed was on a carpeted platform, and that is the bed ruffle hanging at the top of the image where you can also see the palm trees and Santa Monica Mountains in the background. You can best see the ruffle and comforter to the left and bottom of the sign on the right that says, SKATES.
I went off the Venice Beach shortly thereafter, met my friend and started taking photos. The first photo of the Boardwalk obviously double exposed over the photo of my daughter. When the film was developed a few weeks later, I was really surprised but pleasantly so. Everyone who saw the photo thought it was amazing since they thought I had done it on purpose using some wonderful photographic technique. I couldn’t have captured these two images in one if I had tried…and believe me, I didn’t!
What I like about the photo is that Julie’s legs sort of melt into the building on the right, her middle is centered with the middle of the Boardwalk, and then her hands are lying there next to the Palm Reading sign! You may not be able to see the detail in the post, but it’s a great photo! Just goes to show that if you take enough photos, you eventually get some really great ones!
This cake was one of my mother’s favorites and she made it several times a year. It takes a bit of time to make and assemble, but it’s well worth it. The filling/frosting is what makes it so special.
GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 pkg (4 oz) German sweet chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
Melt chocolate in boiling water. Cool. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Blend in vanilla and chocolate. Sift flour with soda and salt; add alternately with buttermilk to chocolate mixture, beating after each addition until smooth. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour into three 8 or 9 inch round layer cake pans, lined on bottom with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool. Frost tops only with Coconut-Pecan Frosting.
COCONUT PECAN FROSTING
Combine 1 cup evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, 2 slightly beaten egg yolks, 1/2 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened, about 12 minutes. Add 1-1/3 cups flaked coconut and 1 cup choppee pecans. Cool until thick enough to spread; beat occasionally. Makes 2-1/2 cups.
I am only guessing when I say that I think this photo is from the 1940’s or 50’s. It was obviously taken in a small town that had a weekly market, which means it could have been just about anywhere in Ireland. I bought this photo in a little shop in Sandycove, County Dublin, many years ago.
This is a photo of one of the first “filling” stations in Phillipsburg, MO. That’s my great grandfather, Harvey Shank, standing out front with two of his grandchildren. His son, John Edward Shank, was the agent for The Standard Oil Company.
Midway Camp sign is on the roof, note the chimney at the back. This station also had cabins (on the bottom right signs above doors say MODERN CABINS and HOME SWEET HOME), as well as a restaurant where Blanche Shank, Uncle Ed’s wife, did the cooking. The station sold Red Crown Gasoline and sold Atlas Tires. The sign over the front door also boasts LADIES RESTROOM which apparently was a great luxury for female travelers. The round sign to the left says ISO VIS Motor Oil.
My mother always told the story about how Bonnie and Clyde stopped for the night and rented one of the cabins. Bonnie especially enjoyed Aunt Blanche’s home cooked dinner!
This is a great recipe which is very easy to make and is always a hit. I have served it as a first course and also as a main dish. If you like shrimp, you will enjoy this dish, and it makes a nice change from the usual ham and cheese quiche.
QUICHE AUX CREVETTES
1 unbaked 8 inch pie shall
3/4 lb. fresh or frozen shrimp, cooked
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup light cream or half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of white pepper
Dash or cayenne pepper
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Bake pie shell at 400 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside 4 shrimp for garnish, if desired. Dice remaining shrimp. Combine eggs, milk, cream and seasonings. Arrange shrimp and cheese in partially baked pie shell. Pour in egg mixture. Tope with reserved shrimp. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
This is another photo that I bought in an “antiques” shop in Dublin. I was walking along the quays on the River Liffey downtown one day and came across a shop that boasted antiques, but was as much junk as anything else. When I asked if they had any old photographs, they came up with an envelope of half a dozen images. This was one of them. I think it’s about 1900, but again, it’s only a guess. No identification as to location either. Note the bathing house to the right. Modest ladies were wheeled out to a certain depth and then allowed to go in the water without being seen. Very proper. VERY different from today!
This one is really easy but turns out quite spectacularly!
1 package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup melted butter
Reserve one cup of dry cake mix, mix the rest of the mix with butter and egg. Put in a 13 x 9 inch greased baking pan.
3 cups canned pumpkin pie mix
2/3 cup milk
Mix together and pour on top of cake mixture.
1 cup of dry reserved cak mix
1/4 cup sugar (I often used brown sugar or both)
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix ingredients together and sprinkle on top of cake mixture and filling. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes. Serves 12.
I have found that a lot of people search for new and different banana bread recipes. Personally, the one I like the best is the Starbuck’s Banana Bread (look for it under BAKING in the archives). However, the one below is a British variation that uses dried banana chips, sultanas and Earl Grey tea. The fruit is soaked in the tea, which is a method used in other tea breads such as Irish Barm Brack. It also calls for whole wheat flour which makes the texture a little heavier. FYI, it’s very hard to find sultanas in the U.S. The best substitutes are the golden raisins made from Thompson seedless grapes that are available everywhere. Get out your scale because this recipes measures everything in grams! And hopefully you can figure out the milliliter conversions — if you don’t have a liquid measure that shows milliliters, there are conversion charts on the internet!
BANANA CHIP TEABREAD
1 Earl Grey tea bag
150 grams dried banana slices (dried chips)
100 grams sultanas
100 ml rapeseed or other vegetable oil
175 grams soft brown sugar
2 free range medium eggs
225 grams self-rising wholemeal (whole wheat) flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a standard loaf tin with paper liner or parchment.
Soak the tea bag in 300 ml boiling water, remove the tea bag, then pour the tea oveer the fruit and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
Whisk the oil, sugar and eggs in a lare bowl until pale and creamy, add the soaked fruit. Fold in the flour and pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until golden and cooked. Cool slightly before removing from the tin.
This is a vintage image of Leenane, County Galway, Ireland. The little town is located where the Atlantic comes inland in a very dramatic fashion. You drive through Leenane along the coast when you travel from Westport to Galway. The beautiful town of Clifden lies between the two.
It’s getting to be that time of year again. In my search for pumpkin recipes, I came across this one which is another sent to me by my cousin, Eleanor McGrew Brumm. One day I hope to put a family cookbook together with some of the more interesting photos, and a lot of these recipes will be found there. I always add white raisins and/or nuts to this recipe.
PILGRIM PUMPKIN CAKE
1 package spice cake mix
2 cups solid pack pumpkin
2 teaspoons soda
1/3 cup water (I sometimes substitute a little oil here for moistness)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Beat 30 seconds on low speed, then beat 4 minutes at medium speed. Pour batter into greased and floured 13 x 9 x 2 pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes. Serve warm topped with whipped cream.
I’ve been in County Donegal twice. The first time was in 2000 when we drove through on the way to Derry. I was drawn to go back and explore in 2006.
I took this photo on the way to the coast and it shows the contrast between the mountains (where the sheep often graze) and the farmlands below.
One thing I noticed in Donegal is that instead of building stone walls, they plant hedges mostly to create walls and partitions. That makes me think that perhaps there isn’t as much stone in this northern County.
Here is another recipe from cousin Millie Frances McMenus Ikerd, who lived on Route 66 in Conway, Missouri. I visited her several times before she passed away. I think she was 90. She sewed and made lovely children’s clothing for her neighbors, and she was a marvelous cook. This is her recipe for Chicken and Noodles, and she told me that she always made this when her family came home, making at least four time the amount listed here. She also took this dish to her church dinners at the Twlight Church which was just up the road from her house.
CHICKEN and NOODLES
Boil one large chicken and remove meat from the bone, shredding the larger pieces. “Make sure there is plenty of broth” after boiling.
Mix 2 or 3 eggs, 3/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add flour, and keep adding flour until you have a “real stiff” dough. Pinch small balls off the dough and roll very thin, cutting into 1/2 inch strips. Drop the strips into boiling chicken broth, and then add the chicken once all noodles are in the broth.
She gave me no other instructions, and I’ve had to make this a few times to get it right. The noodles do need to cook a few minutes in the broth before adding the chicken, but once done, it’s wonderful!
This is another photo I bought on the quays in Dublin. It is a group of Irish school girls and friends, as near as I can tell. The girl seated second from the right is wearing a cap and gown. There are light penciled names above and below the image. The names I can make out are Murphy, O’Shea, Kingston, Guilford and Begley. I have a lot of old images of Ireland, and one day I think I will donate them to the National Archives in Dublin.
If you like salmon, smoked or otherwise, this is a great party favorite!
8 ounces cooked salmon, flaked (smoked salmon can also be substituted)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon chopped chives
1/2 teaspoon minced onion
1/8 teaspoon crumbled dry rosemary
Dash of white pepper
Dash of black pepper
Dash of cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
Mix all ingredients thoroughly except sour cream. Once the salmon mixture has been coated with all the ingredients, add sour cream and mix thoroughly again. Spoon into serving dish and cover with plastic wrap. Then refrigerate for several hours until ready to serve. Great served with toasted brown bread, crackers or vegetables.
NOTE: I have also used 1/4 cup cream cheese and 1/4 cup sour cream for this recipe instead of the full 1/2 cup sour cream.