Posted tagged ‘Beth Whitman’

Marquette’s Centennial Fourth of July

July 3, 2011

Happy Independence Day, everyone! I hope you have a wonderful time filled with family, friends, fun, fireworks, picnics and parades. Last year I posted a passage from my novel Iron Pioneers depicting Marquette’s first Fourth of July celebrations in 1855, which you can read here.

This year, I am posting one of my favorite passages from The Queen City describing the celebration of the Fourth of July and specifically the centennial celebrations in 1949. This scene takes place at Memorial Field (where today the Berry Events Center is) where the fireworks used to be shot off before being moved to the Lower Harbor Park. The characters in the novel have been reminiscing about Marquette’s past just prior to the passage, which is why Roy comments, “Someone should write this down.”

I hope this passage inspires you to appreciate our wonderful small-town America and the gift of independence that our Founding Fathers gave to us. Happy Fourth!

From The Queen City, the Marquette Trilogy: Book Three:

“Someone,” said Roy, “should write all this down. Marquette is the finest city ever, and since our family is part of its history, neither should be forgotten.”

Everyone nodded in agreement, but writing Marquette’s history seemed too daunting a task for any of them. Not one felt confident with pen and paper.

“Hello, Roy,” said a young man passing by. “How are you?”

“Hi, Fred. Everyone, this here is Fred Rydholm,” Roy introduced. “He works with me up at the Club. He drove the Club’s car in the parade today.”

Everyone greeted Fred. Introductions were made and remarks exchanged about how impressive the parade had been. Then Fred said goodbye and walked away. One day, Fred Rydholm would pen two mammoth volumes detailing the history of the iron ore industry, the founding of Marquette and the Huron Mountain Club, and the Upper Peninsula’s important role in American history.

“How long before the fireworks start?” asked Ellen.

“Can’t we go home?” Jimmy complained. “It’s cold out here, and fireworks are boring anyway.”

“Don’t be a creampuff,” his grandmother teased. “The fireworks will be marvelous. This has been the best Fourth in the North.”

At that moment, the first loud cracking thunder broke. Memorial Field was packed with thousands of city residents and visitors who lifted their eyes to the glorious explosions in the night sky. Pink blazing sparks spread in every direction. Then a burst of blue, an explosion of green, a shot of white, a spray of orange, then yellow, then blue again, and red, and green, and blue, and orange, and yellow, and pink, and white. Burst after burst, straight firing white lines, kaleidoscopic green, pink, purple, all at once. One separate firework to mark each year of Marquette’s history. Up into the sky they shot in shimmering streaks like a hundred candles blazing on a bombastic birthday cake. Ellen covered her ears; the fireworks were so delightfully loud.

Henry leaned over to kiss his wife’s cheek.

“Ouch, that tickles,” Beth giggled. “When will you shave off that silly beard?”

“First thing tomorrow morning,” he promised, “but you have to admit it looks pretty good for having been grown so quickly.”

“Shh, Daddy, you’re missing the fireworks,” Ellen scolded.

Henry and Beth both chuckled, glad to see their daughter happy. They were happy themselves. They were back where they belonged, in their hometown for its centennial, which they would not have missed for anything. Henry thought back on all of Marquette’s remarkable history, the raising of the courthouse, the library, the banks, the houses, the bravery of its people, the struggles through fires and blizzards, economic woes and wars. He thought of the ore docks, those formidable giants of the iron industry, stretching out into the world’s greatest lake as emissaries to distant lands. For a hundred years, from Iron Bay, the Upper Peninsula’s riches had been shipped out to bolster a nation, yet Marquette had scarcely received mention in a history book. Many people could not even pronounce its name, much less find it on a map. But its Northern sons and daughters knew the great privilege they shared in living here. They knew Nature had blessed them by giving them this land of pristine beauty, mighty forests, fresh air, and remarkable weather. Henry and Beth were grateful to have been born here, and thankful they had been wise enough to return. Thousands that night felt in their hearts what Henry spoke as he turned to Beth.

“We truly do live in THE QUEEN CITY OF THE NORTH.”

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Beth Whitman’s Pineapple Brownies Recipe

April 4, 2011

PINEAPPLE BROWNIES are the favorite recipe of Beth Whitman, which she bakes continually in my novels, THE QUEEN CITY and SUPERIOR HERITAGE. The recipe was actually the winner in a 1950s Pillsbury Bake Off Contest. This is the actual page of my grandmother’s Pillsbury Cook Book. Note, my grandma always used a full can of crushed pineapple. They are my all-time favorite! Enjoy! — Tyler R. Tichelaar

PINEAPPLE BROWNIES

Senior Winner by Josephine Demarco, Chicago, Illinois

Chewy and rich chocolate squares chock full of nuts, with a surprise layer of crushed pineapple.

BAKE at 375 degrees F. for 45 to 50 minutes.  MAKES about 2 ½ dozen bars.

Sift together… 1 ½ cups sifted Pillsbury’s Best Enriched Flour

                        1 teaspoon Calumet Baking Powder

                        ½ teaspoon salt

                        ½ teaspoon French’s Cinnamon

Cream………. ¾ cup butter or margarine; add gradually

                        1 ½ cups sugar, creaming well.

Add………….3 eggs, one at a time, and

                        1 teaspoon French’s Vanilla. Beat well.

Blend in……….dry ingredients; mix thoroughly.

Place………….one cup of the dough in second bowl. Add

                        1 cup crushed pineapple, well drained; mix well.

Add…………..2 squares (2 oz.) chocolate [Grandma here said, or 1/3 cup cocoa]

melted and cooled, and ½ cup nuts, coarsely chopped, to balance of dough; mix well.

Spread………..approximately 1 ½ cups chocolate dough in well-greased

                        12x8x2-inch pan. Cover with pineapple dough. Drop

                        Remaining chocolate dough by spoonfuls over pineapple

                        Dough; spread carefully to cover

Bake………….in moderate oven (375 degrees F) 45 to 50 minutes. Cut into

                        Bars or squares when cold.

* If you use Pillsbury’s Best Enriched Self-Rising Flour (sold in parts of the south) omit baking powder and salt.

Blueberry Picking

September 6, 2010

As another wonderful blueberry season, and summer itself, comes to an end, I thought I’d post the blueberry picking scene from The Queen City which takes place in 1920:

            “Mama!” Beth hollered again.

The Queen City, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Two

            “I’m coming,” Kathy called. She had promised to take the girls blueberry picking. Last year a huge forest fire near Birch and Big Bay had resulted in this summer’s mammoth blueberry crop. A “blueberry train” had been organized to take people to the berry fields north of Marquette so they could spend the day filling their pails. When Kathy heard reports that people were returning with tubs full of berries, she was determined to go; she just hoped the fields were not completely picked over; she longed for blueberry pie and did not want to disappoint the girls.

            Kathy, Beth, and Thelma soon walked to the train at the depot with a few dozen Marquette residents, all fiercely intent upon blueberry picking, and even more intent on having a good time. Smiles and general gaiety marked the group, for it was a pleasant summer day, with a slight breeze to cool them from the sun’s rays, and the low humidity meant the woods would not be stiflingly hot. True Marquettians are always ready for an excuse to get out of town, no matter how much they love their distinguished city of sandstone and scenic views; they have an innate desire to get lost among trees, to forget civilization’s existence, to renew their spirits amid Nature’s serenity.

            The train trip was uneventful, but all the more pleasant for it. Quiet yet eager conversations filled the railway car, and Kathy found herself surrounded by several of her acquaintances. Marquette’s population now surpassed ten thousand, but it remained small enough that if everyone did not know everyone else, people were sure to have mutual friends and acquaintances. Because she could read lips, Kathy could better converse on a noisy train than most of her neighbors with perfect hearing. She felt she hadn’t known such fun since long before the war. Thelma and Beth occupied themselves by looking out the windows. Beth tried to count the birch trees, but she soon gave up–they flew past so rapidly. Thelma willingly entertained her younger cousin, pointing out pretty little meadows or oddly shaped trees. They spotted a few deer, including a princely young fawn. The morning sun glistened through the trees, casting a medley of sunshine rays through the train windows. The ride felt all too short on such a glorious morning, but after a long day of berry picking, they knew they would all appreciate the shortest return trip possible.

            When the train stopped at the berry fields, the passengers scurried across the meadows and copses, laying claim to large shady trees under which they could leave their excess belongings until lunchtime. Several people had brought multiple buckets, one even brought a small washtub. People went off with one pail, returned to place it under their claimed spot, set off into the fields to fill a second, and then started on a third. Little fear existed of anyone stealing berries amid such a multitude of overflowing bushes.

            Kathy selected a spot for lunch while Thelma led Beth across the berry patches; Beth anxiously followed her cousin, but her enthusiasm was not bound to last.

            After fifteen minutes of berry picking, Beth was tired enough to want a break. Thelma, too focused on picking berries to bake a pie for her father’s visit next weekend, ignored her cousin’s complaints.

            Seeing that Thelma wasn’t paying attention, and that her mother was across the field, Beth decided to quit picking and go for a walk by herself. As she crossed the fields, she spotted another girl close to her age. She did not recognize the girl from Bishop Baraga School, but that did not matter. Beth went over to introduce herself; in a few minutes, the two girls were best friends, chasing each other and playing hide-and-go-seek among the trees; they completely neglected the blueberries, save for trampling over some of the bushes.

            When Kathy looked up, she was concerned not to see her daughter near Thelma, but after a minute, she saw Beth and the other little girl. Having known Beth’s work ethic would not last long, she smiled to see her daughter had found a friend. Kathy returned to berry picking until Thelma had picked her way in the same direction. When the two were close enough, they started to chat and momentarily forgot about Beth until Thelma heard her scream from across the meadow.

            Thelma told her aunt what she had heard, and then Kathy, who had not heard anything, quickly looked about for the source of her daughter’s cries. Then Beth came running toward her mother, her dress ripped, her eyes filled with tears, clutching the handle of her berry pail, only half connected to its handle so that the berries were haphazardly plunking from the bucket to the ground as she ran.

            “Beth, what’s wrong?” asked Kathy, rushing to take her girl in her arms.

            “I saw a snake! I nearly stepped on it before I saw it,” she said between sobs. “And that girl, Amy–I hate her–she just laughed, and she picked up the snake and shoved it at me; it hissed and tried to bite me!”

            “There, there, dear. There aren’t any poisonous snakes around here. What color was it?”

            “Green, and it was really big, like this.” Beth held up her hands to indicate a foot and a half.

            “Ha,” laughed Thelma. “It was just a little garter snake. It won’t hurt you. I know a boy back in Calumet who keeps a half dozen of them as pets.”

            Rather than be consoled, this news ran shivers up Beth’s spine.

            “There, dear, it’s okay,” said Kathy. “It wasn’t nice of Amy to do that, but it didn’t hurt you any. Now tell me, how did you rip your dress?”

            “Oh,” said Beth, forgetting she had intended to carry her pail in front of the rip so her mother would not see it. The snake ordeal had broken her cunning, so she had to confess. “I tore it on a branch while Amy and I were climbing a tree.”

            “Well,” said Kathy, “it’s one of your older dresses, and I imagined you’d end up with berry stains on it, but I wish you wouldn’t climb trees.”

            The mention of berries made Beth look to see how many she had picked. Then she discovered her bucket handle had broken. The bucket hung down at a forty-five degree angle. Inside, only six berries and some blueberry leaves were to be found.

            “I lost all my berries!” she cried.

            Twenty feet away, a young boy heard the lament. He had witnessed the snake incident and been unable to restrain from silent laughter, but now he felt sorry when Beth looked devastated by the lost blueberries.

            “Come, dear,” said Kathy. “Let’s have lunch, and then we’ll fix your pail so you can still fill it this afternoon.”

            “But I had it almost full,” sobbed Beth. “I wanted to pick two pails worth.”

            In truth, the pail had barely been a quarter full, but Beth exaggerated her loss so her mother would not chide her for slacking in her berry picking.