Ralph GibsonThe office is decked with dancing skeletons, smiling Jack O’ Lanterns, and a witch who didn’t navigate the halls of the Courthouse too well. But by the time you read this, Halloween will be in the past and everything will look like Christmas – even if it isn’t Thanksgiving yet.
The Gold Country Museum move is underway and though we initially hoped we’d have a soft opening the first week of December, it’s looking more and more like a late December opening at best. We’re still trapped in the back and forth between architects, contractors and the permit process, but things are progressing.
While we are busy with work, we must stop and take the time to say goodbye to a person who has played a significant role for the Placer County Museums: Mary-Jane Coon. MJ has been with the museums for 22 years and has seen and done it all here. She has been the face of the Placer County Museums for a very long time, both to the public and our volunteers. We wish her the best as she transitions from workforce to retirement. Many happy trails, MJ! You will be sorely missed.
Eat Drink and be Merry!
Kasia’s WoronieckaFood plays a very important part in how we celebrate. November and December are generally the two months of the year when we celebrate the most, enjoying Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas parties, and New Year festivities. As part of the preparation for the gluttony of the holiday season let us review dinner etiquette and look back at how people used to prepare, serve and celebrate food.
Dinner parties were an opportunity for the wealthy to show off their wealth and became so elaborate that Godey’s Lady’s Book reminded its readers in 1885: “The elegant requirements for fashionable hospitality have multiplied so rapidly of late that people of moderate means have to economize if they want to keep up with society.” Until the 19th century formal dinners were served al fa francaise (in the French style) in which all of the food was brought out at once. This changed in the early 19th century when service a la russe became popular and the dishes were served in succession. Instead of an entire pig or turkey on the table, they were now carved in the kitchen or at the sideboard and served to guests after dishes and cutlery from the previous course were cleared. This form of service allowed for more space on the table that would be taken up by elaborate centerpieces, napkins, cutlery, glasses, flowers and lights.
Until the commercial success of gas stoves in the 1880s cooking was done over open fires and kitchen ranges. It was time consuming and difficult work, and offered little in the way of temperature control for cooking and baking. The era saw the introduction of kitchen tools and gadgets that we still use today, including cheese graters, potato peelers, waffle irons, electric mixers and dishwashers. Since refrigerators were not available and ice chests were the best alternative, food was salted, pickled, dried or smoked. Storage and food preservation changed little until the introduction of canning. Canning, developed during the Napoleonic wars and originally intended for armies on the move, revolutionized food preservation and made new and exotic food widely available.
Raisins, currants, prunes and figs were very popular and added to many dishes, including fish and meat dishes. Brussel sprouts became an important part of the Christmas menu, which along with Thanksgiving were the most carefully planned meals of the year. Puddings took a life of their own. Mrs. Beeton listed 108 recipes in her book. Turkey was the traditional roast for Thanksgiving and Christmas, although roast beef and goose were also served.
As you get ready to polish the silverware and take your grandmothers china out of the cabinet chances are some of the Victorian delicacies like potted lampreys, ox pallets, or sheep rumps and kidneys in rice will not be featured on your Thanksgiving or Christmas menus. One thing is certain and summarized by Lord Byron in The Island: “All human history attests that happiness for man - the hungry sinner! - since Eve ate apples much depends on dinner.”
How to Cook a Christmas Turkey, Godey’s Lady’s Book, December 1885
- a plump young turkey
- half a pound of bread crumbs
- half a pound of suet
- a small bunch of parsley
- three small onions - one pint and a half of cream
- two table spoons of flour
- a little nutmeg
- one teacupful of milk
- six whole tomatoes and the juice of six
- half a pound of butter
After the turkey has been cleaned, wash it well inside and out, thoroughly dry, and dust lightly with flour. Take the breadcrumbs, suet, parsley and onions, chop finely together. Mix with one pint of the cream, some salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg. Make this up into balls, about two inches in circumference. Take tomatoes that have been canned whole and then place inside the turkey, alternately, one ball and tomato, until full. Take the juice of the other six tomatoes, half a pound of butter, seasoning, and a teaspoon of flower. Allow this to simmer in a saucepan slowly until thick. When the turkey is first basted, throw the whole of the sauce well over it. Continue to baste until thoroughly well browned and crisp. The gravy is made by pouring the balance of the cream and milk into the dripping-pan, put back in the oven and stir until it boils well. Place in a sauce-tureen and serve both as hot as possible. A more delicious way of cooking a turkey is impossible to imagine.
by Beth Rohlfes“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. Voting in elections happens once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” -Author Unknown
It’s that time of year when Placer County Museums joins in the holiday spirit by adding festive touches to exhibits and celebrating with our community through special events. Not lost in the holiday hubbub is an important tradition that graces our annual Christmas Luncheon. Every December, as part of this holiday feast and fun event for museum volunteers and staff, we celebrate the graduation of new volunteers in our Volunteer Training Program. This December we will eagerly welcome 20 new recruits into our museum community.
What inspires people to commit to eight weeks of training and countless unpaid hours into the future?
“I love history!” wrote one of this year’s applicants. “I love the smell of museums and learning about anything that has to do with history!”
Besides having that essential love for history and museums, many new recruits recently moved to the area and want to learn more about its history. Others have deep roots in the community and now have time to give. Some enjoy interacting with people. Many are motivated by their love of artifacts and archival materials and want to help ensure their preservation. Many are retired and looking for meaningful ways to stay busy and continue to contribute to their communities.
Every one of our current volunteers brings unique personality and experience to their volunteer work. This year’s group is no different in their diversity—everything from railroad car inspector to credentialed teacher and pediatrician to experienced history and art museum staff. They include an active member of the Scottish American Military Society and an expert in newspaper restoration. Some are employed and others retired.
All of our museum docents complete eight weeks of training at the beginning of their volunteer experience and are invited to return every year for a refresher course. During those weeks new recruits will have considered how Placer County Museums needs their help and the areas that most interest them. They go through a shadowing, or apprenticeship period, when they work alongside seasoned volunteers, before they become full-fledged museum docents.
In good holiday spirit, we say THANK YOU to our many dedicated volunteers, new and seasoned, for their GIFT to Placer County Museums and all those who visit.
"Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless." -Sherry Anderson
Placer County Historical Society News President's Message
by Michael OttenYou must see Auburn’s new State Theater. It has gone Hollywood.
A great opportunity will be the Nov. 7-23 run of its first major stage performance, the venerable Fiddler on the Roof musical by the Placer Community Theater.
My opportunity came Nov. 4th when Ruhkala Monuments of Rocklin installed a Placer County Historical Society marker in the concrete walkway. The plaque recognizes the theater’s heritage since its standing-room-only opening Dec. 6, 1930. It served as the regional entertainment mecca during the Depression and World War II.
Thanks to the Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center, its legion of volunteers and financial contributors the 1972 theater wall is gone. The APPAC crew created a touch of grandeur with its special 355 red seats set up in circular fashion, the circular walls, high ceiling and ornate lighting.
The seating is 1,000 less than the original. But the Art Deco opulence has been recreated taking one back to the time when theaters reigned. The seats are from TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood’s walk of fame. That theater opened as Grauman’s Chinese Theater May 18, 1927, premiering Cecil B. DeMille’s King of Kings and has hosted three Academy Awards ceremonies.
The State Theater is part of Auburn’s own Streetscape walk of fame that extends to Central Square and the 1937-WPA built, Art Deco City Hall and Fire Station, new homes to the Chamber of Commerce and the Placer County Visitors Bureau.
The theater stands as another Placer County historic preservation collaborative effort beacon. Pioneering that effort in the 1990s were former PCHS president Doris Viera and the late Esther Stanton, a major force in Friends of Auburn Library. Other early pioneers include Monroe DeJarnette and the late William Lipschultz who joined the ladies in creating a nonprofit group with former Auburn City Manager Paul Ogden as the current president.
In September I made a special workshop presentation, urging the Auburn City Historical Design Review Commission to recommend the City Council to create an Auburn History Committee to focus on city history similar to other special focus groups such as the Endurance Capital Committee and the Arts and Technology Commissions.
A ceremony was set for Nov. 8th at Central Square of the marker honoring life member Gene Markley.
Please note the Nov. 3rd death of life PCHS member John W. “Jack” Veal, a lifelong Auburn area resident who served as city mayor in 1981. He was 85. In 1996 he was a McCann Award recipient. The Endurance Committee honored Veal for his historic service to the Tevis Cup 100 mile ride and its organization. He ran the blacksmith shop at Coloma Gold Discovery Park and was best known for his enthusiastic leading of the Pledge of Allegiance according to his no funeral death notice in the Auburn Journal.
Happy holidays. For as little as $10 you can provide a gift membership in the society. See the application at www.placercountyhistoricalsociety.org
Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting
Addah Owens, Vice PresidentWhen: Thursday December 4
Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program
Where: Auburn Veterans Hall 100 East St, Auburn
Cost: $14 per person Menu: Roast Baron of Beef, Roast Turkey, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Seasonal Vegetables, Salad, Rolls, and Desert. Presented by Tom Stout, formerly of Mary Belle’s Restaurant. Mail Check to: PCHS, c/o Betty Samson, 8780 Baxter Grade Road, Auburn, CA 95603
Program: A film about the 150th anniversary of Newcastle. This film contains stories from local residents concerning stories of the town and it’s inhabitants.
Christmas Drawing: There will be a Christmas Drawing. * DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL. County directives prohibit it and we can't get liability coverage.
Placer County Historical OrganizationsColfax Area Historical Society
Helen Wayland, (530) 346-7040 colfaxhistory.org
Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest, (209) 606-6859 donnersummithistoricalsociety.org
Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Sandy Simester, (530) 367-3535 foresthillhistory.org
Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Lyndell Grey, (916) 645-3517
Golden Drift Historical Society
Jim Ricker, (530) 389-8344
Historical Advisory Board
Glenn Vineyard, (916) 747-1961
Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lynn Carpenter, (530) 885-1252 Lincoln
Bob Dieterich, firstname.lastname@example.org or lincolnhwy.org
Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen, (916) 645-3800 laamca.org
Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Richard Yue, (530) 346-7121
Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford, (916) 663-3871 ppgn.com/loomishistorical.html
Roseville Fire Museum
Shari -Tasler, (916) 538-1809 rosevillefiremuseum.org
Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Glenie Strome, (916) 782-3299 roseville.ca.us/indianmuseum
Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen, (530) 878-2878 email@example.com
Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Aileen Gage, (530) 885-911
Placer County Historical Society
Michael Otten, (530) 888-7837 placercountyhistoricalsociety.org
Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Tom Innes, (530) 888-8969
Rocklin Historical Society
Jean Sippola, (916) 652-1034 rocklinhistory.org
Roseville Historical Society
Phoebe Astill, (916) 773-3003 rosevillehistorical.org
North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Javier Rodriguez, (530) 583-1762 northtahoemuseums.org
Placer County Genealogical Society,
Toni Rosasco, (530) 888-8036 pcgenes.com