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Apple Pie

Nov 24, 2010 12:15 PM | 0 comments


Of all the wonderful foods that are made for Thanksgiving, apple pie is my favorite.  New York State produces about 29 million bushels annually, and some of that harvest winds up at the Green Market here at Grand Army Plaza.  At other markets too, New York's farmers proudly advertise mouth-watering varieties such as Red Delicious, Empire, Fuji, Gala, Crispin, McIntosh and many more.  But which apple(s) will make the best pie? One grower took the novice into consideration and displayed a sign listing the best apples to be turned into dessert.                                      


Now these varieties were not always the favorite of pie makers. Apples sold at the Wallabout Market in 1890 were listed by these names: Baldwin, Ben Davis, Spitzbergen, Northern Spy and Seeknofurther.  In The Brooklyn Cookbook, Lynn Stallworth and Rod Kennedy, Jr. write that Henry Ward Beecher was not only a fierce abolitionist and eloquent minister but was also quite an apple pie eater.  He had this to say about the apple: 

Some people think anything will do for pies. But the best for eating are the best for cooking...and who would put into a pie any apple but Spitzenberg...,

So here from The Brooklyn Cookbook is Beecher Apple Pie, borrowed from the Plymouth Fair Cook Book by Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher.

Grate twelve large sour apples.

Sprinkle in an even teaspoonful of salt, half a nutmeg, a very little cinnamon, and sugar enough to sweeten to your taste. 

Add three well beaten eggs, one tablespoonful of butter, the grated rind of half a lemon, if that flavor is relished,

the juice of one orange, and a pint of rich cream. 

Line the plates with rich paste, which should be all ready before the cream is put to the apple. 

Pour in the custard, and put strips of crust across the top. Bake a light brown, and sift sugar over when done, if liked.  If only one pie is wanted, take fewer apples and less cream

And lastly, we leave you with an excerpt from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, (by way of Colliers Weekly).

Apple pie is always the style.  Go into a restaurant and ask for a 'cut of standard' and the waiter will bring you a piece of apple pie.  He knows what standard pie is.  There are times in the year when other kinds make a spurt and run on ahead a little, but apple pie keeps jogging on. and by and by it overtakes them....Next spring when pie plant comes in--some people call it rhubarb, but that always sounds stuck up, and like you were trying to show off--everybody will eat pie plant because it is good for the blood. In the summer peach pie will forge away to the front, and I'll never tell you why.  But just as I say, apple pie keeps jogging on, and in the long run wins the race.  I mean the right kind of an apple pie.  Once in a while you will meet somebody that is always trying to be different from anybody else, and he will go on about English deep apple pie, and how mouch superior it is to the common vulgar thing we eat becasue we don't know any better.  Well, English deep apple pie is good; I don't deny that.  It can't help being good. You cook apples almost anyway and they're not bad eating, but, law me! when you put them in a crock and turn a little cup upside down in the middle of them and cover it all over with a lid of of pastry, that isn't a pie at all.  It's just stewed apples.  Don't you see that you must have a bottom of pastry and that there is a just proportion of crust to filling that must not be deviated from one iota or your pie is inartistic and an offense against the laws of taste?"   

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you readers, and if you want apple - "We got your apples right here!"

Floyd, the Tippling Turtle at the Toddy Inn

Nov 22, 2010 12:41 PM | 0 comments

In 1954 when this photograph was taken, Floyd the turtle had been making annual springtime visits to the Toddy Inn at 7913 Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge for over twenty years, since 1933. The turtle migrated annually from his hibernation spot in a nearby back yard to the floor under a particular booth in the tavern, where he stayed for a week, taking naps and short walks around the bar. Then out he went, not to be seen again until the next year. 

According to tavern legend, it all began when a customer brought Floyd into the bar in 1933 along with two other pet turtles.  At loggerheads with his owner, Floyd disappeared and didn't show up again until the following year around the end of May. After that, he returned around the same time every spring.

Floyd the tippling turtle


'ALL RIGHT NOW, BRING ON THOSE HARES'-- Floyd the Tippling Turtle gets set to take a sip of brew at the Toddy Inn, 7913 5th Ave., as his traveling companion Gertrude shows off for the camera in the grasp of Mrs Walter Nielsen. Floyd, an amateur racer, recently set a record by running a "four-minute foot." Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 14, 1954

Said Ralph Waites, owner of the tavern in 1953, "I don't know why he comes back. We don't do him any good or anything. We don't feed him. He sleeps under the same booth, looks the place over and goes away. Usually I see him walking into the joint from the back yard. This year, though, he was out on Fifth Ave., trying to climb in over the stoop. He was a little early."

Things took an interesting turn in 1954 when not one, but two turtles walked through the doors of the Toddy Inn. Floyd had acquired a girlfriend, named Gertrude by pub customers.  Ownership of the bar had changed in the interim, and new owner Anthony Baranella was not averse to offering the traveling turtles a bite or two of lettuce. It was the least he could do for what must have been quite an attraction. Indeed it was said that Gertrude divided her time between "grubbing around in the back yard and entertaining at the bar." They didn't have Photoshop back in 1954, and it looks to me as if Floyd was about to knock that glass of beer all over Mrs Nielsen--in which case, someone might have ended up as soup.

The current occupants of 7913 Fifth Avenue, Fillmore Real Estate, are probably unaware of their building's rich reptilian history.  If they ever do choose to sell the property Floyd selected as his springtime residence for so many years, the story of Floyd and Gertrude at the Toddy Inn will surely bring the buyers out of their shells.

Other Brooklyns--a Postscript

Nov 19, 2010 12:30 PM | 1 comment

Brooklynology readers may not remember a post about other Brooklyns written in September 2009 that has so far drawn zero comments except for the daily computer-generated  spamming from a  shoe company I will not name, because that is what they want. "Cheers for sharing these helpful content material! Hope that you simply just just will carry on accomplishing advantageous file this type of as this."  Or, more thought-provokingly: "We've got loved searching the content material."

The end of that post described the "Brooklyn Adopts Breuckelen Project" which collected and shipped needed supplies to the war-ravaged Netherlands town. The contact person was given as  Miss Marguerite A. Salomon. By chance I came across Miss Salomon in the Eagle photograph morgue the other day. She was standing on the steps of a KLM airliner headed for the Netherlands.

marguerite A. Salomon, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct 8, 1948

BON VOYAGE--An admirer presents Marguerite A. Salomon with some sweets for Breukelen, Holland, as Miss Salomon, founder of the Brooklyn adopts Breukelen Project, departs on a visit...She will be the guest of the Breukelen Burgomaster at this home and will tour Holland for a month as the town's guest in gratitude for her share in the borough's project which sent over 24,000 pounds of relief supplies to Breukelen.

It turns out that Brooklynology is not the only place that remembers the name of Ms Salomon.  Danielle Latman, whose home is in Brooklyn, visited the Dutch town in 2009 and saw an exhibit documenting the Brooklyn Adopts Breukelen Project, created by an organization named BrooklynBridgeBreukelen that fosters relations between the borough and the town. Today's goodwill ambassador--our Miss Salomon, if you will--is none other than Marty Markowitz, pictured here on the original Breukelen Bridge in 2009 with Breukelen's Mayor Mik. 

 And by the way, our message to the shoe sales spammers: "Fuhgeddaboudit."


Of Hair Pins and Independents: Brooklyn's Lady Bowlers

Nov 16, 2010 11:25 AM | 6 comments

As the days grow colder in autumn's inexorable march toward winter, a lady's fancy turns to... bowling.  Or mine does, anyway, because my bowling league's season is winding down, and I'll have just a few more chances to hurl my trusty ten pound ball before we adjourn for the holidays.  Ours is a co-ed league, and every week I'm impressed at the grace and skill of my fellow female pin-toppers.  It leads me to wonder: How long have women been bowling?  A trip to our Brooklyn Daily Eagle clippings files turned up some interesting answers. 

Lady of the lanes -- Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1946

The first mention of ladies taking up ten pins in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle dates back to January 1891, when the all-male Hanover Club announced it would begin inviting female friends of the membership to make use of its bowling alleys in the afternoons.  While the men were away, the ladies could play.  The same article mentions that the Carleton Club, at St. Mark's Ave and Sixth Ave, was considering opening its alleys to women during the afternoons as well.  Gaining such entry was no small feat, considering the ongoing debates in the late 19th century as to what privileges women should and should not be extended.  Although it would be nearly 30 years before women got the vote, the right to bowl was one of many early steps down the road to gender equality.

Perhaps there was something cathartic in the act of tossing heavy balls down wooden lanes, something satisfying in the sharp crack as turbulent ball met inert pin and sent it flying, because the hitherto genteel ladies of Brooklyn seem to have taken to the sport with a passion.  By 1894, the Eagle was regularly posting scores of several active ladies' bowling teams throughout the borough alongside the scores of their male counterparts.  Teams with such monikers as the Monograms faced off against the ABC Bowling Club, the Independents, the Welcome Club, and the Lady Equals.  In the fall of 1896, these industrious bowlers held a "bowling tea" to embark on the project of forming their own women's bowling league, which would eventually be called (not surprisingly) the Women's Bowling League.    

Image from an 1897 Brooklyn Daily Eagle article announcing members of the new Women's Bowling League.

 When the league held its first tournament in January 1897, the Eagle's reporters couldn't help but notice the marked difference between these "fair bowlers" and their bowling brethren:

"When a strike or spare was recorded they gave vent to feminine 'Ohs!' and 'Ahs!' and 'Goody, Goody' instead of the masculine, 'Every feather' and 'Never known to miss it,' so familiar to bowlers."

There were further differences to be noted between men's and women's leagues, namely in the kinds of booty brought home by the victorious.  The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was quick to point out that winners of the ladies tournaments walked home with posh prizes like "pieces of furniture, articles of decoration and silverware, which will be of considerable use to the winners as opposed to the trinkets usually purchased by the men." 

A second wave of bowling fever appears to have hit Brooklyn in 1938, when the Brooklyn Daily Eagle itself began sponsoring a league, which it touted as the second-largest in the nation.  The ladies contingent began bowling games in November of 1938, with 30 competitors bowling in the Flatbush, Borough Hall, and Bay Ridge areas.  A regular column on the bowling scene, "Down Your Alley" by Lou E. Cohen, was also inaugurated at this time to serve up juicy bits of gossip and insider information on the borough's pin-toppers.  The Brooklyn Eagle leagues continued well into the 1950s, although the Eagle ceased operations in 1955.  In our photo collection we have several examples of the handsome trophies awarded by the Eagle to its league bowlers:


It's hard to say exactly when the tradition of punny bowling team names was founded, but here's a cute one from the 1950s:


 P.S. Brooklyn Public Library's Annual Gala fete is coming up soon, and this year it will feature an after-party thrown by The Desk Set, a Brooklyn-based group of savvy librarians who have proven tremendously adept at putting together great fundraisers.  Usually a black-tie and strapless-gown affair, this year's gala is going down in slightly less high-brow digs... a bowling alley.  Yes, a bowling alley!  It's a bit more luxe than your grandfather's bowling alley, perhaps, with live bands, leather couches, gourmet eats, and, of couse, a twitter feed, but it is a bowling alley, nonetheless.  Bowl on, BPL!


Nov 10, 2010 11:35 AM | 0 comments

From the Battle of Brooklyn to the building of battleships at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklynites are no strangers to the demands of war. And as any soldier deployed abroad can surely attest, one of the most familiar feelings brought on by military service is one of homesickness. Looking for some sign of home while stationed in Japan in 1951, one Brooklyn-bred soldier, Private Justin Grishman, took it upon himself to write a letter to the Eagle requesting just that -- a sign -- a street sign to be exact.

Says Pvt. Justin Grishman, 45 Martense St., who is now in Korea, 'I would like a street sign from Flatbush and Church Aves., if possible." He is a radio operator at Hopkaiow, Japan.

Just one week later the Eagle reported that Borough President Cashmore was ready to grant Pvt. Grishman's request, thereby extending Flatbush Avenue as far East as possible.

Through the efforts of Borough President Cashmore and his highly efficient secretary Joe Schmalacker Brooklyn is gradually being extended to Japan. Pvt. Justin C. Grishman wrote this column, asking for a street sign from Flatbush and Church Aves. Triple play, Cece-to-Joe-to-John, and the sign went on its way.

 One month later, the sign having arrived, Pvt. Grishman wrote in to thank all who had helped.

"I want to extend my thanks to those persons and to the Eagle for you have made us all very happy" said Justin. He is at Camp Crawford, Hokkaido, Japan.

The final word in our archives regarding Pvt. Justin Grishman (or Grisham, as his name now appears in the caption) didn't appear in the Eagle for over a year, in January of 1952 -- but the wait was worth it -- accompanying an update of the soldier's request was a photograph of the smiling Private seated on a gas can at the intersection of Church and Flatbush Avenues.

Brooklyn in Korea -- Pfc. Justin Grisham of 45 Martense St. poses with his reminder of Brooklyn in the frozen hills of Korea. He got the street sign by writing the Brooklyn Eagle, which turned over his request to Borough President Cashmore's office.

And here is a scan of the original photo where you can better see the snow on those frozen hills so far from Brooklyn's familiar streets.

If you would like to learn more about the experiences of United States veterans visit the Library of Congress's Veterans History Project website where the personal accounts of American war veterans are preserved for posterity and made accesible to future generations. Though not uploaded yet, check the database in the future for stories from Brooklyn veterans recorded by librarians at the Brooklyn Public Library.