Do they still have room mothers? You know, those mothers who arranged all the parties for the class during the year when you were in elementary school? My mother was often a room mother. I remember the Valentine’s Party she planned when I was in third grade and my best friend got the chicken pox and couldn’t come to school. My mother boxed up her Valentines, made sure a cupcake was saved for her, and we dropped it all at her house (I had to wait in the car) on our way back home from school. Since my mother didn’t drive, Daddy had to take the afternoon to do all of this tote ‘n carry business. I guess he didn’t mind because I remember my mother doing lots of these parties.
Being a room mother, she was also a part of the Mother’s Club, which I guess was the forerunner to PTA, which I think is now called something else. As they continue to do now, part of the responsibilities then of the club was to raise money which this group did by having a large barbecue for the community some time during the year. I think it was spring time, around May day. The dads all got together and barbecued a massive number of chickens and the Mother’s Club members made the rest of the food, none of which I can even remember except for the apple cake. My mother, for a few years, was in charge of the apple cake.
I’m pretty sure, that back in the late 50s, there were no copiers, just those stencils that had to be typed and then run off on mimeograph machines. Remember how the paper always smelled when the teacher passed those out? I can only figure that is how the apple cake recipe was dispersed to all those mothers. Every mother was given the same recipe, to bring on the day of the barbecue. My mother gave explicit directions on pan size and labeling so everyone could get their cake pan back at the end of the evening. No one used disposable anything back then. The meals were served in the cafeteria, using the same trays we used for lunch every day. If you wanted to carry out your dinner, then you brought your own pans for take-away. My mother always washed out her cake pan and filled it with leftover chicken that tasted even better the next day.
Every year my mother would marvel at how, using the same recipe, every mother’s cake that was put on the table looked different. They all pretty much tasted the same, but they looked different. Even the pan sizes were not uniform. I think the first year it really bothered her, as my mother liked uniformity; but as the years passed, and the same thing happened, she laughed about it. Just as the children were all different, so were the cakes their mothers made.
Today I made my own apple cake, fiddling with the recipe a bit as I didn’t have quite enough apples. And I don’t like allspice so I put in cloves. Wonder what my mother would have thought of my version:
It is such a beautiful fall afternoon–warm and sunny–so I decide to enjoy the cake out on the patio along with my computer and my book.
I think my mother would be smiling at this, until she learned that I needed to dust the bedroom furniture. For you see, she believed that you didn’t get to goof off until all of your work was done.