Dear Brother Dan,
I've just received Mom's email
wondering where this month's folklore column is. In my defense,
I have to point out that I did not ask for the Dodgers/Padres
game to last for 17 innings. It's just not fair. Anyway, if you
talk to mom tell her I owe her another jacuzzi or something...
Now let's see we need
a column for May, and I need to appease my mother. Think, think
what to do? What do mothers and May have in common?
Welcome, dear friends, to our
special Mother's Day column! I am reminded of my father's mother's
mother, who I actually knew, and who passed from this mortal
stage in the early 1960's while raising a glass of champagne
Now, I have always thought
that that was just about the coolest possible way to go, and
in her memory let us therefore raise our own glasses, at whatever
Mother's Day celebration we find ourselves.
(I should point out that the
jacuzzi comment goes back to the late seventies, when I had a
band and frequently needed use either of Mom's car, or of Mom's
15 year old son David, who was our bass player. When once I needed
such a favor from my sainted, long suffering mother, I promised
to buy her a house the very instant we became millionaires. The
next time I needed something, having already promised said house,
I offered to add a swimming pool. The next time, now owing her
both house and pool, I threw in a jacuzzi. It escalated from
At any rate, a toast to mothers
everywhere! They carry with them the great secrets and mysteries
of Life Itself, they nurture and mold us, they loan us cars and
little brothers and they rarely demand anything in return
outside of the occasional folklore column.
Another toast this one
to Mary Towles (Mamie) Sasseen, a schoolteacher from Kentucky,
who began pushing for a national Mother's Day celebration as
early as the mid 1880's. Inspired by a successful (and presumably
local) event known as "Author's Day", she explained
herself in a pamphlet published in 1893:
"Having by experience
learned how much one can teach a child regarding the lives and
works of the poets, by our system of Author's Day, it suggested
itself to me that by celebrating Mother's Day once a year, much
of the veneration, love and respect due to parents might, by
song, verse and story, be inculcated in the next generation."
Then, of course, a toast to
another schoolteacher, Anna M. Jarvis, who in 1907 began a new
movement to set up a national Mother's Day. Unlike her lesser
known predecessor, Jarvis was ultimately successful, and in 1914
President Woodrow Wilson officially established the second Sunday
of May as Mother's Day.
Now, presumably we are all
at a Brunch somewhere while we make these toasts. In that spirit,
let us turn to Jolly England in the 1890's, a particularly exciting
and bohemian time to be young, and an era most conducive to collegiate
frivolities, such as the creation of new slang words. One such
word originating at this time was you guessed it
"brunch", which had become a deliberately silly appelation
for the "High Breakfasts" that the English Upper Classes
had been enjoying for decades. A toast, therefore, to Guy Beringer,
who in 1895 shared this silly little word with the world in England's
"Hunter's Weekly" magazine. (Needless to say, the word
was absolutely frowned upon until the 1920's and 30's, when the
custom of late morning Sunday feasts began to catch on in the
In that spirit, a second culinary
toast: this one to Mrs. LeGrand Benedict and Lemuel Benedict.
Mrs. Benedict supposedly created Eggs Benedict by suggesting
the combination of muffins, ham, poached eggs and Hollandaise
sauce to a chef at Delmonico's Restaurant in New York. Lemuel,
on the other hand, claimed to have originated the concoction
by suggesting the combination of buttered toast, bacon, poached
eggs and Hollandaise sauce to a chef at New York's Waldorf, as
a hangover cure.
It is reasonable to assume
that the former is the true author, since our Delmonico's chef
(Charles Ranhofer) actually included the recipe (as "Eggs
ala Benedick) in a cookbook published in 1894, the very year
that Lemuel is supposed to have originated his own concoction.
Still, neither claim has ever been completely substantiated,
so a toast to them both!
Moving along to the more important
toasts, here's a special toast to every mother reading this,
and if you're not one, then a toast to your own mother!
And I must toast my father's
mother a Wild Irish Rose from Iowa who came of age in
Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties and my mother's
mother, born in Hawaii and not a little wild herself as she grew
to adulthood in Los Angeles. Both women were extraordinarily
loving and supportive, and both defied great odds (and parents)
to marry the men they wanted to a very good thing, since
there would otherwise be no Me to type these very words!
A very special toast to my
mother-in-law, Gloria, who has not only given me many ancestors
I would not otherwise know about, but also of course produced
And a very very special toast
the one you all saw coming to Mom, my own Mom,
Sheryl Anderson, owner of Book Again for an astonishing
number of years, to whom by my own calculations I now owe 79
swimming pools and 186 jacuzzis.
Lastly, the Toast of Toasts
to my wife Lisa, who later this year will become...