While snow is a somewhat rare occurrence in Davidson, it remains an exciting time for the entire college community. This week, let’s take a look at Davidson College dusted with snow throughout the years:
We hope Davidsonians near and far are enjoying their winter!
This installment of Recipes from the Archives is a festive winter punch from Davidson Senior Center’s 1985 printing of The Davidson Cookbook. – Bob Sailstad’s “Danish Glogg.”
Davidson Senior Services (later the Davidson Senior Center) opened September 1977 in the railroad depot building on Jackson Street. The Center sponsored programs, such as an income tax assistance service and a Senior/Student Friendship program, organized day trips, connected volunteers with seniors, put out a yearly newsletter (Tracks), and published three printings of a cookbook (The Davidson Cookbook). The Center closed in spring 2004.
Robert J. “Bob” Sailstad (1915-1998) worked as the Director of Development (1948-1949) and then Assistant to the President and the Director of Public Relations and Development (1955-1968) at Davidson College. After leaving the College he went on to serve at the Director of Educational Affairs and Public Information for The Duke Endowment (1968-1982). He received a B.S. and M.A. from the University of Minnesota, where he met his wife, Patricia Kreis Sailstad. Patricia had worked as a dental hygienist and preschool teacher in Minnesota, and when she moved to Davidson she continued teaching and also helped found the St. Alban’s Play School and the Davidson-Cornelius Day Care Center. Both Bob and Patricia were active members of the Davidson Senior Center.
For this installment of Recipes from the Archives, I chose to make “Sassy Spice Cake,” contributed by “Mrs. J.P. Stowe” to the 1965 The Village Cook Book: Recipes from the P.T.A. Pantry, Davidson, North Carolina. The members of Davidson’s Parent-Teacher Association gathered recipes from townswomen compiled the cookbook as a fundraiser for Davidson Elementary School.
I selected this recipe because of it’s fun title, and because it had some similarities with election cake recipes. Election cakes, as laid out in a Bon Appétit story on their history, were an American tradition at the polls in the days of the Early Republic. While our archival collections do not contain any election cake recipes, Sassy Spice Cake contains some of the same ingredients and flavors, so it seemed an apropos choice.
Finding out more about Mrs. J.P. Stowe proved to be difficult – she didn’t appear in any of our human resources records, and I couldn’t find any relatives who had graduated from or worked at Davidson College. However, some creative Internet searching led me to an obituary on obitcentral.com that seems to match:
“Agnes F. Honeycutt Stowe of Davidson died Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2001 at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center.
Born Jan. 9, 1923 in Stony Point, to the late James Ray and Minnie Triplett Foy, she was a member of Davidson United Methodist Church. For many years she worked at Laney’s Fish Camp. She founded Aggie ‘J’ Originals and was one of the first three cross-stitch designers.
Survivors include her sons, Tommy Honeycutt of Davidson and Tim Honeycutt of Charlotte; a daughter, Sandra H. Boyd of Davidson; a brother, Frank L. Foy of Virginia; sisters, Peggy F. Pender of Huntersville and Minnie Rae Barker of Denver; eight grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
Husbands, James Monroe Honeycutt and J.P. Stowe; son, James H. Honeycutt, Jr.; b[r]others, James and Joseph Foy, and sister, Sue F. Howard preceded her in death.
Funeral services were Saturday, Nov. 17 at Davidson United Methodist Church. Interment followed at the Mimosa Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association, 1229 Greenwood Cliff, Suite 109, Charlotte, N.C. 28204.”
Anges Foy Honeycutt Stowe is most likely the same “Mrs. J.P. Stowe” – U.S. Census Bureau data shows that in 1940, then 17 year old Agnes lived in Davidson with her first husband, James Monroe Honeycutt, in the same house as her mother Minnie and younger siblings. Laney’s Fish Camp, mentioned in the obituary as Agnes’ longtime employer, was a fried fish restaurant in Mooresville that closed in 2013.
Library Serials Assistant and longtime Davidson resident Mittie Wally mentioned that she’d met Agnes Stowe and that she was a great cook. She also confirmed that Agnes husband was “in a roundabout way related to Stowe’s Corner” – the triangular shaped building on Main Street that currently houses Flatiron Kitchen + Taphouse, and used to contain a gas station owned by the Stowe family.
The Sassy Spice Cake recipe is fairly simple, and I followed it to the letter with the exception of the pan shape – I chose to make the cake in a bundt pan instead of an “oblong cake pan,” since it was more reminiscent of the election cake recipe put out by OWL Bakery. The icing is definitely “not a stiff frosting”; it’s more like a glaze.
I shared the Sassy Spice Cake with the rest of the library staff, to rave reviews – several staff members have said they saved the recipe to make at home for the holidays.
Many current Davidsonians are aware of the December 2014 die-in on Main Street, in which “a group of about 200 students and several faculty and staff members staged a die-in protest on Main Street Saturday night to protest police violence against people of color.” (The Davidsonian, December 10, 2014) However, this was not the first die-in at Davidson – the Davidson Peace Coalition organized a die-in on April 22, 1985. While our records on the Davidson Peace Coalition are not robust, we do have documentation of the die-in and reactions to the protest from the student newspaper, The Davidsonian.
As their Letter to the Editor states, the Peace Coalition organized the die-in as “a symbolic action to show our concern about the increased militarization, by U.S. aid, of Central America in particular and our earth in general.”
In the issues following the die-in, The Davidsonian published a series of Letters to the Editor responding to both whether Davidson students should protest U.S. aid to the Contras in Nicaragua, and whether U.S. policies in Central America were justified.
James Lewis’ Letter to the Editor inspired several responses from fellow students who disagreed with his read of the die-in:
Lewis then responded to his critics, also in the May 10 issue:
The May 10 issue was the last of the 1984-1985 academic year, and when publication of the newspaper began again for the fall semester, the die-in stopped appearing in the editorials page. The Davidsonian is one of the College Archives’ most heavily-used resources, and these opinion letters make clear why: the student newspaper provides valuable insight into what students thought and cared about while they were attending Davidson College. Furthermore, sometimes mentions in The Davidsonian are the only documentation we have of campus events or student groups. The Davidsonian continues to publish today, and we continue to meticulously gather and preserve the newspaper!
For this installment of Recipes from the Archives, I made Mary Black’s “Gingerale Fruit Salad” from the Davidson Civic Club’s Davidson Cook Book (circa 1928). The Davidson Cook Book has been the source of the some of our favorite archival recipes, including the Misses Scofield’s Ice Box Pudding #1. The Davidson Civic Club (1911 – 1959; Davidson Civic League from 1952) was founded to promote “a well-kept household and a place for good and pleasant living” in Davidson.
Mary Caldwell Black (1899 – 1989) moved to Davidson with her parents Dr. James C. and Emma Black, sister Emma, and five brothers in 1918, so that her brothers could attend Davidson College – John McKinley Black graduated from Davidson in 1918, Robert Lawson Black in 1922, William Morton Black in 1926, and Samuel Lacy Black graduated in 1929. All four were football stars while in college, and William was a member of the 1926 State Championship team. Their brother James C. Black, Jr. graduated from North Carolina State University.
Mary and Ellen both attended Flora MacDonald College in Red Springs, North Carolina, as part of the 1922 and 1923 classes respectively. Coverage of town news in The Davidsonian makes it clear that both sisters were active in the social scene of Davidson, with Ellen performing a high jump at field games during “Senior Christian Endeavor Expert Class” on campus in March 1924, and Mary playing “the Spirit of Mexico” during a pageant in February 1923. Both women were active in bible study groups in college at Red Springs and in Davidson, and Mary was a longtime member of town book club The Tuesday Club. She gave a lecture on the history of religion in Davidson at The Tuesday Club’s November 1959 meeting; a copy of this speech is in the club’s archival records. Ellen lived in New York City for many years and took a nursing training course at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, but moved back to Davidson and into the family home with her sister by the 1980s. Both sisters then moved to The Pines.
Mary Black was interviewed by Nelle McCorkle ’87 for The Davidsonian, which included some lively reflections on Davidson College and town in the 1910s and ’20s:
“While her brothers attended Davidson, Black and her family frequently entertained their student friends. ‘I’ve always lived with a whole lot of men here,’ she said. ‘Some called this the Kappa Sigma Hotel… One Sunday my brother said, ‘Who slept in the front room last night?’ I said, ‘I don’t know; I thought it was a friend of yours.’ He said, ‘I thought you knew him.’ Before dark, here came a friend of ours who said he wanted to thank his hosts. He said he just looked around ’til he found an empty bed and got in it.'”
Mary also gave some insight on what it was it was like for women to take classes at Davidson College while it was still a men’s college:
“Although her brothers all enrolled at Davidson (four graduated from Davidson; one graduated from North Carolina State University), Black never attended Davidson classes. She said of the college attitude toward women who asked to attend classes at that time, ‘It wasn’t very pleasant really. They didn’t give them any recognition – no diplomas, no certificates, some of the people in town went for two years and then went somewhere else. They couldn’t take all the courses – some of the professors just wouldn’t have girls in class.”
Perhaps the most interesting archival trace of the Black family are the records we have of Mary Black’s travels – Mary and fellow Davidsonian Mary Richards spent 1923-24 studying at Oxford and traipsing around Europe. Mary Richards attended Converse College, was an English teacher in Mocksville, Mebane, and Davidson. The two Marys sailed for England on October 6, 1923.
Mary Black later took trips to Canada and the western United States, and we have some ephemera from those travels as well. The Canadian trip included a visit to Boswell’s, “Canada’s First Brewery,” Quebec City, and Montreal. Her western trip spanned several states and included stops at the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Yellowstone.
I chose Mary Black’s “Gingerale Fruit Salad” for two reasons – I felt it was time that I tackled a gelatin salad recipe since we have so many in our archival collections, and I was intrigued by the travel ephemera of Mary Black, so choosing her recipe allowed me to look further into her collection and her background.
The recipe was simple to follow – essentially, boil the juice and melt sugar and gelatin into it, then mix everything else together, place in a mold, and pop it in the fridge to set. I chose to use Whole Foods 365 ginger ale and Granny Smith apples, as those are my favorite types of soda and apples respectively and the recipe did not specify. I also used crystallized ginger in place of preserved ginger, since my coworker Sharon Byrd (Special Collections Outreach Librarian) had some crystallized ginger at home that she contributed to the cooking effort.
I am pleased with how the fruit salad turned out, although the next time I attempt a molded gelatin recipe, I will look into decorating it in a more traditional fashion. A bed of lettuce and some parsley in the center may have spruced up this effort, but Mary Black’s recipe did not give decoration instructions as some of the other recipes do. Overall, an easy gelatin recipe from a fascinating woman of Davidson’s past!
The College Archives & Special Collections recently received new material on Louise Sloan, collected from a closet in what had been the long-time home of Sloan family on South Main Street (next to Town Hall). Louise (1892-1992) was a local character – a long-time time resident known for her thriftiness and spunk.
Born to Ida Withers Sloan and James Lee Sloan, Jr. (Class of 1884), Louise worked as an insurance agent and the 1920 census taker. Her father was described as “a local businessman, and sometime postmaster and mayor” by Mary Beaty in her book, Davidson: A History of the Town from 1835 until 1937. Sloan, Jr. occasionally owned a store or two on Main Street, invested in the Linden Cotton Mill in town, and served as mayor from 1900 to 1920 and again for 1925-1926. Both of Louise Sloan’s parents came from prominent local families, with ties to the area that predate the founding of Davidson College. She attended Peace College (now William Peace University) in Raleigh, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1911.
There are many town stories about Louise Sloan, many dealing with her extreme frugality and propensity for never throwing anything away. Jan Blodgett and Ralph Levering’s One Town, Many Voices contains many such tales and reminisces:
“She loved reading the Wall Street Journal, but only if she could read it at the college library or retrieve copies from the trash at the post office.”
“‘She was always very dressed and had her rouge on,’ Elaine McArn recalled. ‘She wore a little black suit a lot with a black hat with a veil.’ ‘She wore fifty-year-old clothes or older and walked all over town and picked things up,’ Mary Fetter Stough noted. ‘Every evening she would go through the garbage cans [downtown],’ Jane Power Schenck observed. ‘We [children] were always afraid of her because we thought she was a witch.'”
“She was famous for attending weddings at DCPC to which she had not been invited. During receptions in the fellowship room, invited guests watched with amusement as she filled her purse with goodies that she presumably ate at home later.”
This last story is the most commonly repeated, and although she wasn’t invited, it was considered a slight if Miss Sloan did not crash your wedding. She worked for a bit at the College Library, and then Library Director Chalmers G. Davidson (Class of 1928) even took out a second subscription of the Charlotte Observer for the students because Sloan so often snagged the paper as soon as it arrived.
However, these tales of thriftiness shouldn’t give the impression that Louise Sloan was one-dimensional, or at all disliked in town – as Mary Beaty wrote, “Miss Louise is something of a landmark herself, one of Davidson’s human institutions, a southern gentlewoman of soft features and incisive mind.” (Davidson: A History of the Town from 1835 until 1937)
One of the new additions to our collections found in the closets of the old Sloan house is Louise Sloan’s calling card collection – a wonderful snapshot of the social life in the town of Davidson in the first half of the 20th century. Some of the cards have the top left corner folded down, which could have several possible meanings – as Emily Post conveys in her 1922 Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Homechapter on “Cards and Visits”:
Turning down a corner of a visiting card is by many intended to convey that the visit is meant for all the ladies in the family. Other people mean merely to show that the card was left at the door in person and not sent in an envelope. Other people turn them down from force of habit and mean nothing whatever. But whichever the reason, more cards are bent or dog-eared than are left flat.
These cards illustrate the relationships between families in Davidson – both old town families, and faculty families that made the town their home. We look forward to exploring more of the collections from the Sloan house, and learning even more about the fascinating Louise Sloan!
Last week, Davidson freshmen ran the Cake Race – a Davidson tradition that dates back to 1930. According to an article in the November 13, 1930 issue of The Davidsonian, “It is intended that the first cake race held this year will set a precedent for future Freshman classes, and that in the future it will become an annual and looked forward to event in the yearly routine of the Freshman classes.”
Track coach Heath “Pete” Whittle (Class of 1930) is responsible for beginning the Cake Race at Davidson when he began working in the athletics department in 1930. Whittle would stay in charge of the track team and serve as an Assistant Director of Athletics until 1971. The purpose was for Whittle to scout new running talent for the track team, and the cakes were the motivation for then mandatory race. Cakes baked by faculty spouses and townswomen were not the only prizes – students could also claim a number of items donated by local businesses.
Now the Cake Race is a voluntary event, with a fixed distance of 1.7 miles. The race wasn’t held in 1931-1933, 1941-1949, or 1972, as interest seemed to have waned, but upperclassmen insisted on the return of the race the following year and the 1.7 mile rite of passage has remained ever since. Sterling Martin (Class of 1963), a former winner of the Cake Race and organizer of the event from 1972 until the mid-1990s, said “The upperclassmen had a fit… they said they had to go through it, so they wanted to see everybody else run it. The next year we reinstated the race.” (Davidson Journal, Fall/Winter 1987) A few other colleges and universities have held cake races, and Georgia Tech’s also seems to have been tied to scouting new runners for the track and cross country teams, but it isn’t known whether Whittle was inspired by cake races at other institutions.
When Daisy Southerland married Pete Whittle in 1933, she too joined the Cake Race tradition. Daisy Whittle (1906-1991) hailed from Mobile, Alabama, and worked as the Director of Christian Education at First Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, prior to moving to Davidson. Once established in town, Daisy ran a nursery school out of the Whittle family home, was active in the Davidson College Presbyterian Church, and made cakes for every class of freshmen until at least 1987. Although Pete Whittle passed away in 1975, Daisy continued attending the annual Cake Race and was active in the Davidson Senior Center.
As Daisy described in the Davidson Journal Fall/Winter 1987 issue, “I don’t think I’ve ever missed a race… I’ve made cakes every year, and my daughters helped when they were in high school. The cakes were usually chocolate, because that’s my favorite.” This year, to honor Daisy’s legacy and celebrate a new class of Davidson freshmen, I selected one of her recipes to make for the 2016 Cake Race and for this installment of our Recipes From the Archives blog series. Unfortunately, we don’t have any of her chocolate cake recipes in our collections, but Daisy did submit a recipe for Pumpkin Dessert Squares to the Davidson Senior Center’s 1985 printing of The Davidson Cookbook.
As the Davidson Journal‘s Fall/Winter 1987 issue states, “there are several competitions going on here – one involving the 140 freshmen running the 1.7-mile race, and another fiercer contest among the cake bakers waiting and watching to see whose cake will be picked first.” Daisy Whittle’s cakes have long been picked early in the selection process – racers are given place cards as they cross the finish line, and select cakes by that placement, alternating between men and women winners. Utensils are handed out, so cake eating can begin right away.
I followed Daisy’s recipe to the letter, with the exception of cutting the cake into squares and serving with whipped cream. I assumed the whipped cream wouldn’t hold up in the August heat of North Carolina, as cakes are placed outside an hour or so before the race begins. Instead I sprinkled a little bit of powdered sugar on top of the cake, and constructed a festive, inedible banner topping in order to make the cake more appealing to the runners.
As Alex Hunger (Class of 2009) said in a 2005 Charlotte Observer article on the Cake Race, “I’ve never had to work this hard for a cake… running for (cake) definitely makes it more worth eating.” I hope all of the members of the Class of 2020 enjoyed their cake-filled welcome to Davidson!
It’s time for another Recipe from the Archives – summer salad edition! This week’s recipe is Dr. Catherine Slawy-Sutton’s Salade Niçoise, from Great Expectations: The Davidson College 1990-1991 Office Support Staff Cookbook.
As mentioned in the “Better Than the M & M’s Pimento Cheese” post, the Office Support Staff was born out of an earlier group known as The Chambermaids – a reference to the statues on Chambers Building, where most of the administrative staff worked, and a reference to the fact that the offices were almost entirely staffed by women. The Chambermaids, renamed the Office Support Staff (OSS) in 1982, was aimed at fostering professional development, advocating for needed changes on behalf of staff, and providing opportunities for social engagement. During the 1990-1991 academic year, the OSS compiled Though Great Expectations: The Davidson College 1990-1991 Office Support Staff Cookbook as a fundraiser. Recipes were solicited from across all areas of campus.
The recipe I chose to make, Salade Niçoise, was submitted by Catherine Slawy-Sutton, Professor of French & Francophone Studies at Davidson. Born in Angoulême, France and raised in Dakar, Senegal, Catherine received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Nice and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington. She began working at Davidson College as Visiting Lecturer in 1980, moving to Assistant Professor in 1985, Associate Professor in 1991, and Professor in 1999. Catherine is married to recently retired French & Francophone Studies Professor Homer Sutton (Class of 1971), and the two professors have accompanied Davidson students on several study abroad programs in France.
Since Catherine studied in Nice, I assumed she’d know a good Salade Niçoise! I hadn’t yet made a salad for Recipes from the Archives, and this hearty provençal staple seemed like a perfect fit. As Catherine describes it in the Great Expectations cookbook, “This is a recipe for a consistent summer salad.”
I purchased oil-packed tuna in order to get the best flavor, and used tomatoes recently gifted to me by Davidson’s Systems Librarian, Susan Kerr, who grew them in her home garden. With boiling the potatoes and hard boiling the eggs, the preparation time for the salad was a bit longer, but completing the recipe was very easy, and the results are delicious!
For this installment of Recipes from the Archives, I went back to the Athenaeum Book Club’s 1965-66 “Culinary Customs Around the World” cookbook, and chose Ruby Alexander’s “Potato Poories.”
The Athenaeum Club is one of several Davidson women’s book discussion groups, and although its date of founding is unknown, the Davidson College Archives holds materials on the club dating from the early 1950s until 2013. According to the club’s 1952 Constitution and By-Laws, the purpose of the Athenaeum Club is “to promote fellowship and mutual improvement of the members through the study and sharing of ideas.” Members would routinely select two books to host discussions for each year, and for the 1965 – 1966 year, members selected a theme of Culinary Customs Around the World – when a member would host a book discussion, they would also make a few dishes from a country or region of their choosing.
According to book club minutes, members chose to make dishes reminiscent of “China, Persia, Mexico, Holland, South Africa, India, Ireland, Russia, Sweden, France, Pakistan, Hawaii, and Lebanon.” Each member was also expected to bring a dish from the country or region to the club’s Christmas party. Minutes also show that each book club meeting usually included some sort of presentation on region chosen, either by the book club member hosting or by an invited guest. While I’m not an expert on cooking by any means, my impression of the cookbook was that the recipes were more “inspired by” than necessarily accurate to the regional cuisine chosen by each member – recipes may have been clipped or adapted from magazines or other cookbooks, which was common practice.
Ruby Alexander was a member of the Athenaeum Book Club from 1965 until at least 2013. Information on Ruby is sparse – from book club programs I was able to gather that another member of the club was her mother-in-law, Mildred Cashion Alexander (1917 – 2012). Mildred was also a long-time member of the Athenaeum Club, beginning in the early 1950s and continuing to be active until her death in 2012. Mildred was married to James B. Alexander, Sr., who graduated from Davidson College in 1938 and started the Alexander Trucking Company in town. Ruby married their son, James B. Alexander, Jr., although I couldn’t find anything more in our records on Ruby specifically. However, James B., Jr. and Ruby Alexander are still residents of Davidson.
Ruby chose Pakistan as her theme for the Athenaeum Book Club’s cookbook. I chose Ruby’s “Potato Poories” because I was intrigued by the recipe – in the cookbook, it includes the subtitle “Delicious deep-fat bread rounds, greasy fingers, but so good you’ll lick them.” That sounded pretty good to me, and as we have a new staff member starting today (Alison Bradley, our new Collection Development Librarian), I decided to make “potato poories” for her welcome party.
Making the “potato poories” turned out to be more of a logistical challenge than many of the recipes I’ve made from our archival collections before. Because they’re fried, I couldn’t follow my usual routine of making the recipe at home and bringing the resulting treats into work the next day. My coworker Jan Blodgett suggested I fry the poories at work, using a fondue pot. I made the called-for two packages of instant mashed potatoes at home, combined with flour, prepared the dough patties and stored them in the fridge overnight. Then, this morning, I fried the patties in our staff break room in the fondue pot.
I used canola oil instead of fat, so that the recipe would be vegetarian-friendly. My finished product turned out differently than I was expecting – I made more of an ersatz latke or rosti than a poori. I learned a few things during the cooking process:
I have no idea what the consistency of yeast dough is. Ruby’s recipe did not specify an amount of flour; rather, flour is added to the mashed potatoes “until mixture is soft and elastic like yeast dough.” I’ve never made bread, so I basically added flour until the consistency seemed different than regular old mashed potatoes. Since my “potato poories” never floated on top of the oil – they were too dense – I think I needed to add much, much more flour to this mixture.
If you’re going to prep patties of dough the night before, you should use bakery release or parchment paper to separate the patties. I used tinfoil because I didn’t have baking parchment at home, and removing the patties was a gigantic pain – many of my “poories” were oddly shaped because of this.
An electric fondue pot is actually a really great option for stove top frying. Because the sides are high, I didn’t have any issues with oil spatter, and the pot may have been hotter than using a pan on top of a stove. I would definitely recommend a fondue pot for all of your home frying needs!
While my “potato poories” may have been different than both Ruby Alexander’s and a Pakistani puri, it was still very delicious! I would make these again, perhaps just as a potato pancake, and experiment with adding more ingredients.