Cream Cheese Spread

My mother-in-law made us a book of family recipes. One is her mother’s recipe for cream cheese, olives and nuts sandwich spread.

cream cheese spread photo d stewart That looks good, I’d think every time I saw the recipe, must make that. But I did so only recently. Oh, l regret those wasted years!

cream cheese olive spread elizabeth smock* My second time making it, I also added plain yoghurt, about half the amount of mayonnaise. It made it creamier with a little tangy taste. I didn’t add olive juice, as in Heloise’s recipe below. That may give the softer texture I was looking for.

mixing-cream cheese olives and nuts -photo-d-stewartCrushed walnuts or pecans are best. I only had sliced almonds first time I made it. My husband said it’s good but doesn’t taste like grandma’s. Second time, with walnuts, he pronounced it as good as hers.

Googling cream cheese and olive spread

olive cream cheese spread-toasted-rye-photo-d-stewartI googled it to see if anyone other than grandma Elizabeth had ever made this. Have they! Apparently, it’s part of Christmas and Thanksgiving and all special events in the United States, especially in the South. It’s good for everyday sandwiches but also can be dressed up as fancy as you like. In tea sandwiches, little pinwheels, on toast points, stuffed in or on vegetables.

I leave the last word on cream cheese and olive spread to Heloise, of Heloise’s Hints. She explains its joys and versatility ever so well. Thanks, Chipmunknits, for posting this treasure. Tap to enlarge so you can read it. I especially like the story of the neighbour hiding her container of it in the back of the fridge so her kids don’t find it.hints from heloise chipmunknits.blogspot.com_2010_01_heloise-olive-spread

Lum and Sarah McDonald

By Marji Smock Stewart, Finding the Rivers. The conclusion of  her mother’s parents Lum and Sarah (Brogan) McDonald’s story.

My grandfather Lum owned a small farm near Curdsville KY and all he did for a living was farm until his death in 1920. Farming then was the old mule and plow method, not mechanized in any form. In their small house there was never any electricity, running water or indoor plumbing. Heat probably was a grate fireplace. None of the conveniences we have today, but a loving home for raising 13 wonderful babies.

quilt-sarah-mcdonald-1930sSarah always raised a garden and had lovely flowers too. She raised hops – a magnet for neighbor women who came to Sally for starters for their homemade “light” bread. Her daughters did the cleaning and laundry, which they did outside with a big black iron pot of boiling water over an open fire.

Mamaw cooked and gardened and preserved, or “put by”, for winter. And oh, could Mamaw cook! All the clothing was handmade for the girls. As far as I know, Mamaw never had any money. She had no retirement income or any assets as we would measure them today. But she left her family with an irreplaceable legacy.

By the time my mother, Elizabeth, appeared in 1899, some of the older children were married and had babies of their own. Or they were off rebelling in the army.

After Lum died

My grandfather died at the age of 78 on Jun 20, 1920 after fathering 14 fine children. Only one child, Earnest Heavrin, did not survive until adulthood.

With the help of two sons, Homer and Joe, Mamaw disposed of the farm. After that she lived one year at a time with her children. But she never complained. She was always busy helping whatever family she lived with.

I only remember one year Mamaw spent with us. About 1932 at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The only treasure I have left is a flower garden quilt made for my 6th or 7th birthday. As a young homemaker, I never fully appreciated the quilt’s value and used it heavily so now it is almost in shreds. Tears roll down my cheeks as I write, thinking of her aching back and arthritic fingers leaning over the big quilting frame to leave a tangible bit of love for me.

sarah-mcdonald-obit-jun-1935 widow of Lum
Sarah Brogan McDonald obituary, June 1935, widow of Hiram Columbus (Lum), (tap to enlarge)

Mamaw loved being in the lake area that year. There were fish to catch year around and abundant game in season. My dad was a skillful fisherman and hunter. Mamaw cleaned fish patiently, handily dressed ducks, geese, quail and maybe deer, and helped my mother learn to cook each properly. These were Depression years but our little enclave at the lake had an abundance of fresh food to enjoy. Back in Kentucky and Oklahoma where most of her other family lived, people were hungry. In the cities soup lines sprung up for the unemployed. So, for Mamaw, this was a glory year.

Elizabeth grows up

But to go back a bit, to my mother’s girlhood. Elizabeth went to Oklahoma for her freshman year of high school. There she lived with her sister-in-law Pearl and son, little Joe McDonald. Pearl was the young widow of Claude McDonald. I believe Claude was one of Elizabeth’s older brothers who rebelled at her birth. Along with his brother Ben, Claude was a railroad detective. Claude was shot and killed by a vagrant one night while on duty. He was 30 years old; his son was only 12 months old.

elizabeth-mcdonald-age-19-1918Pearl asked Elizabeth to stay in Oklahoma and go another year to high school. Then Elizabeth could qualify for an elementary teacher’s license in Oklahoma. Tempting to a country girl. But Mother missed her parents, Sarah and Lum. Lum had suffered a stroke and Elizabeth felt she was needed closer to home.

She moved to Louisville during the latter half of World War I when she was not yet 19. She enrolled in secretarial school and roomed at the YWCA. Mother had very little money, but living at the Y was unbelievably cheap and safe.

In about 1919 Mother learned to drive. With her brother Homer, she bought a car. Not many women were that brave in those days, and that might show a side to Elizabeth most never knew?

After she finished secretarial school and was still living at the YWCA, Mother had a good job with Kaufman Straus Co. in Louisville. She later quit to return to Curdsville.

Louisville_Kaufman-Straus_Building-wikipediaSo Elizabeth became secretary/bookkeper to brothers Joe and Homer. They owned a coal mine near Henderson KY. Mother lived on one side of Green River with her parents and the coal mine was on the other side. I don’t recall the specifics, but Mother told me she would row a boat across to get to and from work or else pilot a small motor boat or ferry.

It was during this time that she and Monroe Smock started going out together. They married in 1921. Soon after this, Elizabeth’s brothers Joe and Homer named their new towboat after their mother, the Sarah Mac. [see Monroe Smock, Kentucky]

Capt. Claude McDonald, River Pilot

Dam46Owensboro-kentuckytravels.blogspot.com_2012_04Capt. Claude McDonald wrote a poem about the “then” and “now” of working on the rivers. Claude was my first cousin, son of Joe McDonald. Claude’s lifelong career was piloting on the Green and Ohio Rivers. Even in retirement, Claude daily drove by the river for a silent salute. He died in July 1999, the last of the pilots in our family. The hearse carrying Claude’s body detoured down by the Ohio River for a last goodbye and tribute.lum and sarah grandson claude-mcdonald-poem

English Channel 1944

William Stewart, a US Army Air Force Captain in World War II, tells about his flight across the English Channel on December 15, 1944. Enemy planes were a risk, yes, but so too was the weather.

bill-stewart-usaaf English Channel postI was standing back of the pilot in a B17 stripped down bomber with about 17 pilots on board. I was flight operations officer for our squadron. We all were riding as passengers, flying over the English Channel and back to our base in England.

I was not trying to tell the pilot how to fly the plane. He was a better pilot than I. But I wanted to see the weather ahead through the pilot’s window.

Fog and clouds were the major nemeses for countries surrounded by water. Most of the deaths in my squadron were caused by fog or poor weather and only a few by mechanical failure. I was surprised to have spent so many hours over France and Germany – flying gasoline, ammo and bombs in and wounded out – and not taken any gunfire to my airplane. But, while flying over Muenster in Germany one day, I struck a balloon cable between my fuselage and right engine. This ripped all the de-icing boot off my right wing but it didn’t bring me down. I was flying an old dependable DC3 or, as some call it, a C47.

Foggy English Channel

So, this December day, crossing the English Channel, I was looking out the front of the cockpit to see how bad it was ahead of us. The weather was terrible to say the least. Most think of the weather as moving from west to east. But it forms and changes all the time in place.

vloa-wwii photo Bill Stewart
Photo of plane taken by Capt Bill Stewart from his plane, WWII

We were flying about 100 feet off the water in what looked like a tunnel. This tunnel obviously was made by the heat of aircraft engines ahead of us; there was no air movement.

Suddenly the pilot said “That looks like an airplane on the water down there.” I had not seen anything. Maybe we had met another plane or overtaken another. Things happen quickly when you meet head on, each going over 150 miles per hour.

bill-stewart-wwiiI asked the pilot if we had enough gasoline to get back to Paris and he said “No.” This is an example of a difficult and tight situation. Most are not as bad as this but there are many bad ones.

The pilot continued to fly ahead. Soon we could see the cliffs of Dover or a similar place dead ahead. When we got close to the cliffs, the pilot turned north. The tide was out, thus we had a sandy beach if we had to crash. We all had to look up to see the church steeples and houses on top of the cliffs. The pilot was an excellent flyer and, by radio, the co-pilot somehow located a control tower and airfield close by. This was one of the most difficult situations I was ever in during my years of flying in England.

Glenn Miller, Air Force Major and band leader

Glen-Miller-Major-US-Army-Air-Corps-wikicommons disappeared English Channel 1944We landed at some RAF base near the coast. Only a superb pilot could have found it and lined up with the runway in near zero visibility. Later the next morning we learned that a plane flying Glenn Miller had disappeared over the channel.

There may not be any air movement, yet fog just forms in still air. You don’t realize that, unless you are flying in it. Over water, fog is a real killer for pilots. The pilot has no horizons.

Glenn_Miller_Band-1940-1941-rayanthonyband.com-wikicommonsBill Stewart (1915-2005) is my father-in-law. This is from an unpublished memoir he and his wife, Marji Smock Stewart, wrote. He never knew if the plane that pilot saw in the water was Glenn Miller’s plane. But it was that same day, same place.