Thursday, May 7, 2009

Found in the donation bin...

Unlike most library branches, we have a little bookstore on the second floor, run by our Friends group, and so we have used books for sale available year-round, not just twice yearly at a big sale as other branches do. Because of this, a lot of our patrons know they can drop off boxes of books (and they frequently do) for us to either add to the collection, or sell.

I don't know if it's because of the recession, but our book donations seem to have quadrupled recently. Maybe folks are downsizing or getting rid of their rented storage space? Sadly, we get an awful lot of items that are completely beyond saving. People just can't bear to see a book go on the recycling heap, so they bring it to us, hoping we can do something with it. I've seen plenty of books water-damaged, cobwebby or covered in mold, and once someone even brought in a box of books their cat had peed on, saying, "You work in a library! Do you think you can you fix this?" (I didn't have the heart to tell them no... I just snuck the box into the trash once they'd left.) It's heartwarming, in a way, to see how much respect people have for the written word.

Once in a while, after sorting through the usual "junk" that we get, I run across a treasure like this one. Someone must have tucked this away and never used it at all as it's in near perfect condition. Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls was first published in 1957, and it's full of wonderful two-tone vintage illustrations throughout. There are several full-color inserts which have a very saturated technicolor look. Best of all, are the quotes from children that caption the end of recipes. There are a number of quotes from boys eager to assure us that cooking is not too feminine an activity; "Baking is as much fun as my chemistry set. And you can eat what you mix up." - Eric. On a page of cake recipes: "I made one for Dad's birthday. It was Spice Cake with Caramel Fudge Frosting and Dad said it was keen." - Peter. Meanwhile, Elizabeth tells us, "If I were a mama, I'd cook all day."

The recipes actually look pretty good. Only a few of the ingredients looked unfamiliar to me. The recipe for "American Pizza" which the book carefully explains is a kind of "Italian Pie" calls for a half pound of "nippy cheese" whatever that is. A lot of recipes use mixes and other prepared foods to speed things along. A great deal of them feature food decorated to look like smiley faces, which I know I loved as a kid. I found the whole book to be a kitschy pleasure... I think whoever buys it out of our bookstore is in for a real treat.


  1. Nippy cheese? Probably anything that isn't American cheese or Velveeta!

  2. I don't know, but the accompanying photo features a pizza topped with bright, bright orange cheese. Maybe cheddar?

  3. What's funny is mozzarella is considered authentic American-style pizza cheese - and it's not nippy at all.



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