Jabberwocky for 2003 September 6 (entry 0)

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: A lesson for us all. Aunt Jeuney has been saying for the last five years or so that she had a box of letters my mother had written her over the years, with carbon copies of Aunt Jeuney's replies. She wanted to give them to me but first she wanted to go through them and "remove parts that are too personal." Well, she never did it, and the day of her burial Uncle Bill handed me the box.

I am going through them and putting each letter in a page protector in a big binder. It is actually going to turn out to be more like two binders. Of course I have to read each one. I'm about 2/3 finished and so far I haven't happened on anything I would consider "too personal". Of course I'm much more open than many people. It just makes me wonder if I have anything "too personal" in my written journals or saved correspondence. We should all go through our stuff before we die.

One ongoing point of discussion in these letters is their diets, weight, and measurements. Those two women must have tried every odd diet under the sun! As well as the conventional ones. I don't remember any of these diets happening although I do remember the exercise program and the calendar my mother had in the kitchen where she gave herself a star for every day she stuck with her diet and exercise.

In 1961, they went on something called the Knox Program. Apparently they sent away for a leaflet from Knox Unflavored Gelatin, and went on a diet of molded stuff. Mousses, aspics, gelatin salads. Lots of chopped celery and carrot molded up. Tuna. Cottage cheese and fruit. All kinds of recipes, with the mousses of course featuring nonfat milk and nary a dollop of whipped cream. My mother apparently got a set of copper molds with Green Stamps. (I remember the molds; they hung on the wall of every kitchen we ever lived in.)

I think these diet dishes may have been temporarily filling, but I can't imagine that a meal of this stuff would be satisfying. You'd be hungry again in a half hour!

Aunt Jeuney and Mom were up against a wall on this--they both loved to cook so much. My mother especially was a great baker, and you know how tempting those freshly out of the oven rolls can be! Experimenting with Knox gelatin had to be a poor substitute for cooking real food. The experience left its mark at least on Aunt Jeuney. Once when I was a teen she invited us over for a "cold summer supper" and everything she served was covered in slime with the exception of the three-bean salad, which I like, but which most of my siblings abhor.

At any rate, this is my second day of sitting at the kitchen table reading and organizing old letters.


© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.