Lucia Hazen Webster letter to her late husband, 1943

Lucia Hazen Webster wrote a series of letters to her late husband, Dan after his death in 1943. In these letters she brought him up date on family matters and reminisced about their life together. This was written on Nov 25, 1943.

Dear Dan, There were fourteen of us to sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner at our house this noon. The girls did most of the work and cleared up the dishes after wards. It did not seem like the days when we were younger and you and I did it all. How early we were up so I could make a chicken pie from the fowls you had dressed and cleaned so carefully. How you staid close by to taste the rice pudding before I put it in the oven and told me how much more salt or cream or sugar it needed. How you watched that the chicken pie should not burn on top. (This is the 2nd account that I have seen recently of serving chicken pie for Thanksgiving dinner. Was this a tradition in other Hartland homes? C.Y.M.) I can see you now sitting down before the oven door to attend to it, placing a paper over if the crust seemed to be baking too fast, turning it around as often as was necessary and keeping the fire just right.

Many times John’s family came here to have holiday dinner with us, but after Mary died when I was teaching school, they asked us to their house for Thanksgiving and came here for Christmas. Whenever the feast was at our house we had the traditional chicken pie and rice pudding. It did not so much matter about the incidentals - potatoes, squash, turnips, nuts pies and cranberry sauce. We could have them or not as long as we did not miss the big, big pie and the four quart rice pudding. I say we always had them but there was one exception. Mother and Helen had been here on a visit and when it came Thanksgiving week Sanford Shepard sent us a turkey. After wards he said he would not have done it if he did not think our company would stay over the holiday. He didn’t want mother to think we here in Vermont did not know that turkey was the thing to eat on Thanksgiving Day. I remember that you liked that turkey but the next year we had the old standby again.

There were some foods that you did not care for at all, and some you wanted often, but if only you had liked tomatoes I should not have thought you a difficult person to feed. And when I wanted oysters so much that I brought some home and made oyster stew you would, under some protest, eat a little of the broth.

I think johnny cake was as satisfying to you as anything I could make but you and I did not agree on the recipe. You wanted no sugar cooked in it and I wanted mine sweet, so half the batter was put in one small pan and half, with sugar added went into another. But did you eat yours unsweetened? Never. Onto your plate it went, was covered with cream and then with sugar. And you could never understand why I laughed at you.

We had salt pork and baked potatoes often and every little while you would look over a quart of beans for me to bake and you liked to superintend  the seasoning yourself. I think you inherited that from your father. You used to tell about him making coffee, roasting the coffee beans himself with just the right amount of butter and constant stirring, then grinding them in the coffee mill. I never heard of his boiling the coffee so I presume Mother did that . You children were allowed a cup of the coffee on Sunday mornings as a real treat and I can picture you watching the roasting and grinding. I think it was such occasions that gave rise to the custom you had of superintending the cooking of particular favorite foods.

You were never one to try new dishes if old ones could be had and when we went west you asked me particularly not to order for you any “Chinese or other foreign foods.”

Reprinted from the Vermont Standard, 2012, “Historically Speaking” by Carol Mowry.

Comments are closed.