And Then There was Cook’s– and Most of All Mary Cook

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I didn’t know Mary Cook when she had Cook’s but the minute I met her I felt like I had met someone I knew all my life. When I wrote my first book Menopausal Woman of the Corn I sent her a copy and she told me she liked it and to keep on writing– so I did. I always say: I am not a writer like Howard Morton Brown, or Mary Cook- but I proudly call myself the National Enquirer writer of Carleton Place and hold my head high. Today I found these newspaper clippings and knew that others would like the memories too. I have spoken a  few times alongside of Mary– and believe you me there is no one like her– and never will be.

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Other Stories about Mary Cook

Mary Cook’s Deportment Classes for Young Ladies in Carleton Place

Carleton Place Mod Fashion Show 1960’s

This is as close as I get to Mary Cook in writing.. Not even close.. enjoy!

Gladys’s Chain Smoking Bottom of the Barrel Apple Crisp– from the book Menopausal Woman of the Corn
As a child, my grandmother used to tell me all sorts of stories about the depression. Each morning she would make sandwiches for hungry people knocking on her door and her weathered screened verandah became a shelter for homeless people at night. Grammy would also take in needy families until they got on their feet. My grandfather once said that he just never knew who would be sitting across from him nightly at the dinner table.

One day she hired a homeless woman name Gladys who worked for her until she died. I was barely six years old when she passed, but I still remember her like yesterday. Gladys was an odd looking woman who tried to hide her chain smoking habit from my grandmother. She would talk up a storm while she worked with a vocabulary that young ears should have never heard.
Gladys ended up dying in her sleep in ‘the back room’ as it was called. After she died, my grandmother promptly labeled it ‘Gladys’s room’. When I was older and came home on weekends, that very room was where I slept. You have no idea how many times I thought I saw Gladys in the dark shadows scurrying around with her feather duster, and yes, still chain smoking. The room was always really cold, even in the summer, and it smelled oddly of apple crisp.
You see, Gladys could make anything out of everything. My grandmother was an apple hoarder for some reason, and always had a huge wooden barrel of apples in the shed. The top part of the bin held apples that were crisp and fresh, but, if you ventured to the bottom looking for a better apple, it was nothing but decaying fruit.
So when Gladys made apple crisp she insisted on using the older apples, and worked her magic with them. Some how the odd cigarette ashes found in that crisp gave it that “je ne sais quoi “in added flavour. So as Martha Stewart might suggest alternatives I will personally add that cigarette ashes are optional and the recipe therefore, is not endorsed by the Surgeon General.
 Gladys’s Chain Smoking Bottom of the Barrel Apple Crisp
5 large apples, Macintosh are great, so are green apples
(Peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch slices)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
8 tbsp. butter, margarine or whatever sub you use
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
Preheat to 400 degrees
In a bowl toss apples with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Turn into an 11 3/4 by 7 1/2 pan.
In a bowl, combine the flour, butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with a pastry blender. Cut the butter until the mixture is crumbly and the particles are smaller than peas. Crumble over apples. Bake 40-45 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes.
Serve warm
Notes from the Peanut Gallery:
Gladys is still in her room, huh? Do you think you could send her over to my place? I could use some help with the dusting-and she can smoke out on the patio:)
Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

One response »

  1. As in all things, reaching into the bottom of the barrel provides nothing of value to add to the apple crisp of life lol. We do rarely come across the Gladys in our lives and they are most remarkable and memorable figures send to teach us of ingenuity and the value resourcefulness. Happy to know of your Gladys!

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