Notes: Friendship Album, 1933: Episode 12

Florence gets some help in the kitchen from Arthur, and the members of the bee grow closer as they reveal more about their lives to one another.

What are we to make of Arthur Purefoy’s renewed attentions to our dear Florence? I, for one, am not sure yet. I’ve heard from some of you who have been very clear on the matter: Arthur must not be allowed back in Florence’s heart. So far, she seems resistant to the idea herself, but will she be able to stay strong? Stay tuned, my dears …

I’m not sure where I first read about Washington Pie, but there’s a wonderful post about it here: Washington Pie isn’t pie; it’s a cream-filled cake, much like a Boston Cream Pie. Early recipes for it appeared in the mid-19th century, some calling for cream and others calling for a jam filling.

Here’s a recipe calling for jam, from an old Sunday School class cookbook:

The Colonial Revival that began in the late 19th Century carried over into the 20th century, and I imagine Washington Pie remained a popular dessert for many years. I haven’t made it yet, but I found what looks to be a reputable (cream-filled) recipe on the King Arthur Flour website:

Here’s a 1908 newspaper article from the Washington Times on the Washington Pie cream v. jelly debate:

Writing Chapter 23 gave me an opportunity to do a little sewing machine research as well. I’m making up Florence’s business plan as I go along (your feedback would be very welcome!), and this week I went out and bought her six industrial sewing machines from a closed shop in Cincinnati. They’re treadle machines–I’m still trying to find out when a shop like Florence’s would have gone electric. I suspect this part of the novel will see some serious revising as I figure all of this out.

As we get further into Part Two of our story, I’m enjoying how the women of the bee are getting closer. I have to be careful here–although women have always talked to each other about their lives, I’m not sure people were as apt to share intimate details of their lives as we are today. But I share Florence’s relief when people are honest about mistakes they’ve made and their worries about their children. I know too many women who seem to feel like they have to present a perfect front for the world. It’s stressful for them and keeps us from truly being friends.

See you next week! Your comments and feedback are always appreciated!