do you remember

Oct 7, 2011

OK folks, here we go with our first kitchen party. We’ll start with a description of a typical Gander kitchen party recalled by Patricia Dempsey Hiscock, GA Class of 1956. We’ve invited our musicians David Naish, GA Class of 1960 and Bob McKinnon, SJ Class of 1961 to provide some music you hear in the background. (They have worked on the mix of lyrics and instruments from home in Ontario and in the Annapolis Valley, N.S.) All pretty impressive, thanks to today’s technolo

So come on in to the Dempsey kitchen in Oldtown Gander, have a seat and enjoy…


A lot of kitchen parties were spontaneous and food provided was whatever was at hand.

Kitchen parties at times started out with a card game (120 or 45) and could end up with someone playing the piano, accordion, etc., for a sing-a-long.  Musicians were often the talented and not so talented children of the hosts.  But, as the saying goes, “a good time was had by all.”

Home made soups, sandwiches and an assortment of cakes and cookies was usually the fare

If, however, the party was planned it sometimes started out with an invite to supper and then progressed to card games, a sing-a-long and snacks same as today but not so lavish.  In the “old days” families always had home made preserves of all kinds.. . sweets, pickles, home made wines, jam made from wild berries, fish, wild game, home made breads, rolls, etc.,  . . . . all artfully put together for a party feast.  Our parents were resourceful (they caught the fish, killed the game and picked the fruit) and did the best with what they had. 

In later years, when “store bought party food” was more available and accessible food offerings became a little more lavish and followed along the lines of what was portrayed in magazines as well as “the regular” stuff.  The Evening Telegram and Daily News newspapers (and later the Gander Beacon I believe) also featured recipes.  I know that at one time Mrs. Smallwood’s Fruitcake Recipe was published in the Evening Telegram.  It is also in Fatback and Molasses.

A “wee dram” and/or homemade beer also found its way to the table with Purity Syrup (Salvation Rum) made available to the children and non-drinkers.  There was always the old faithful standby - cup of tea.

Most “recipes” used in our homes were handed down from generation to generation and were “brought over from the old country” by our ancestors.  Some were concocted through necessity by using whatever was available in the pantry and were possibly done so by our ancestors to “prevent their stomachs from cavin’ in!”

The “Purity Cookbook” and other such sources provided many a recipe and, of course, friends shared recipes that were not “family secrets.”  The cookbook, I believe the first edition was printed in the 1970’s, Fatback and Molasses is full of old time recipes.

Our homes were a place of safety, gathering places for our friends when we were children.  We ate our parents out of house and home. We lived in the “H” shaped apartment building, where said childhood and teenaged get-togethers were chaperoned, in my home, by my parents, the neighbours and one of our most disliked School/Sunday School teachers who kept watch on us from his bedroom window.  The food at our pre teen/teenage gatherings usually included:

  • whatever sweets Mom had baked during the week
  • Tip Top and Square Lunch biscuits topped with Velveeta or “Rat” cheese
  • homemade chips
  • Ice cream made from ingredients that came in a small box like Jello but I believe that it was produced by Carnation Milk – to mix this up, we emptied the ice tray, poured in the mixture and nearly defrosted the refrigerator, opening the fridge door so often to check on the freezing process.  In those days, the fridge freezer was very small and situated at the
  • top of the freezer (in the middle)
  • Popcorn
  • Lemon Crystal
  • Bread and molasses or Bread and Jam . . . sometimes we had toast and jam
  • On days when we went berry picking, we rinsed the berries with water, added sugar and carnation milk . . . that was so sweet, I don’t know how our stomachs didn’t rebel


Needless to say, we always had to check with our parents to determine what foodstuffs we could eat and treat our friends to . . . not all were so generous as family circumstances varied.
And, it goes without saying that Mom and Dad had to say “no” to us at times.
- Patricia Dempsey Hiscock, GA Class of 1956
NOTE: (All of this transpired with a suggestion by Clyde and Betty Burt that we talk about and share recipes of some of our favorite foods we enjoyed while growing up).

Thanks to all, and I hope you will comment with suggestions on this topic and maybe we can put together another such ‘gathering’ in the near future. Right here, thanks to our webmaster Jack Pinsent, GA Class of 1960.

Send along the recipes for food and entertainment for an upcoming Kitchen party to Faye Lewis Raynard, (Sorry folks Louis Armstrong and Bob Hope aren’t passing thru Gander these days). We’ll be making our own entertainment.



back button