By Kristen McCauley
Senior Manager of Education and Interpretation
“The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne,”
This quote gets a prominent place in Stickley’s Log House, hammered into the copper hood of the living room fireplace. It’s the first line from “The Parlement of Foules,” by Geoffrey Chaucer, and in this context, helps to promote Stickley’s Craftsman persona and his identity as the “consummate promoter of handicrafts.” The quote also served as the motto for his magazine, The Craftsman. A reminder to never stop learning.
Chaucer’s late-14th century poem makes one of the earliest written references to St. Valentine’s Day as a special day for lovers. In the poem, the author falls asleep while reading and dreams of being taken up to a heaven where the goddess Nature presides and all the birds on Earth have come before her to choose their mate.
“For this was on Seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every brid cometh ther to chese his make,”
What’s love got to do with it? It seems that “craft” that is so hard to “lerne” is in fact, love. But I digress.
Stickley’s magazine, The Craftsman doesn’t have much to say regarding Valentine’s Day, though it does reference, on more than one occasion, the “prevalent craze for picture postcards,” which included valentines (June 1902). The period of the late 1890s – 1917 is considered the Golden Age of picture postcards –they were mass produced, cheap and all the rage.
One of the more personal items in the museum’s collection is a scrapbook kept by Gustav Stickley’s daughter, Marion (b.1893). Marion was 17 years old when the family moved to Craftsman Farms in 1911, and her scrapbook is filled with cherished bits and bobs from both ordinary and special moments in her life. For Marion, this included postcards as well as dance cards, party invitations, newspaper clippings, programs, and other ephemera.
In early 1913, Marion, with her mother, Eda, and her sisters Hazel and Mildred, took a trip to Bermuda. They sailed from Pier 47 in New York City on the S.S. Bermudian on January 22, 1913. In her scrapbook, Marion saved photos from her trip as well as other mementos, including the ship’s passenger list and a menu from a Valentine’s Day Breakfast at the Eagle’s Nest Hotel in Hamilton. The menu, adorned with a small red bow, is a typical continental breakfast you’d get at any hotel even today, with hot and cold options, toast to order, and tea and coffee. But the hand drawn cupid’s arrows and love hearts are what gives this memento its charm.
Those little hearts inspired our latest project in the Craftsman Kitchen. We’re making a Strawberry Shortcake, using this master recipe by Janet McKenzie Hill, featured in the 1917 edition of the “Ryzon Baking Book: A practical manual for the preparation of food requiring baking powder,” compiled and edited by Marion Harris Neil. It’s noted, and we agree, that this recipe would also work with other fruits, such as blackberries, raspberries or sliced peaches, and would also work nicely served as individual shortcakes. Enjoy with your Valentine or Galentine!
“For most people there is no berry or fruit that can take the place of strawberries.”The Craftsman, April 1911.
This recipe was adapted from “Strawberry Shortcake-Master Recipe,” By Janet McKenzie Hill, in the 1917 edition of “Ryzon Baking Book” by Marion Harris Neil.
2 quart strawberries.
1 1/2 cups sugar.
4 teaspoons baking powder.
2 cups pastry flour.
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1/4 cup (2 oz..) butter.
I cup milk
Extra butter, for spreading layers.
Hull, wash and drain berries, save a few choice berries for a garnish, cut rest in halves and mix with sugar.
Sift together baking powder, flour, and salt.
Work in butter; add milk gradually, and mix to a soft, sticky dough.
Press dough into two well-greased layer cake tins.
Bake at 425* for 15 minutes.
Turn one layer upside down on a serving dish, spread liberally with butter; pour on half the berries.
Set the other layer above; spread with butter and rest of berries.
Garnish with the whole berries and whipped cream.
It’s noted, and we agree, that this recipe would also work with other fruits, such as blackberries, raspberries or sliced peaches, and would also work nicely served as individual shortcakes.
Enjoy with you Valentine or Galentine!
Image: Gustav Stickley and his daughter, Marion, pictured c. 1930.
Marion Stickley’s Scrapbook is on loan to SMCF from Robert and Linda Preim.
1917 Strawberry Shortcake recipe was adapted from “Ryzon Baking Book: A practical manual for the preparation of food requiring baking powder,” compiled and edited by Marion Harris Neil, 1917.