Most of us who remember Mary Justice probably picture her on the dock of the ferry landing, with her taxi behind her, awaiting the lucky passengers who will get to ride in her taxi, and absorb some local island flavor. Most of us don’t know about her home life, though, and that she was an avid collector of cookbooks, most of which she probably sent away for by mail, given that she rarely left the island.
This lovely exhibit, curated by her daughter Marie Harmon, with assistance from Nancy Noble, of her cookbooks showcases the kind of cookbooks that are indicative of the cooking that was done in the mid-20th century, by most “modern” women. There are also books kept by other members of Marie’s family, such as the 1947 edition of Joy of Cooking. This well-loved cookbook shows great signs of being used and loved. The inscription to Marie’s great-aunt Marie reads, “December 25, 1947, To Marie, with loads of love from Jenny and “Muffie” and “it better be good eating from here on in.”
A touch of the Christmas spirit can also be seen in the holiday entertaining accoutrements, such as coasters, napkins, and cups, most still encased in their original plastic packaging. (Antiques Roadshow would approve!). A Santa mug that belonged to either Marie or her sister Ann, as well as a sugar scoop, bring a flavor to what Christmas and baking was like in the Justice household.
There are even a few Maine titles in the collection:
-Maine Rebekah Cookbook (1939)
-Maine Ladies Auxiliary Veterans of Foreign Wars (Mary was a member)
-121 tested recipes made famous with State of Maine canned foods
-Bake shop : prize-winning recipes from Pyrofax Gas : teenage baking contest (Marie’s father sold Pyrofax – the Pyrofax Gas Corporation was located at 917 Main Street in Westbrook).
There are 7 cookbooks from the Culinary Arts Institute about sandwiches, candy, eggs, poultry/game birds, vegetables, cake, and leftovers. There is a wonderful World War II era cookbook about “How to bake by the ration books.”
Many of the books were sponsored and created by various food organizations:
-Creative cooking with cottage cheese (American Dairy Association)
-Recipes from Raisinland (California Raisin Advisory Board)
-All out for a Chick-n-que : cook out recipes (The National Broiler Council)
-Cranberry dishes that children love (National Cranberry Council)
Then there are the companies that encouraged their customers to cook or bake with ingredients that they produced, including Bisquick (Betty Crocker), Domino Sugar, Knox Gelatine Co. (“Gel-cooking recipe book”), Borden (including a label from a can of sweetened condensed milk with recipes on the verso), and Calumet Baking Powder.
Come see these colorful and nostalgic cookbooks, as we enter the holiday season of entertaining for family and friends, and spending more time indoors cooking and baking.
Located in the small exhibit case between the small meeting room and the library. Open during library hours.