Guest Post: Ancestors in Aprons

This guest post is from Vera Marie Badertscher and comes from her website Ancestors in Aprons. Thank you, Vera, for this wonderful post and the memories it evoked for Killbuck, Ohio folks! 

That big picture across the head of this website? That’s my grandfather Guy Anderson at the family restaurant.

My grandparents created a restaurant where they served up home-cooked food in grandma’s ancestral home in Killbuck, Ohio. Here is a more complete image so you can see some of the signs and paraphernalia. That’s the kitchen viewed dimly through the door on the left.

Anderson family restaurant

That’s my grandfather Guy Anderson, my grandmother Vera Anderson, and their two helpers, Mrs. Lanham and Miss Leckrone at the family restaurant.

The picture was taken around 1940, but I don’t know exactly when the family restaurant started. I do know that it had closed down by about 1944, because my grandfather, whom I called Daddy Guy, had heart trouble and could not work any more. He died in the summer of 1944 when he was 65 years old of an ailment that could probably have been fixed with a bypass or medication today.

It took me a while to figure out how that restaurant was laid out in the big old house that had been built by Vera’s father, Dr. William Stout, in the 1880s. But my cousin, Herbert Anderson, comes to the rescue when I have questions.  Herb is only a few years older than I, so he was young and doesn’t remember a whole lot, but he did straighten me out about the layout of the restaurant within the big old house. I’ll relate some of his other stories later.

I do know that more than ten years after the family restaurant closed, people would sometimes stop at my grandmother’s home. She lived in one side of the downstairs (the kitchen– see above through the doorway– had become her bedroom), and she rented out the other side and the top floor.

A few times when I was growing up, my family lived in one of those apartments for a short time. People driving through Killbuck, Ohio, before State Route 62 bypassed the community would knock on the door and ask what happened to the family restaurant that used to be there.

“Too bad,” they’d say when informed the restaurant no longer existed. “We always looked forward to stopping here when we were on the road.” Now that sounds like a GOOD FOOD restaurant.

I wish I had the sign from out front, or even a picture of the front of the house when it was a restaurant. Maybe there was no sign. Maybe there was no name (FLASH! Because the Facebook page Our Town: A Holmes County History Project published several Killbuck High School yearbooks, I learned that Anderson’s Restaurant did have a name (That’s it–Anderson’s Restaurant). And we now know at least that it was in business in 1937). And since Grandma was never one to keep old things around, I also have no menus, Coca-Cola signs, salt shakers, ice cream chairs, or any of the other fascinating things they used in the restaurant. I vaguely remember seeing some wire-backed ice cream chairs down in the basement of her house, but heaven knows what happened to them.

Grandma is not wearing an apron in the picture, not because she didn’t cook. She definitely was a fantastic cook and probably made all the Blue Plate Special lunches like roast beef, or ham steak, or pork chops with cooked apples (the last dish she prepared for us before she made her last trip to the hospital with heart trouble of her own).

Grandpa, on the other hand, made the biscuits and the pies. Grandma was fastidious about her appearance always. So I can imagine that when the traveling photographer came around to take pictures of the family restaurant, she did not want to be seen in an apron like one of the hired help.

Baking Christmas Cookies

Wearing Grandma Vera’s apron while baking her cookie recipe.

Grandma definitely did wear aprons when she cooked–many she made herself from flour sacks, and at least one I still have in my kitchen drawer. Hundreds of washings have worn the material as soft as the flour that coats it during baking. My youngest granddaughter wears my Grandma Vera’s aprons when she comes over to bake cookies with me.

See more memories about the restaurant here from Herb Anderson.

Pork Chops and Apples

Pork Chops and Apples

 Grandma’s Pork Chops with Cooked Apples (from memory)

  • Six loin pork chops
  • Fat for frying, add extra butter for the apples.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Two or three apples, peeled and sliced about 1/4 ” thick
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon

Melt a spoonful of fat in an iron skillet and brown the pork chops. Salt and pepper the chops. Remove the pork chops and keep warm, while you brown the apples long enough to soften (Add butter if you need to). Sprinkle the apples with sugar and cinnamon to taste and serve on top of chops. Note: Don’t come to Vera’s kitchen looking for health-food recipes. Grandma liked plenty of butter, salt, and sugar.

Did you know that flour used to come in cloth bags covered with pretty prints, and that our frugal ancestors made those bags into dresses, blouses, pillow covers and aprons? Do you have a flour-sack something in your house?

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