by Jerry Kasperek
Who remembers drinking Switchel? Dick Cronk does. It’s a homemade, hot weather thirst-quencher he drank as a teenager when he worked at the Mangeot farm off Hannibal Street.
Dick is a classmate of mine from Good Old Fulton High’s Class of 1951. He had read my last column about local dairies and called me up to fill me in a little about the Mangeots.
There was Joe Mangeot, the farmer, and his maiden sisters Helen and Katherine (or Kathryn or Catherine? I don’t know the correct spelling), one of whom was a teacher at either Erie or Oak Street Schools. (If you know please let me know.) In any case, Dick said it was Helen who made the drink.
Chuck VanBuren worked there as well. He was only 13 or 14, Dick said. They’d bale hay and put it on a wagon with two teams of horses and a man by the name of Amos drove the teams. They’d take the bales to the barn, which was “way out back,” and put it on the conveyer to the hayloft. “The hayloft was hotter than hell!” Dick said. That’s when Switchel tasted so good.
He asked me if I remember “raw” milk which he also liked to drink, cold and by the glassful, and I said yes.
Dick cleaned the cow barn at Mangeots. He said Joe brought the milk to Triangle Dairy (the Stowell family farm) out in Granby to have it processed. That farm was in the triangle where Route 176 and the Gifford Road meet. That’s how it got its name.
Saturday mornings were fun, he said. Joe took him on their milk route and stopped at the South Fifth Street grocery store and bought a box of sugar cookies to eat with their cold milk. Some of the houses they delivered to they’d walk right in and put the bottles of milk in the refrigerator. Today, he remarked, “You can’t even find an unlocked door.”
Dick’s companion Marlene supplied us with the recipe for Switchel as follows: 2 quarts of water; 3/4 cup of sugar; 4 tablespoons vinegar; 1 teaspoon ginger. Mix, stir, and drink.
“It aint’t the best tasting stuff,” Dick said, “Not bad, though: Better than ice water.”
Gerry Garbus called out of the blue a few weeks ago just to say hi. I hadn’t talked to her in ages. She and I go back to our North Sixth Street days when we were young mothers.
My grandparents, Ralph and Edna McKinney, lived on the corner of North Sixth and Seward streets and her grandfather Rex Carvey lived kitty-corner. Gerry and her husband, Fred, rented an apartment there and I’d walk by pushing a baby carriage and we’d sit and chat.
Gerry has three sons, is a great-grandmother, and still lives “out in the sticks, halfway between” Fulton and Hannibal,” she said.
Her husband Fred has been deceased for 15 years. I first knew her as one of the Carvey girls with sisters Joyce, Judy and Joan.
Gerry (or Jerry spelled with a J — she answers to either) is a tad bit older than me, while Joyce (wife of the late Floyd Boynton) was in my high school class.
Next came Judy, who passed away a few years ago. Then Joan, the youngest and the newest to become a widow, was married to Bill Frawley. (Sorry Joan, he was a nice guy. Life is a bummer sometimes.) Anyway, Gerry sounded just as perky and interesting as always
Out of the blue, they come, those phone calls I get from hither and yond and a couple of months ago I received a call from a nice lady by the name of Jean Beals, someone I had heard about but really wasn’t acquainted with.
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