Friday Flashback #83

Buell Neidlinger — longtime “06880” reader and commenter/Westport native/world-renowned musician/all-around good guy — died last week. He was 82 years old.

Three days before his sudden death, he emailed me a suggestion for a Friday Flashback.

He sent a few pages from an old cookbook he’d found. “The New Connecticut Cookbook, Being a Collection of Recipes from Connecticut Kitchens” was compiled by the Woman’s Club of Westport, and illustrated by Connecticut artists. It belonged to his mother.

Buell’s pages did not include a publication date. But — judging from the car in the illustration, which may or may not be parked on a stylized version of Main Street — it was early in the papacy of Pope Pius XII.

Why that example? Because the preface (below), by literary critic/ biographer/historian Van Wyck Brooks — a Westport resident — notes that as Cardinal Pacelli, “the present Pope has been a visitor here.” Pius XII was Pope from 1939 to 1958.

Brooks mentions two other famous visitors to Westport, separated by more than a century: the French gastronome Jean Anthelem Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), and Luigi Pirandello. The Italian writer and poet attended a performance at the Westport Country Playhouse. That was sometime between 1931 — when the summer theater opened — and 1936, when Pirandello died.

The pages that Buell sent are fascinating. Then again, everything he did for “06880” was.

This one’s for you, good friend.

14 responses to “Friday Flashback #83

  1. Connie Holberg

    Librarian to the rescue. According to OCLC WorldCat this cookbook was published in 1947.

  2. Sally Palmer

    So sorry about Mr. Neidlinger, I always enjoyed his posts. That book looks fascinating! Wonder if there is any way to get a copy…?? I have a local cookbook from WW II.

  3. Sylvia Robinson Corrigan

    I think the view is indeed on the Post Road – looking toward the hill where the Saugatuck Congregational Church was before it was moved to the other side of the street. The brick building is an interpretation of the building where the Restoration Hardware now is. I don’t think there was a grocery there – so maybe that was imported from Main.

  4. Connie Holberg

    Actually there are several used copies on sale from Amazon. One bookseller’s description reads “It’s like the New Yorker of cookbooks! Greatest cartoonists and sketch artists, printmakers of the day plus famous CT residents like Clare Booth Luce and Edna Ferber contributed recipes! Lovely to look at, and the picture it presents of post-WW2 cooking amid celebrities nestled in the countryside is fascinating. Shades of EB White here.”

  5. I have written frequently about the Westport Woman’s Club. But I would take issue with your statement that “they are less about charity than they are about socializing.” Check out this piece:

    Or this:

  6. I seem to remember my mom having a copy of this cookbook — copies floated around Westport in the 60’s as I remember. Maybe publish some old fashioned recipes from it from time to time. That would be a great Friday Flashback.

  7. “The Woman’s Club of Westport.” Where did that name come from?

    In 1907 twenty women formed the Westport Town Improvement Association (WTIA), and raised $600 to fund Westport’s first sidewalks. In 1938 the WTIA incorporated as the Westport Woman’s Club, which continues today to quietly raise thousands of dollars each year to fund projects to improve Westport.

  8. Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

    Connie, thank you for dating the cookbook. Looking at the illustration I would have said it was before Saugatuck Congregational church was moved across the road to its present location. I have a copy of the Westport Woman’s Club Cookbook, perhaps the one Connie mentions above. It has a blue paper cover and illustrations from many of Westport’s famous artists. There are recipes from many Westport residents who’s names would still be recognized today. There is at least one from Clare Booth Luce. One difference in the one I have is that there are recipes that mention cooking under the restrictions placed on many ingredients during WWII. If I was at home I would scan some of the pictures and check to see if there is a publication date. I wish I could share and compare with Buell and his wife. I’ll be happy to share and compare with you and everyone else Dan.

  9. Luisa Francoeur

    I have the exact same cookbook! Mine is the second printing; the next page shows a copyright of 1943. The Editorial Foreword says that “The first Connecticut Cookbook was assembled by the Westport Woman’s Club as a contribution to American cooking in wartime….The gratifying success of that cookbook has encouraged us to prepare a new book….” There is also a list of all the artists who contributed to the cookbook.

  10. Luisa Francoeur

    “The Woman’s Club of Westport”

  11. Judy Richmond Staples "49

    I have a treasured copy in my bookcase with my mother’s hand written notes. She was a member of the Westport Women’s Club. I knew several of the artists and those who contributed recipes.