Well, you know I thought I’d have a bit of a rest once my book proposal was in. NOT! Now I have to start testing the recipes that I’ve included in the book. Oh, the book. . .you probably want to know more about it.
It’s called (unless upon acceptance they change the title on me!) Melting Pot: Memories and Recipes From a Steel Town. You see, I grew up in a suburb of a big steel making center, in a neighborhood where you could play out of doors all summer and not come home until the street lights were on. Where ever you were at 5 pm is where you ate dinner. If you were playing at your house with friends, then they stayed to dinner there.
The ethnic variety of our neighborhood included Polish, Hungarian, Croatian, Ukrainian, Serbian and Italian families. All of these countries were at one time at war with one another in Europe, but all that was forgotten in my old neighborhood. It is called Parkwood and, it was an amazing place to be a kid.
One of my earliest memories is visiting our neighbor Marie or “The Serb” as my father called her. She had no children and I think she enjoyed my company. I happened to run my finger across a windowsill in her house and when I raised my hand to look at it, my finger was black with soot. When I asked Marie why my finger was black, she just looked at me very seriously and said, “That means men are working.” And it did. All of our fathers worked in some capacity in the mills and when the mills were booming, the dust and ash that was spewed from the blast furnaces coated everything with a fine, black dust. The women of Parkwood prided themselves on being immaculate housekeepers. It was as though by cleaning the soot away, they could see the future, when their men did not have to go into dangerous working conditions, day after day. That day came in the mid-1970s. All of the mills closed within hours of each other, the men were sent home and the silence was deafening.