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WATCHING THE FALLING SNOW

Fall, magic snow, in great white flakes, and still;
Mantle old Mother Earth in radiant white;
Cover the sweeping plains, the valleys fill,
Crown all the hill-tops with a hazy light,
This winter’s night.

Fall, kindly words, in great heart-whispers fall;
Mantle the aching hearts, lest they increase;
Cover the wounded souls, the friendless call,
Crown all the restless with a wreath of peace,
Ere kind words cease.

James A. Ross.  1920.

SISTER MARY’S KITCHEN

[Welland Tribune November 18, 1931]

No holiday menu is complete without at least a narrow wedge of mince pie. And for meals during the entire holiday season mince pie makes an acceptable dessert. Mince meat is used to make delicious puddings.

Since mince meat improves if allowed to stand a few weeks after making and before using in pies, the foresighted housewife makes her mince meat in November to give it time to ripen. The flavors blend as in any spiced concoction and the result is an enticing mixture without any predominating flavor.

“Proper” mince meat is made with boiled cider and there are several brands of commercially prepared boiled cider on the market. However, sweet spiced vinegar from sweet pickles or a mixture of grape juice, orange juice and lemon juice can be substituted with good results. Sweet cider can be boiled with the other ingredients if it is at hand.

The modern mince meat is quite different from the concoctions of our grandmothers. Fifty years ago mince meat lived up to its name and actually was thick with meat. The old recipes or “receipts” call for a few raisins and spices to give flavor but the main ingredients were meat, suet, apples and boiled cider. Today some cooks make mince entirely without meat, using nuts, candied fruits, currants, raisins, reserves and fruit juices carefully seasoned with sugar and spices.

The following rule is a combination of the modern and old-fashioned mixture.

Mince Meat:

Two pounds lean beef,
¾ pound beef suet,
4 pounds apples,
2 pounds seeded raisins,
1 pound cleaned currants,
1 pound shredded citron,
¼ pound candied orange peel,
¼ pound candied lemon peel,
2 pounds light  brown sugar,
2 quarts sweet cider or the equivalent in fruit juices,
1 cup molasses,
1 cup meat stock,
2 tablespoons salt,
1 nutmeg grated,
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon,
1 teaspoon ground allspice,
1 cup preserved cherries or strawberries.

Any part of the beef can be used that is lean. Some people prefer the tongue to any other part. It must be boiled until very tender and carefully trimmed before chopping. Cook meat in  boiling water until tender, adding 1 ½ teaspoon salt when half done. Add water as necessary and remove scum as it rises.

When meat is tender boil rapidly to reduce stock to one cup. Let cool in stock. When cool  remove from stock and carefully trim away bits of fat, bone or gristle. Put meat through food chopper and strain stock. Mince suet, Pare core and chop apples and chop raisins. Put all ingredients except preserves into preserving kettle. Bring to the boiling point and cook over a low fire for about  two hours, stirring to prevent sticking, add preserves.

AUTUMN – A poem composed by six girls of School Section No. 6, Willoughby

[Welland Tribune, 29 September 1897]

Glorious autumn days have come,
Summer smiles are gone;
The woods are robed in varied hues,
The birds have southward flown.

Because our clime is too severe,
Therefore they hie away;
But ere they go, their sweetest notes
Gladden our autumn day.

The flowers too, died long ago;
Their fragrance we miss so oft,
But we hope next spring will bring then forth,
With their beauty, rare and soft.

New autumn joys will soon be past,
The winter will soon be here,
And we must a supply of food lay by
To keep us in good cheer.

The same as the busy little squirrel
Who gathers for winter’s food
His store of delicious hickory nuts
To feed his little brood.

So let us then improve our time,
Through every autumn day,
And thus prepare for wintry blasts,
While everything is gay.

STORY OF A MOSQUITO

[Welland Tribune, 24 September 1897]

Contributed by Grace E. Robinson, fourteen years old daughter of John Robinson, Niagara Falls, Ont., and published in the “Home Queen,” Philadelphia.

STORY OF A MOSQUITO

There once lived a mosquito,
He was an insect small
He was very light and airy,
And possessed a lot of gall.
He was known as a deep drinker,
And deeper biter, too,
And you’d feel a little itching
When he’d finished up on you.

But all men ignored his genius,
And although it was absurd,
They resented all his efforts,
And he really felt injured.
But he said, “I’ll gain my purpose,”
And he bit me on the neck,
And I felt and said I’d like to
Break his naughty little back..

At this he thought he’d better
Beat a pretty swift retreat,
And accordingly he stretched his wings
And soon dislodged his feet.
Bit I caught him while escaping,
(What I did you may surmise),
They buried him at 2 p.m.,
In a Fairview grave he lies.

KEEP A GOIN’

[Welland Tribune 6 August 1897]

If you strike a thorn or rose,
Keep a goin’.
If it hails or if it snows,
Keep a goin’.
Tain’t no use to set an whine
When the fish ain’t on your line,
Bait your hook and keep on tryin,’
Keep a goin’.

When the weather kills your crops,
Keep a goin’
When you tumble from the top,
Keep a goin’
S’pose your out’ o’ every dime,
Gettin’ broke ain’t any crime;
Tell the world your feelin’ prime.
Keep a goin’.

When it looks like all is up,
Keep a goin’.
Drain the sweetness from your cup,
Keep a goin’
See the wild birds on the wing,
Hear the bells that sweetly sing,
When you feel like sighin’ sing,
Keep a goin’.

Autumn Poem

The pumpkin’s lookin’ yellow,
And the buckwheat’s in the shock,
The blackbirds float across the sky
An hundred in a flock;
The clover fields are turnin’ gray,
The trees seem brown and sere,
The summertime is dyin’
And the winter’s creepin’ near;
Across the sea our soldier boys
Are fightin’ brave and bold–
I’m prayin God will shield them from the cold.

The black squirrel’s skippin’ round the tree,
And storin’ up his food,
The sky is lookin’ checkered
And reflects a stormy mood;
The muskrat’s buildin’ high and dry,
A thick-walled winter nest,
And the sun is droppin’ early
‘Neath the snowclouds of the west;
And over there our bravest boys
Are winnin what they’ll hold–
I’m prayin God will shield them from the cold.

The coon is stealin’ all the corn
To fill his hollow log,
The wild goose honks across the sky,
Before the frosty fog;
A snowflake’s fallin here and there,
The wind is blowin chill,
And the angry winter’s comin’
To frost the plain and hill;
The Pride of Canada is there,
The white sheep of the fold–
I’m prayin’ God will shield them from the cold.

Canada First and other poems by James A. Ross, 1920.

THE FROG HATCHERY

[Welland Telegraph, 18 September 1891]

There’s a hole filled with bull frogs galore
Just east of the Red Rocker furniture store
Where pollywogs thrive
And good citizens strive
Some plan to contrive
To keep the foul smell from their houses
Which the breeze o’er the frog pond arouses.

Filled with rubbish, and dirt, and old bones
Rags and tin cans, a few bricks and stones
Its water grow thick
Till the smell makes you sick
And you pass by it quick
Heave a sigh of relief as you strike the fresh air
Away from the fumes of the pollywogs’ lair.

It’s bad for the health of those who live near
It keeps them from sleep and diseases they fear
Go by when you please
One whiff of the breeze-
Whew! Limburger cheese!
Put a cork in your nose, give the place a wide berth
And make up your mind it’s the worst spot on earth.

Frog Hatchery -by- "B"

Its fame has gone forth through the land
The stale, heavy odor is always at hand
Till you close up your smeller
And swear at the “feller”
Who owns the old cellar
And vow if you had him-the man of such riches
You’d dump him right into it, body and breeches.

It’s a boon to the doctors and vendors of pills
For it adds a big chunk to their customers’ bills
The waters are green
With diseases they team
Till it’s well to be seen
That with typhoid and ague it’s filled to the top
That foul smelling hole on the old vacant lot.

Complaints had been made without number
Till the council woke up from their slumber
Then aldermen wise
With opening eyes
Paid heed to the cries
Of the public which turned up its suffering nose
And threatened such wanton neglect to expose.

The owners were told of its horrible state
And warned to get on to a good lively gait
And fill up the place
That was a menace
To the whole human race
Or the laws of the land would be brought into use
To compel them to drain off that hole full of juice.

The summer is over and still it remains-
No pen can describe the filth it contains-
So now, Mr. Mayor
To make the thing square
Rise up and declare
That the hole shall be filled and no time be lost
And the owners charged up with the whole of the cost.

SIGNS OF SPRING

[Canada First and other poems by James A Ross. 1920. Page 50.]

The sap is runnin’ from the tree,Spring Workshop -by- "B"
The crow is cawin’ loud
The sky is dancin’ bright and blue
And scatterin’ every cloud;
The bumble bees are buzzin’ round,
The air is like a dream;
We’ll soon be catchin’ catfish
From the old mill-stream.

The blackbird’s pourin’ forth his song,
The frog is croakin’ gay,
The robin flies from tree to tree
And pipes his merry lay;
The speckled hen is cacklin’ loud,
The sun sets pink and cream;
We’ll soon be catchin  catfish
From the old mill-stream.

The grass is springin’ fresh and green,
The tree-buds shootin’ out,
The blue-bells and the daisies
Are poppin’ all about;
The brook is tumblin’ o’er the rocks,
Its spray a silvery gleam;
We’re pullin’ out the catfish
From the old mill-stream.

THANKSGIVING MORN

By James A. Ross

Let all our voices ring with praise
To Him from whom all blessings flow.
Join in with harp, and may all strains
In one Thanksgiving chorus grow.
Give thanks for sunshine’s azure sky
Scarce e’er destroyed by storm king’s blast;
For memories dear, whose golden chain
Links present family to the past.
Give thanks for all the bounteous wealth
Of harvest gathered o’er the world:
For peace within our native land,
And Freedom’s ensign still unfurled.
Give thanks for wealth, for health, for life,
For ever blessing, great or small.
Praise Him in thought, in word, in deed;
The precious fountain of them all.

Taken from “Canada First and other poems by James A. Ross, 1920“

TWO CHRISTMAS GIFTS

A Pair of Convict’s Trousers and a Live Turkey

[The following is the last article which Mr. Field wrote for publication]

[People’s Press, 27 December 1898]

During the entire period of my connection with The Chicago News it was the benevolent custom of the proprietors of that paper to give a turkey to all their married employees at Christmas time. When the Christmas season came one year, I found that turkeys had palled upon me, and I thought I would rather have a pair of pants. I therefore sent a polite little note to Editor-in-Chief Stone, saying that if it was all the same to him I would take a pair of pants instead of a turkey for a Christmas gift, as my soul felt no longing for a turkey, but sighed for pants.

Now, Editor Stone was a bit of a joker in his way, and, liking the modest tone of my petition, he obtained from the warden of the penitentiary at Joliet a pair of striped pants such as are worn by the convicts in that institution. On Christmas eve the package containing them was sent to me with the best Christmas wishes of the concern, just as the turkey had always been. Editor Stone and the entire writing and business force, whom he had taken into his confidence, thought they had played a splendid practical joke. I turned the laugh on them, however, by donning the pants the next morning and wearing them constantly every day for a week, expressing my gratitude for them, and telling everybody about the office that I never had a pair I liked so well and that thenceforward I would wear no other kind.

When the next Christmas came I again addressed a polite little  note to editor Stone, stating that I did not care for the mere corpse of a turkey, but preferred to have one animated by a soul, or in other words a live one, in order that I might keep it in my yard for a pet. On Christmas eve I was sitting at my desk when suddenly I heard what the classics call “a strong noise” above my head, and down came a bouncing big turkey over the partition dividing the editorial rooms. The bird gave abundant evidence that he was strongly endowed with life, and there could be no question that my desires had been gratified, and that I was at last the proud possessor of a live turkey. I did not want him in my room just then, so with great presence of mind I leaped upon my desk and “shooed” the bird out of my room. He went flapping, jumping, gobbling all through the editorial and reportorial rooms, knocking down ink-bottles, scattering and destroying copy, overturning and breaking the shades on the drop lights, and doing many dollars’ worth of damage. At length, after a long and exciting chase, the entire editorial and reportorial force, with the single exception of myself, succeeded in capturing the bird. Thus I once more secured the laugh on my associates, and after that no further attention was paid to my petitions at Christmas time.

Eugene Field

2 September 1850-4 November 1895