Let me tell you about my strawberry jam making back in the summer of 1945. But, first some background. It was a bright sunny Saturday morning, and my parents had just left to attend the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis in Milwaukee. They walked to the bus stop at the corner, took a city bus to West Racine, where they boarded the North Shore train for a 30-minute ride to Milwaukee where they took a streetcar ride for the half-dozen or more mile ride to West Allis. The occasion:. My Mom and Dad were off on a day-long trip as part of the celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary (they were married on July 5, 1920). This was big event because my Dad rarely took Mom anywhere, partly because we had not owned a car since probably 1942 when the 1932 DeSoto became a victim of a World War II scrap metal drive. In Milwaukee streetcars still ruled the streets and were heavily used because no new cars had been produced since 1941. In addition, during the war we had gasoline rationing that limited how much driving could be done. Because of the tremendous need for transportation to work and to downtown shopping, buses came and went very regularly and quite frequently to accommodate the many riders It was not until the late 1950's that the streetcar systems in the large cities were replaced by buses, partly on the grounds that the streetcars slowed auto traffic that was now booming with the renewal of auto production right after the end of World War II. But, back to the canning adventure now that you all know something about transportation during and after World War II.
Not long after my parents departed a local farmer who raised lots of strawberries arrived with one crate of fresh strawberries my mother had ordered to make strawberry jam. As I recall, the crate contained 16 one-quart boxes of strawberries. I could see immediately that the berries were ripe and needed to be canned right away rather than having them wait until the next morning when Mom would be back. I realized my 85 year-old grandmother and I would have to get busy with the canning.
My grandmother immediately volunteered to help if I decided to go ahead and make the jam. I had never done this before but had seen my Mother doing the canning in prior years. Fortunately, we had a number of half-quart jars in the fruit cellar and everything else what we needed.
So, we began the laborious job of cutting out the stems of the strawberries so we could proceed. I don't recall what other operations were required. The cleaned berries had to be cooked, the jars sterilized, and then filled with the jam. I think we had to add sugar, pektin(?) and perhaps something else to make sure the jam became jam rather than jelly. After completing that operation, we had to fill the jars and after that pour a layer of melted parrafin over the top of each jar to preserve the jam. We were just finishing up when my parents arrived home about 8 pm. They had had a good time at the Fair and mentioned some of the highlights. My Mom was especially pleased that grandma and I had taken on the strawberry jam canning project. Through the coming winter I took more than usual pleasure in putting jam on my bread and relishing its great taste.
Ah, the benefits of helping both myself and the rest of the family.
About the Author
At age 92 I decided to showcase my recent and current writings on a variety of topics outside of my career interests as an economist. My wife Sally’s dementia, my experiences of war, and my interests in improving higher education all compel me to write.
For most of the last decade I maintained a low profile, necessitated by my wife Sally's suffering from a decade-long siege of vascular dementia. After she passed away several years ago I wrote about our experience, in the belief that this would be helpful to the many others who suffer from dementia and their family caregivers. I am currently seeking a publisher for my book manuscript: The Forgotten: Dementia and the Right to Die.
Over the past few years I began working on several other writing projects that are described more fully elsewhere in my blog. These include a nearly-completed book manuscript on my "expected proficiencies approach to the college major'' as a vehicle for reinvigorating liberal education. I continue to write on the shortcomings of UW-Madison's affirmative action policies and programs that over the years have been renamed "diversity and inclusion" policies and programs.
Within two weeks of my graduation from UW-Madison in June 1950, the Korean War broke out. I was drafted and expected to be sent to Korea to join our fighting forces there. But instead I was sent to Turkey for 18 months. How lucky I was. I am also writing a memoir of my Korean War military experience when I served as an U.S. Army adviser in our military aid program in Turkey.
Until I began branching out beyond economics, I failed to realize what a profound effect the Great Depression and World War II had on me as I grew up. I have already captured some of these recollections, with more of them to follow.
With that introduction, I turn you over to my blog entries as well as my other writing projects described more fully elsewhere in my blog. Best wishes ~ W. Lee Hansen
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Award-winning author W. Lee Hansen, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Full bio.