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Saint Gregory's Day, robins, whippoorwills, frogs, fastnachts, recipes
A handwritten letter from Esther Moser addressed to Alfred L. Shoemaker, dated March 23, 1953. Within, Moser writes on a number of subjects including bird and animal sayings, St. Gregory's Day, and recipes for dishes involving ham and dough.
Alfred L. Shoemaker
Packet 410-10b to 410-10d
March 23, 1953.
I heard your March 14th radio program, and you mentioned about the fresch calling this time of the year. My Grandparents and my pop always said if they called before Gregory Day in the calendar they would have to go back to their shelter again as many days they called before Gregory Day that many after Gregory Day. I know it holds out some years. Gregory Day is known as Yurich’s Dawg in Pa. Dutch and this year it was the 12th of March.
I was eagerly listening to hear you say something about the robin that evening, but nothing was said. We had a huckster coming to our place for eggs every week on the farm when I was a small girl, and he always asked me. Did you see a robin already? If I said yes, he asked me. Was he sitting or flying? If he was sitting you will be lazy all summer, and if he was flying you will be all right in working.
Then there is another saying about the Whipper-Will bird. When you hear him singing for the first time you get our your money bag or purse and give it a shaking, then it won’t get empty this year.
I also have a Fastnacht saying which you haven’t mentioned yet, and the huckster also teased me about it. If you don’t bake any Fastnachts today, the little chicks won’t come out. It meant if I didn’t bake doughnuts or crullers on Fastnacht day the little chicks wouldn’t come out. It is just one of these old wivwar glawva which don’t hold out anyhow.
You wrote to my pop and asked for some lore on the Gnocha-Yockel on Grabbe-Barrick. We can’t give you any we don’t know anything, and people we asked don’t either.
You also asked about the Schpeck Schneeker? We can’t give you a recipe either so far, but I have tried once, and will try some more, but how soon I get there is unknown. I’ll tell you what it is, and why it is called so. You take the very Schpecky pieces of Ham and fry them the second time in a pan and then pour some kind of a dough or knep on top of it and bake it on top of the stove. The dough or knep which ever it is should be about 2 or 2 ½ inches high. Now I don’t know how to make the dough, and neither does pop. So we first have to try it out. It is called Schpeck Schneeker because the most Schpecky piece of Ham were left lay on the plaid when ham was fried for a meal, and so when grandmother had enough of those pieces to fill a pan she then fried it again, and that made it harder and better and the dough on top also gave another taste to it, and then it was eaten.
The Pa. Dutch names for nutmeg and Baking Soda were right what you got. I was becking papa to write and tell you about the Schpeck Schneeker, and Gnocha Yockel, but he said I don’t know anything about it, or how to make it and that was the end, and so I did some writing but I haven’t told him. So I guess this is all for this time.
Box 91 Bally, Pa.
English and Pennsylvania German
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Moser, Esther, "Letter From Esther Moser to Alfred L. Shoemaker, March 23, 1953" (1953). Alfred L. Shoemaker Folk Cultural Documents. 36.
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