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By April 23, 2021 Read More →

Back in Time for Lunch with Eleanor Roosevelt

Back in Time for Lunch with Eleanor Roosevelt

While browsing through the 1936 issues of the Transcript, I came across a blurb about Eleanor Roosevelt driving through New Hampshire

Eleanor Roosevelt behind the wheel of an open roadster

Eleanor Roosevelt loved to drive and often acted as her own chauffeur. She is seen here with her friend Nancy Cook leaving for a vacation in May 1933.

and stopping in Peterborough. That got me thinking about how I would have entertained Eleanor if I had the opportunity to meet her.

Here’s what we know…

Eleanor Roosevelt was probably one of the most well-known of all our country’s First Ladies. Due to Franklin Roosevelt’s physical limitations, she was often her husband’s eyes and ears as she traveled around the country during his 1933–1945 presidency.

One of Eleanor’s trips took her and her assistant, Mrs. Schneider, to Concord, NH, on April 27, 1936, where she spoke to students at St. Paul’s School. I’m sure part of the reason the school was able to persuade her to make the trip was that two of the students she would be addressing were her nephews, Henry and Daniel Roosevelt.

On the morning of April 28, 1936, Eleanor and Mrs. Schneider headed out of Concord in their open roadster, traveling south on Route 202.Newsclipping reporting Mrs. Roosevelt's stop in Peterborough All went well until they reached Peterborough and discovered the Grove Street Bridge was closed, due to the damage it had received during the disastrous flood that had occurred the previous month. Eleanor turned her big roadster around and headed to the corner of Grove and Main Streets, where she pulled in front of Cass’s Store to ask someone for an alternative route to reach Fitchburg, MA. (Her Peterborough detour was not the first one she had encountered on this trip. The Flood of ’36 caused much damage in March 1936, closing many highways and bridges in the area for months.)

Here’s what I imagine…

Imagine that it is close to lunchtime and Eleanor asks me for directions. (Thank heavens this part is fictional because I’m terrible at giving directions!) And somehow I convince Eleanor and Mrs. Schneider to join me for lunch. What do I serve them?

The country was in a period of rationing and making do. The Roosevelts wanted to set a good example by living like everyone else. So nothing elaborate on the menu. I know Eleanor liked scrambled eggs, as she made and served them from a chafing dish on most Sunday evenings when she was home. And hot dogs were a favorite, as we remember she even served those to the King and Queen of England upon their visit to her home at Val-Kill Cottage. But I think my famous guests might have also enjoyed some fried scrapple and sautéed
apples for lunch. It was a frugal yet tasty meal.

I’m sure during our luncheon Eleanor would have questions for me about ways the town was dealing with shortages, and more than likely she would ask my opinion on the ways women could move into roles formerly filled by men. I’m also quite sure she would have made me feel her equal.

Here’s what we ate...

Fried Scrapple

Click for the recipe

Next week we will be Back in Time for Dinner with Ralph Waldo Emerson!


Lorraine, the Monadnock Center's Resident Culinarian  

Lorraine Walker is the Monadnock Center’s resident culinarian. When she isn’t serving up tasty treats from the Phoenix Mill House hearth, she can be found poring over historic cookbooks and local history documents in the archives.