The Price family in the 1880s. From left to right: Mary “Pearl” Price, John Preston Price, Eliza Ellen [Cook] Price, and Lilly Catherine Price. Photograph from Sandra [Hunt] Alger.
Is that a cool picture or what? I’m not sure I would have believed that the 1800s actually existed if not for this family photo (I don’t believe everything I read). And now, here they are, just thrilled to be on the Internet.
I was trying to envision what the photographer had said to them right before snapping this photo:
Him: Okay, big smiles, everyone. Say Muenster cheese…
Them: … (no smiles, only dour expressions)
Him: It’s okay, no one’s looking. You can smile a little. Someday, your picture is going to be up for the whole WORLD to see.
Them: … (only looks of suspicion)
Him: You’re right. Let’s not overestimate her readership. Five people will see it. Maybe six. But, not even a teensy-weensy hint of a smile for your descendants whose pampered lives are the result of your relentless toiling?
Them: … (utter disgust, girl on right shakes head)
Him: Yeah, I hear you. Screw ‘em. (snap)
Anyway, the little girl on the left was my great-great-grandmother, Pearl Price. Mary was her given name, but her father always called her “my pearl,” so that’s what she went by. She was born in 1879 to Eliza Ellen [Cook] and John Preston Price. The name Price was anglicized from Preisch, and the family was traced back to Offenbach, Germany (just across the river from Frankfurt).
The first Preisches had arrived in Philadelphia in 1738, traveled south, and then eventually settled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia (not far from the West Virginia line). Pearl and her family lived in the area now known as Price’s Fork, just outside Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech campus.
Most of my early recipes are from Pearl’s daughters, Ethel (my great grandmother) and Claribel. A lot of them are just methods, without specific amounts or any of the exhaustive detail we’ve come to expect in a recipe. I get the impression people didn’t have much time for measuring back then, what with all the endless chores. Boy, was I born at the right time.
And speaking of lazy, I said I’d have a recipe for you today, but look, we’re out of time. Next week, I swear.