Throwback Thursdays #tbt #wedding – My Parents

These photos were taken on my parents’ wedding day in 1957, at the home of my maternal grandfather.  The first one, clearly discolored due to its age and the nature of the film, is of my dad and mom, and their attendants.  Dad’s best man, George Francis McGrath (1934-1960), is on the far left.  Mom’s maid-of-honor, in blue (though it’s not obvious in this photo!), was her friend Jane (Sommerfeld) Stroth (1934-2011).  Mom and Jane met in nursing school; Jane would marry Jan Sroth the following year.


Dad and George were best friends, having gone to high school together — and possibly college (?).    George later joined the military and was doing training exercises at NAS Corpus Christi — flying — when his plane crashed and he died in January 1960.  My grandfather, who was informed, chose not to tell my dad (who was studying for his doctorate up in Michigan) because Grandpa didn’t want Dad to take time away from his studies to come back to San Francisco for the funeral.   (Not cool, Gramps!  Not cool at all.)

In the photo below, it’s a bit more obvious that Jane was wearing blue — even so, the color has faded significantly since I was a child.  It used to be evident that she wore a forget-me-not blue — with matching blue shoes.


This last picture was one I had printed from a slide about 30 years ago, so the color is richer, but still fading.  I don’t know everybody in the picture, but can name some folks:


From left to right — the first 3 people I don’t know.  Wearing a navy blue dress is my grand-aunt Anita (Colbert) Foley (Dad’s maternal aunt).  Behind her is her husband “Bud” Foley.  Next to them are my dad’s parents Cassius Dempsey and Margaret (Colbert) Dempsey.  Then, my dad and my mom.  On my mom’s left, wearing a hat and flowered dress is my dad’s sister Peggy.  Next to her, in the belted dress, is my mom’s cousin Rita Diamantine.  Behind Rita to her left are maid-of-honor Jane (Sommerfeld) Stroth and best man George McGrath.

What strikes me in going through these photos is how casual it all was.  The reception is my grandparents’ backyard.  Sandwiches, punch, wedding cake, and coffee was all that was on the menu.  Contrast that today with, say, the destination wedding!  Times change, don’t they?




Aunt Nellie’s Nutmeg Coffee Cake — great for the holidays!

My mother received this recipe as part of a wedding gift from my father’s Aunt Marie, who, before she died, told me it was not her recipe but rather her Aunt Nellie’s recipe (my great-grand aunt). So it’s been in the family for a number of generations, and we love it. Typically, it’s all eaten in one day. (Which is just as well; it doesn’t taste as good reheated in the microwave.)

** Since this is a genealogy blog, alas, I can’t help but note that it turns out my grand-aunt Marie did not have an or a grand-aunt named Ellen (aka Nellie)!  She did have a sister-in-law named Nellie, and at least one cousin named Nellie.  **

So, here’s the recipe: 

2½  cups cake flour ¾ cup granulated white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar 1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
1 teaspoon salt ¾ cup vegetable oil
1 egg 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 10-cup Bundt or 9 x 2 inch square pan.  Dust the pan with flour, and shake out any excess flour.

Sift together the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, nutmeg and salt.

Combine the sifted ingredients and cooking oil in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment or use a large mixing bowl and a handheld electric mixer.  Cream the mixture at medium-low speed until it is the texture of fine crumbs.

Remove 1 scant cup of the crumb mixture and set aside.

To the remaining mixture, add the egg, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla extract.  Beat 30 seconds.  Reduce the mixer to low speed.  Add the buttermilk, mixing only for a few seconds just until blended.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread the top evenly with a spatula.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly on the top of the cake.  Place the cake on the lower oven rack and bake for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack, and cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes.

Note:  In a pinch, you can use 1 cup of milk (soured with 1 tablespoon white vinegar) if you don’t have buttermilk, but buttermilk is preferable in creating a velvety texture for the cake. And fresh ground nutmeg beats the canned or bottled stuff, hands down.

For the streusel mixture, I have found that a Kitchen Aid stand mixer is too powerful, even at the lowest speed; you won’t get the fine crumbs you need. A hand-held mixer or a fork is preferable.