Cooking Outdoors? Why not Mock Turtle Soup?

Two years ago as part of our 1913 Flood centennial commemoration, we told the story of Dayton’s 1913 flood day-by-day through the diaries and letters from our collections. Among these were items from the Neukom family: letters from Edward and Nellie, which could often be “illustrated” using photographs taken by their son Everett.

One such combination involves Edward Neukom cooking on April 6, 1913, days after the flood water had receded. In part of letter to her sister, wife Nellie wrote:

…we are all three safe & well—House safe—I am tired out & Edward is cooking—Everett took a photo of him out in the yard… The natural gas is promised for tomorrow—We have had water since sat. a week ago…

This is the referenced photograph, showing Edward Neukom cooking out in their yard:

Edward Neukom cooking on his stove in the yard, April 6, 1913. Photo by Everett Neukom (ms128_3-1-11).

Edward Neukom cooking on his stove in the yard, April 6, 1913. Photo by Everett Neukom (ms128_3-1-11).

It is interesting what this photograph can show us, even though we have the letter to accompany it. We know that their natural gas is still out—the letter says so—so I think we can assume that is the main reason that Edward is cooking on a stove outside. (One might guess another possible reason is that the house is still a wreck, except we happen to know that the Neukom’s Dayton View home was not actually flooded, so their flood-related hardships and losses were considerably less than those of many others in the area.)

Edward is using a wood-burning stove, but where did it come from? Perhaps this was their old stove before they replaced it with a gas model, and it had been relegated to the garage—and hauled out to resume service for the duration of the gas outage? The pile of kindling in the background to the left, the ax on the corner edge of the stove, and what appears to be an ash bucket (or, given the absence of a shovel, perhaps a bucket of dirt for emergency fire suppression?) add to the visual story.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit in this photograph are the empty cans sitting atop the stove, which, if we zoom in on the original high resolution image, we can read:

Close-up of empty soup cans

Close-up of empty soup cans

There are two cans of Borden’s Peerless Evaporated Milk. And I think we all recognize the trademark packaging of the can in the center, even upside-down, but let’s see what it looks like right-side-up:

Close-up of soup cans, upside down

Close-up of soup cans, upside down

It’s a can of Campbell’s Mock Turtle Soup!

Now, if we didn’t already know the exact date of this photo, these cans might possibly be a useful source of helping us guess the date (in addition to the much simpler clue—what are people in the photo wearing?). You could try to research when certain products were developed, when they became available in the area, when the products were discontinued, when their packaging appeared as it does in the photo, etc. Although, come to think of it, canned goods might complicate this process, as the whole purpose of canning food is so that it stays good longer—perhaps for years after it was originally purchased.

The Borden Company has been around since the 19th century, as has the Campbell’s Soup Company. So perhaps if you needed to use these to help you date the photo, it would be most helpful to focus on the packaging itself or perhaps the time frame during which Campbell’s made and sold “mock turtle soup” (which they no longer do).

(The History Channel has a blog post about “The Rise and Fall of Turtle Soup” and why “mock turtle” soup came about.)

Something else of interest, with regard to the empty cans, is how large that stock pot is compared to the contents of the three cans he has presumably just emptied into it. Are there more empty cans somewhere that we just can’t see? Or has he added lots of water to make the soup “go farther”? (According to Nellie’s letter, their water was already up and running.) Or maybe that was just the first pot he happened upon?

And what is that in his hand? It’s not a spoon. It’s more like a stick. And what are those buckets and baskets just behind where he’s standing?

What other questions do you have about this photograph? What else can you find? What does it make you wonder about? Can you come up with any possible explanations or even guesses about your own questions or one we’ve mentioned here?

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61st OVI Merges with 82nd OVI

On March 31, 1865, the 61st OVI was consolidated with the 82nd OVI.  Robert Patterson transferred to the consolidated unit and was promoted to Captain, Company I of the 82nd OVI.

On April 26, 1865, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston signed the surrender documents for the Confederate Army of Tennessee and other miscellaneous southern troops attached to his command, at Bennett’s Place, near Durham, North Carolina to General Sherman.  The Civil War was over.

The 82nd OVI, along with the rest of Sherman’s army, marched through the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia, to Washington, D.C. where it participated in the grand review on May 24, 1865.

Robert Patterson mustered out of the 82nd OVI at Louisville, Kentucky on July 24, 1865.

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CBS Sunday Morning films David McCullough in the Archives

Today was another exciting day in Special Collections & Archives! Historian David McCullough and a crew from CBS Sunday Morning visited us  this morning to film portions of an interview set to air on May 3rd. The segment centers on Mr. McCullough’s forthcoming book, The Wright Brothers, which will be released May 5, 2015. Mr. McCullough visited us last year to conduct research for the book using our world-renowned Wright Brothers Collection.

L-R: Jon Carras (CBS producer), Mike Hill (Mr. McCullough's research assistant), Ed Chick (CBS sound), Lisa Rickey (archivist), Dawne Dewey (Head of Special Collections & Archives), Chris Wydman (archivist), David McCullough, John Armstrong (archivist), Rita Braver (CBS correspondent), Gino Pasi (archivist), Henry Bautista (CBS cameraman).

L-R: Jon Carras (producer), Mike Hill (Mr. McCullough’s research assistant), Ed Chick (sound), Lisa Rickey (archivist), Dawne Dewey (Head of Special Collections & Archives), Chris Wydman (archivist), David McCullough, John Armstrong (archivist), Rita Braver (correspondent), Gino Pasi (archivist), Henry Bautista (cameraman).

During today’s interview, Mr. McCullough discussed several items from our Wright Brothers Collection and the significance of the events they depict, in addition to telling stories and reading short passages from his book The Wright Brothers. He emphasized the importance of photographs as valuable (yet often overlooked) sources of information for historical research.

McCullough discusses a photo with correspondent Rita Braver. Also pictured: producer Jon Carras and cameraman Henry Bautista.

McCullough discusses a photo with correspondent Rita Braver. Also pictured: producer Jon Carras and cameraman Henry Bautista.

In addition to visiting us, CBS Sunday Morning has filmed McCullough at a number of other Wright Brothers sites in Dayton and elsewhere for this segment. While the content of the interview itself is certainly captivating, it was also fascinating to see first-hand how such a program is created. We are very much looking forward to seeing the finished production on May 3rd!

We were grateful that the CBS Sunday Morning crew was kind enough to allow us to take photographs during the process, and we hope that you enjoy this sneak peek at Mr. McCullough’s interview:

Dawne Dewey, Head of Special Collections & Archives, "sits in" for David McCullough before he arrives, during the equipment setup and testing.

Dawne Dewey, Head of Special Collections & Archives, “sits in” for David McCullough before he arrives, during the equipment setup and testing.

Archivist and amateur film-maker Gino Pasi was invited to take a peek at the CBS camera equipment

Archivist and amateur film-maker Gino Pasi was invited to take a peek at the CBS camera equipment. Producer Jon Carras (left) and archivist John Armstrong are in the foreground; in the background are Amanda Wright Lane (left) and Dawne Dewey, Head of Special Collections & Archives.

Our new life-size photos of Orville (left) and Wilbur Wright oversaw the proceedings. (The cutouts are from photo # ms1_23_1_22 at Bollee Gardens, 1909)

Our new life-size photos of Orville (left) and Wilbur Wright oversaw the proceedings. (The cutouts are from MS-1, photo # 23_1_22 of the Wright Brothers at Bollee Gardens, 1909.)

Dawne Dewey, Head of Special Collections & Archives, discussing with David McCullough some of the Wright materials laid out for the interview.

Dawne Dewey, Head of Special Collections & Archives, discusses with David McCullough some of the Wright materials laid out for the interview.

David McCullough, center, reviews materials, as cameraman Henry Bautista (left) and correspondent Rita Braver look on.

David McCullough, center, reviews materials, as cameraman Henry Bautista (left) and correspondent Rita Braver look on.

Watching the action unfold on the monitor.

Watching the action unfold on the monitor.

Amanda Wright Lane (left), great-grandniece of the Wright Brothers, and Dawne Dewey, Head of Special Collections & Archives. Amanda stopped by to say hello to Mr. McCullough and wish him well in today's interview.

Amanda Wright Lane (left), great-grandniece of the Wright Brothers, and Dawne Dewey, Head of Special Collections & Archives. Amanda stopped by to say hello to Mr. McCullough and wish him well in today’s interview.

Archivists Dawne Dewey and John Armstrong show David McCullough our display of the Wright Brothers' medals.

Archivists Dawne Dewey and John Armstrong show David McCullough our display of the Wright Brothers’ medals.

It really says "CBS News"! (Not that we had any doubt!)

One of the many equipment cases: it really says “CBS News”! (Not that we had any doubt!)

It was so lovely to have Mr. McCullough and the CBS crew visit us!  We hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek at the forthcoming CBS Sunday Morning interview and that you’ll tune in on May 3, 2015, to see the full program. We certainly will!

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