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Rated: E · Non-fiction · Experience · #1344947
Family lore is precious, but accurate?

    In Upstate New York, people don't plan events around the weather.  Instead, they plan their events and then plan on the weather being bad.  The locals say there are four seasons in Upstate New York:  Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction Season -- the latter being the shortest season of all.  So when the christening date of the newest member of the family was set around Thanksgiving time, no one bothered checking the weekend weather report.  Several carloads of family members set out for the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Rome, N.Y., unconcerned about the gently falling snow.

    By the time they arrived at the church, snow had blanketed the ground.  After the ceremony, there was a lot of arm-grabbing and steadying of each other as they skated to the cars, then slowly made their way to the newly christened child's home, where a big Italian dinner celebration was planned.  The snow was falling relentlessly -- and harder now.  By the time dinner was over, the cars parked in the driveway looked like snow drifts, and it had been hours since anyone had seen a snowplow pass through.  It was evident to all, no one was leaving that night.

    Although the sleeping arrangements in the little house were cramped, it was cozy and warm, and there was a lot of whispering and laughter long into the night.  Early the next morning as she was giving her newborn a feeding, Aunt Char wondered what she was going to offer everyone for breakfast.  When she put the baby down, she threw together an old pumpkin bread recipe she already had.  The aroma of the baking bread roused the sleeping guests, drawing them to the kitchen.  The bread was such a hit that all the women present wrote the recipe down, naming it simply Rome N.Y. Recipe.  The mugs of hot coffee and warm, fresh-from-the-oven pumpkin bread shared with family, with the pristine winter wonderland outside the kitchen window, is a memory I sometimes think is my own.  I was there, but I was just one year old at the time.

    A family legend is a funny thing.  I know my family, and I think there were a lot of details left out of this account.  Forty years is long enough for a story to take on a life of its own.  But, this is the lore I was told when I was young, and it is the way I tell it to my kids.

                        Old Rome N.Y. Pumpkin Bread Recipe

(One Loaf )                                        

1¾ c. flour          
1½ c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt          
1 c. pumpkin                                        
½ c. oil
1/3 c. water                                        
2 eggs                                                  
1/3 c. chopped walnuts

Throw it all together and pour into greased and floured bread pan.  Bake in 350°F oven for 1 hour (or until knife in center comes out clean).
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