A Recipe for Remembrance

This little treasure was abandoned on a dusty shelf in a thrift shop among cheap paperbacks and magazines. There was a comical sticky note on the cover which is worn and weathered red leather. The note said “belonging to an old person who liked to cook” and the price on it was 25 cents. The pages are wonderfully browned the color of coffee with cream and stuffed with old recipes in a scrapbook style, held together with a rubber band. There are mementos and clipped advertisements pressed between the pages which reveal that it was maintained sometime between the turn of the century and 1920. There is also a detached section inside made from an Excelsior exercise book dated 1901. The edges were once gilded in gold.

I wonder about the person who created it and kept it much like I keep paper journals of collage and personal notes never thinking anyone will see them. It probably never occurred to her that almost one hundred years later, someone else would find it and look at it with fascination as though a work of art.

It amazes me that a delicate personal thing like this survives for so long and finds a new audience and a purpose when many deliberate works of art from that time are long gone and forgotten. I enjoy the fanciful idea that it was a sheer act of will or a guided serendipity. It is at least a reminder that even the most ordinary and casual seeming of objects may have a path and purpose that is beyond us and surpasses our best laid plans. We do not decide what will be remembered and cherished. It’s no wonder that I find dusty old antique shops and flea markets far more interesting than museums and art galleries.