Friday, November 27, 2009


A few months ago, I heard of the "Ethnic Cookbook" (1989) from Novinger, Missouri. I had learned that the Cookbook included several Croatian Recipes, among other Ethnic Groups. I have been trying to get my hands on one ever since. In the last few days, 1 was loaned to me by a Friend. I can hardly put it down.

Novinger is along the Chariton River and about 7 miles west of Kirksville. In the early part of the 1900s, Immigrants from a variety of Nationalities were drawn to Novinger because of the burgeoning Coal Mining Industry, which alternatively must have been a roller coaster going from boom to bust and back again.

The Cookbook lists Heritages present in that small community: Irish, Scottish, German, Polish, Danish, Welch, Yugoslavian, Croatian, Austrian, Italian, French, English, Czechoslovakia, Canadian, Anglo American and others. I am stunned to think of the energy present in those earlier times in Novinger, including the Native Languages, Customs, Cultures, Dress, and Foods.

Many of those Travelers would have only recently "come off the Boat", which means they would have been in the midst of a struggle of leaving a Homeland and acclimating to one so fresh and new. I will never know completely what that struggle must have been about.

As my Grandfather Kazimir Blaskovic' made his living working in the Coal Mines, my Croatian Grandparents lived there a short time around 1910 when Aunt Mary was born. They later moved to Fraker, Iowa, which is now listed as an "Iowa Ghost Town". That's where Aunt Anna and Uncle Joe were born. By the time my Father was born in 1918, the Family had moved to the north end of Kirksville (1019 N. Centennial). However, my Grandfather continued his work as a Timberman in the Mines around Novinger (Billy Creek Mine for 1) throughout his working life.

I have been paging through this Cookbook with glee. There are indeed a number of Croatian Recipes. Some ring a "faint bell" in the deep recesses of my Brain. I really do want to begin making some of them.

Oh, how I wish that Dad was by my side. He would be there with an empty Plate and Fork or Spoon, plus a Cup of Coffee too. He would have been ready and eager to try those savory Foods his Mother would have fixed, give his Daughter and Granddaughter some much needed advice, and tell some Stories too. He likely is there right beside me, perhaps even Grandma Dora too. I must listen to the soft and gentle breezes which are guiding me on my quest.

The Copy of the Cookbook is a loaner. I am definitely seeking one for myself, and for a Croatian Friend of Dad's Vintage. I am wondering: Where will I find them?

This treasure seems a very important addition to our Library and our Skills on this Little Farm as we reclaim traditions (including Food) of Living on the Land. I could surely copy the 1 Dianthe loaned. But I would rather have 1 from the vintage produced in 1989.

As I scan the introduction, I also note reference to a 1974 Thesis at Northeast Missouri State University: The Immigrants and the Novinger Community 1900-1920, by Freedom Kline Capps. Sometime over the Winter Months, I shall have to head to the Truman State Library to browse through this one too. More adventures seem ready to unfold.

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