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Eastern Star Menus

February 21st, 2012 · 4 Comments

The Ullage Group has long been fascinated by changing customs in diet.  Foods go in and out of fashion; what we eat is telling.

I have here two menus from meetings of the Order of the Eastern Star, both from September 1950, both from Connecticut.  The Eastern Star was founded as an order for wives and sisters of Freemasons, and later developed into a more independent organization, with co-ed membership, although still geared to women.  And what did they eat when they gathered?

Our first menu is from the Official Visitation of Mrs. Eleanor K. Lewis, Associate Grand Matron, and her Associate Grand Officers, to the Evergreen Chapter No. 22.  The event took place September 21, 1950, at the Masonic Temple in Naugatuck, Connecticut.

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Our second menu is from a week later, September 28, 1950.  This event marked the Official Visit of Mrs. Martha P. Williams, Worthy Grand Matron, and her Associate Grand Officers, to the Good Will Chapter No. 112, of Waterbury, Connecticut.  There was also a reception in honor of Mrs. Mildred R. Wright, Grand Organist; the proceedings again took place in the local Masonic Hall.

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(Parenthetically, I’ll note that Miss Alice Drescher played marimba selections.  I wish I attended dinners with marimba selections.)

The menus are staunchly Anglo-American, with no influence from Continental Europe (and certainly nothing Mediterranean), South America, Asia, or Africa.  The only exotic touch is the pineapple, here combined with cabbage, which is a combination I’ve never tried.   The only beverages mentioned are coffee and “tomato juice cocktail.”  I suspect the latter contained no alcohol, but that’s just a guess.  I also guess there was no wine.

There’s nothing about the selections that seems particularly suitable to a “secret society”; in fact, they’re probably typical of the regular diet of middle-class white Connecticut in 1950.  Which is, of course, what interests me.  Would such a gathering today include more “ethnic” food?  Would it include pasta, guacamole, spinach pie?

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: Clubs and Associations · Dietary Mores · Ephemera

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Winston // Feb 28, 2012 at 3:56 am

    I just had a look at some contemporary masonic menus offered by a UK catering company called Food4Thought and aside from from a solitary item involving lasagne, there did not appear to be anything that would have been out of place in 1960.

    I love the names of the ladies sitting down to eat at these functions, particularly Arthurine and Myrle. These, it seems to me, may be more indicative of secret-society propensities than buttered beans or sherbet.

  • 2 Doug // Feb 28, 2012 at 11:17 am

    The names on these Eastern Star documents (I have a stack of them) are wonderful. I was particularly struck by the Grand Matron and Patron, Grace B. Grindal and Milo D. Wilcox. Middle initials seem less popular these days. Elizabeth Paradise, too, sounds like a nice person.

    I don’t think the menus are indicative of secret societies, particularly; more of 1950 Connecticut formal dining.

  • 3 Jack // Feb 1, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    My parents were members of Goodwill Chapter OES at the time of that menu and I recognize a number of the women’s names. Particularly Mrs. Emma Clements… She was a perennial of the “supper committee and famous for her Goodwill Salad, a coleslaw. It was the best I’ve ever tasted and I sure wish I could find a recipe for it.

    The menu was typical of that for a large formal dinner for a special event helb by an organization such as Goodwill Chapter OES.

    Any help with the recipe would be appreciated.

  • 4 Doug // Feb 1, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Nice to hear from you! I hope this brings back memories. I’ve seen a couple of cookbooks published by the OES; they had a number of interesting recipes. I’m afraid I don’t have Mrs. Clements’s coleslaw recipe, but I hope you find it.

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