My aunt has been downsizing for a move and during the process, she found this recipe book I gave her for Christmas one year. I made the recipe books with my grade three class. We put them together as a fundraiser for the Junior Red Cross. I was curious about the Junior Red Cross and found out it was an international organization for kids that operated in conjunction with the Red Cross from 1919 to 1980.
Initially, they raised funds for nurseries for war orphans but during the late 1950s and early 1960s when my grade three class was involved, much of the money Canadian school children raised went to the Crippled Children’s Fund to pay for medical treatment for children in each province with physical disabilities. Remember this was a time when the polio vaccine was just starting to be used and there was no universal health care. My grade three teacher Mrs Kihn had obviously enrolled our class in the charitable efforts of the Junior Red Cross and selling our recipe books was a fundraiser. I can’t recall how much we charged for each book but I certainly remember making them. It was a long tedious process.
We put two little balls of plasticine on our desks and stuck a pencil in each one. Then we slid first the back cover, and then each of the forty-five pages of the book and the front cover one by one over the pencils which had been placed exactly the right distance apart. When we were done our teacher carefully slid the compiled recipe books off the pencils and inserted the plastic rings to hold them together. I think we each made five books to sell and let me tell you it took a long time. We had obviously brought recipes from home that our mothers had written out and sent along with us to school. At age eight I’d certainly never made sweet and sour spareribs and I am sure little Herby Peters who went on to become the managing partner of a large Winnipeg law firm had never made date cake. Our teacher Mrs Kihn must have typed all those recipes onto mimeograph sheets and copied them all on an old Gestetner machine. Then she will have cut them apart with a paper cutter and punched holes in each sheet. A laborious task indeed! And there were forty children in our class who each made five recipe books. That’s 200 hundred recipe books Mrs. Kihn prepared for us to put together.
Mrs Kihn went to great lengths to help her students become civic-minded young people who were motivated to help others. I don’t think I fully appreciated that when I was sliding all those pages over the pencils on the second floor of the old Kornelson School in Steinbach. Now I do!