“Elsie’s Mountain”- Memories of Palomar & Southern California 1897- 1987

28 Sep

Available from Amaon or my website, starting Oct 18th.

Available from Amazon or my website, starting Oct 18th.

Many have asked to hear more of Elsie. Here is the rest of the story; it will be available Oct.18th. Watch for news about free shipping during November.
Here is an excerpt from her story about the British cooks that Jack particularly liked to hire. I must have heard her tell this story hundreds of times. She never failed to giggle while explaining about this British cook.

Hired Help at Planwydd
Mountain life, during 1918-1924, seemed wilder and more isolated than today. One cook was with us only a few days.
“I’d stay if there was only a movie up here,” she explained, “or sidewalks, so I could go for a walk.”
Usually Jack hired all help through a San Diego employment agency—apple pickers as well as a summer cook and waitresses who also served as chambermaids.
Altogether, during those five years on the apple-ranch, we had a variety of kitchen helpers. One fall apple season, we had two cooks and two dishwashers. One spring, I wrote to my old friend the Dean of Women at Pomona College to ask if she knew of two college girls there who would like to work for me the coming summer. The two who came were Bethel, whose father was a very well-to-do farmer in the Midwest; and Lois, educated in Switzerland, whose father was Minister Plenipotentiary to Albania. They were charming girls, willing workers though they knew practically nothing about housework. They were waitresses, dishwashers, and chamber maids. The guests were delighted with them. But the current cook, Mrs. Miller, very English, could not appreciate them. She was accustomed to work in an English household where there were 17 servants. In those days when servants were servants with their own ranks of butler, housekeeper, cook, etc. and much above the mere maids, she could not endure our casual democratic way of life.The guests were charmed by Bethel and Lois and, of course, treated them as equals. But Mrs. M. felt that as maids, they were far beneath her. She knew her own place, way down below the guests. How could the guests treat those girls as equals? She was pathetically jealous of them. We had explained that we didn’t want tips given at our little all in the family resort. But Mrs. M, accustomed to being one of a line of servants waiting expectantly, almost held her hand out ready whenever a guest was departing.
She never forgot her place. When we had dinner served picnic style on Inspiration Point, I told her she was to sit on the ground with the rest of us and only to help pass things around. It was almost more than she could bear.
At one meal, when luncheon guests had left the room and only the family table was still occupied, she came in from the kitchen, and as always stood quietly waiting to speak until she was noticed. I can still see her subservient attitude and hear her low differential voice.
“Excuse me Mrs. Roberts, your house is on fire.”
As nothing about her suggested that this was a fact, I couldn’t take it in at first. “What did you say?” I asked.
She repeated it, quiet, unemotional, as befitted a servant. To her obvious horror, I did not act as the dignified lady of the house should. I yelped and sprang up and raced for the kitchen. It was true. The kitchen roof was blazing, though already Jack and Gus had it under control.

Gus Weber with the hired staff one summer. Robert Asher photo

Gus Weber with the hired staff one summer. Robert Asher photo

2 Responses to ““Elsie’s Mountain”- Memories of Palomar & Southern California 1897- 1987”

  1. Kay Story September 29, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    So excited and can hardly wait to read “Elsie’s Mountain”.

  2. Rita Covalt October 3, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

    Looking forward to “Elsie’s Mountain.”

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