Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

Farewell, Our Friend

Barbara Shwartz, Moderator for Sun Lakes Writers Group

Bill Finerman was a cherished member of our Tuesday writers group family.

He was with us for several years, took a few years’ hiatus, and rejoined us recently.

Bill passed away on Sunday, Sept. 13, quietly and in his sleep. He was 91 years young.

Bill was born in Chicago in 1929. As he grew up, he made a life-changing decision and became a soldier during the Korean War. Bill regaled us with stories about his service time and how he served in the military orchestra. He was friends with Johnny Mercer and shared so many wonderful stories about that particular friendship.

Bill was a stock broker in Los Angeles for some time, and was a specialist on the LA Stock Exchange trading floor.

He also served on the Chicago Exchange Board from 1975 to 1990.

Bill is survived by his wife Gloria; they celebrated their 58th anniversary this past summer. I am sure that he is also survived by numerous friends, many of whom looked forward to our weekly meetings in the Sun Lakes Writers group.

We will miss Bill Finerman’s fine character, his wit, and his remarkable ability to use the written word to record his life, to share with the rest of the world. Rest peacefully, Bill.

Mom and Apple Pie

George Stahl

Who would you say was your favorite pastry maker, and what was it they baked? Many would probably say, mom, and it was apple pie. That was the standard answer for any serviceman in World War II if they were asked by a reporter to describe why they were fighting. “For mom and apple pie,” they’d say. Nothing more American than that, except for maybe, baseball.

The apple pie has gone through much on its journey to become an American icon. It is created using a pastry. A pastry as it turns out is not the finished product, but an ingredient in that product. The closest thing to an example would be concrete. You know, that hard surface you walk on, shovel snow off of, and patch when it cracks. Concrete is the finished product, even though it is mostly referred to as cement. Cement is actually the powder in concrete. Pastry then is the cement in the apple pie, the dough that holds it together.

The pastry dough is laid down as a bottom to the pie, then the other ingredients are added, apples, sugar, cinnamon, lemon, butter and other spices, and a cover of pastry is laid on top to complete the apple pie. The pie is put into the oven, baked for an hour, and then left out to cool. Now, the taste test is given to it, and mom, grandma, or your wife receives the accolades they so justly deserve.

The recipes for apple pie stem from the one created in medieval England, in a small bakery in the north of London, where the apple pie was born. It is 1381, and a baker was experimenting with a recipe for a new pie. His recipe, most likely with the help of his wife, simply said to use, “good apples, good spices, figs, raisins, and pears, all prepared in a coffyn of pastry dough.”

Very soon, the villagers were sitting inside the bakery, or under a nearby tree, sipping strong, warm, English ale, enjoying a hearty helping of the baker’s newly invented apple pie.

So how did that pie make it to America, and reach the status of a national symbol. In the late 1600s, English ship carrying goods made their way here, and before we knew it, we got our piece of the pie.

There are French versions, Swedish recipes, and who hasn’t heard of Dutch Apple Pie? I bet you thought they got it from us.

Once the bakers in the colonies got a hold of the recipe, things were added, taken away, and soon, what is left to cool on your grandma’s window sill became the version we know as, American Apple Pie. The pastry based goodie, apple pie, should have a place beside the Bald Eagle in his photo ops. Sitting together as a symbol of our strength, and our endurance as a nation.

For mom and apple pie.

One Special Thanksgiving

Jacqueline M. Ruffino-Platt

Thanksgiving, back home in New Jersey was always the best time, the best food, and the most memorable dinner of all the holidays. Mom, my two brothers and I lived in a three room apartment, no dining room and a very small outdated kitchen. Baking sometimes was a little cautious. The oven door to the stove only opened half way down before it collided with the kitchen radiator. My mom seemed to make it work and prepared the best delicious dinners, retrieved from the complicated oven. Holiday meals at home usually had several courses. The chosen menu was created with an Italian flare. In fact, the only entree not Italian was the (pronounced Takino) Tacchino, Turkey.

Our little apartment was always headquarters for many holidays and Sunday dinners. Why? ‘cause my mom was the best cook. Growing up in this environment with my morn, brothers and all my Italian relatives, aunts, uncles and cousins, was a treasure and never forgotten. As years passed, many more plates were set at the table. Nieces, nephews, in-laws, and grandchildren created a treasured atmosphere never to be forgotten. From the small table in the kitchen, to the much larger fold-out table set up in our living room, and a card table in our bedroom for the little ones. We were blessed and thankful. Our relatives never arrived empty handed; their hands and arms were full carrying delicious homemade breads, desserts, pastries, Italian cakes, homemade baked pies, puddings and fruits. Of course grandpa contributed his homemade Italian wine. Grandpa was always possessive of his wine and kept his foot next to the jug during the entire meal. Permission for the taste of the grape was always granted by grandpa and only grandpa. The young ones, myself included shared a sip of the vino mixed with 7 Up. Today, I believe it’s called a “Cooler.”

I am certain you have some wonderful and cherished memories of your holidays. I have one I would like to share. I was 11 years old at the time, and during a Thanksgiving dinner I wanted to say something I thought was important. Everyone was speaking at once and a little loud (we are Italian) but in a good way of course, pass the potatoes, pass the roast, pass the antipasti, pass the salad. A little voice came from a small corner of the table. Oh, it’s me … “Hello, excuse me, I have to tell you something,” no one listened, heard me, or noticed me. Then my Uncle Tony, mom’s brother, stood up from his chair, hit his hand loudly on the table and told everyone to be quiet, and then looked my way and said, “Go on my sweet niece Jacqueline, what do you want to say?” Uh uh, I saw all the eyes glaring at me in my direction, there was silence around the table, nervous and scared, I couldn’t utter one word. Embarrassed and very quiet, I spoke softly and in a whisper said, “Thank you mom and everyone for all the food. Happy Thanksgiving I love you.”

Happy Thanksgiving to you all here today and may your holiday trimmings be blessings from God.