Memoir Writing Contest Reminder and a Story

by Matilda Butler on February 23, 2011

catnav-news-active-3Post #52 – Women’s Memoirs, News – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Memoir Writing Contest Ends February 28

Two items for today’s news. First, a quick reminder that the current Memoir Writing contest ends on Monday February 28. Here’s the description of this contest.

Memoir Writing Contest #2 for 2011: Deadline is February 28. Memoir Writing Contest Theme: Reflections on Green. This topic gives you room for creativity. You might write about spring or a dress or St. Patrick’s Day or … The winner(s) will be published in March.

The rules are at the bottom of this link:

Now, for a treat. Sometimes we receive stories that are not entered into our contest. Just a good story, well remembered. We publish some of these when we have an open day on our schedule. This tale comes from Gale Henshel as she recalls a time many years ago when she went to court. Hope you enjoy it.

by Gale (Holm) Henshel

For two years I’d been complaining to the appliance store that my new Corning oven did not work. Oh they sent out the service man. Service call after service call. He put in a new thermostat. He put in a new lining on the oven door. All the while, he says there is nothing wrong with my oven.

Enough! I picked up the phone and informed the store owner that I was taking him to small claims court.

Off to the court house where I filed against the appliance store and Corning, headquartered 400 miles away in Los Angeles. The date was set and I was ready to take them on.

I put on my pink wool dress with a very short shirt. It itched like crazy but looked good. High heels and a daphne blossom in my hair. My briefcase contained a cookbook and two letters, one from Sunset magazine and the other from my mother-in-law.

The courtroom was full. I found it fascinating watching the cases ahead of mine. Funny, I thought. A cat escaped from the animal hospital, apparently opening the window himself, that cat. The cat was lost and its family wanted him back.

The court reporter called the next number. Woops, that me. We’re escorted up to the front — the store owner, the two men from Corning and me, in my pink wool dress.

Judge Fineburg addressed the Corning guys and one responded: “We have made many service calls and there is nothing wrong with her oven.”

My turn. “Judge, my oven cannot even bake a simple Betty Crocker cake mix and I know what I’m talking about.” I showed him the cookbook I wrote, Cookies and Crumbs for Little Ones, explaining that it sold 800 copies when part of a fundraiser for the Peninsula Children’s Center. Next I handed him a letter from Sunset magazine showing that I had won a monthly recipe contest. “And that’s not all, sir. Here’s a letter from my mother-in-law saying the oven does not bake pastry, and she’s Swedish. They do love to bake. I would go so far as to call her an authority. Judge, something is wrong with this oven, air leaking in or something. I want a new stove.”

“Mrs. Holm, you would not use a cake mix, would you?”

“No, instant frosting maybe but never a cake mix.”

He laughed and turned to the defendants. “Make arrangements to bake a cake mix in her oven and I’ll see you back in this court with the results.”

The day arrived and the doorbell rang. Steven, my son who was five years old then, ran to open the door. His greeting was, “Are you the ripoff people?” Wonder where he heard that?

In they came, a woman and the two (in)famous men from Corning. They carried a bag that housed a yellow cake mix, three eggs, a bottle of vegetable oil, a measuring cup and spoons, a bowl, a beater and two cake pans. The woman mixed it up, put the batter in the cake pans and the pans into the oven. Twenty-five minutes later out came the sunk-in-the-middle cake. She put the toothpick in and pulled it out with still raw dough stuck to it. What a surprise.

One of the men said, “It’s not done.”

“Sorry,” I said. “Twenty-five minutes is what the mix says so that is all you get. When it cools, I’ll freeze it and bring it to court.”

“But its raining outside. Have you had your powerlines checked recently?” said one of the now somewhat desperate looking men.

“Do you really have a job?” I responded and showed them to the door.

Back to court and the judge stared at this funny looking dessert.

“What’s the matter with you people?” he asked of the Corning representatives while lecturing them on wasting my time as well as the court’s.

“Mrs. Holm, hope you enjoy your new stove.”

Several months later, I read in the newspaper that Judge Fineburg had been appointed to a higher court by Jerry Brown, the first time he was governor. Hum, I thought. Maybe it’s because of the way he handled my small claims court case.

No, I never learned what happened to the cat. Sure hope he made his way back home.

SPIDER COOKIES, a recipe from my cookbook, Cookies and Crumbs for Little Ones. This recipe was a favorite of my two sons when they were small.

1 6.5 oz can Planters Cocktail Peanuts
1 5 oz can chow mein noodles
6.5 oz demi-sweet chocolate morsels
6.5 oz butterscotch morsels

Melt chocolate and butterscotch morsels. Stir in nuts and noodles. Coat well. Drop by teaspoon onto waxed paper.

That’s it. Fun for kids and doesn’t even require a working oven.

By the way, my cookbook was written mucho years ago. But the memory of the oven and the cooking still remain.

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