Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dorothy Jo’s Western Recipes: a Minor Reed College Mystery

Dr. Dorothy Johansen (1904-1999), longtime professor of history and humanities at Reed College, in 1952 penned a pamphlet for the Standard Insurance Company of Portland, titled “Western Foods and Recipes 100 Years Ago.” It is described in this Sunset Magazine (November 1952) advertisement, but I have been unable to locate a copy of it. It’s not listed in WorldCat; there is neither a copy of it nor a reference to it in Johansen’s meager archives at Reed; and my mole at Standard Insurance found nothing in the company records.

I’ve been looking for this not only because of my interest in regional foodways, but also because Dorothy Jo had a profound impact on my education and career. The author of Empire of the Columbia (1957, with Charles M. Gates; however, the second edition of 1967 was almost entirely recrafted by Johansen), Dorothy Jo taught a seminar on Pacific Northwest history, and she was my advisor for several years; a falling-out over my thesis topic sent me to David Allmendinger, but in the end Dorothy Jo served on my thesis committee. Dorothy Jo smoked Roi-Tan little cigars almost continuously, ate peppermint ice cream, and upon my graduation admonished me to eat lots and lots of steamed broccoli, topped with oleomargarine. Naturally, I want to know if her pamphlet on Western foods makes mention of broccoli.

N.B.: Another Dorothy Jo mystery is her unpublished mystery novel. Set in undefined academia, it is written through the eyes of one Aristotelia Bennedict. The draft is in her papers at Reed, along with the extended comments of literary advisor and agent A. L. Fierst, who recommended many changes but was very supportive in his remarks. Someone should tidy it up and get it published!
Dorothy Jo, 1963. Reed College Archives

If you find a copy of “Western Foods and Recipes 100 Years Ago,” do, please, tell me about it! And get me a copy!