Wednesday, July 21, 2010


A good-spirtited song about breakfast is "Cooking Breakfast For The Ones
I Love" (1992) by Maria Muldaur, accompanied by daughter Jenni and Canadian children's entertainer Fred Penner.  The song is a slightly remodeled cover of "Cooking Breakfast For The One I Love," first sung by Fanny Brice in 1930 and covered that same year by Annette Henshaw.  Each 1930 version is excellent in its own way.

I say "slightly remodeled" because the variations are mostly a matter of pronoun changes, in the title and internally.  But the difference in ambience is distinct.  The 1930 original is a song about two people, one partner cooking for the other while she sets "a tiny table for two.”
In Muldaur's version, it's a family affair: the table is set for four and throughout runs a sense of communal activity.  Complete with mixing bowl and crockery sounds, the song is buoyant.  You feel as if you're in a family kitchen with nice people.

I was reminded of this music while thinking about breakfast, and I was doing that after watching Breakfast Special, a PBS show about breakfast restaurants.  Breakfast is my favorite meal, and I was snared by the buckwheat pancakes at Cartwright's Maple Tree Inn, one of the restaurants profiled.  Sadly, I don't actually like eating breakfast in the morning.  And I was imagining instead how good those pancakes would taste for dinner rather than breakfast.

It happens that my best friend likes buckwheat pancakes and is a skillful cook.  So I googled material for her about Cartwright's Maple Tree Inn and pancake recipes.  My thinking was that my friend might incline toward making buckwheat pancakes for dinner sometime, maybe with bacon.  And maybe some other friends could join us.  And while the pancakes were cooking, I could play some music.  And then I thought of exactly what I would want to play, some Maria Muldaur.

As it turned out, I never did find Cartwright's buckwheat pancake recipe.  But I found others, including a potent formula for a yeast-driven, batter-sits-overnight, molasses-added version.

In doing this research, I learned that Cartwright's Maple Tree Inn is in Angelica, NY, a rural town (pop. 903) in western New York State, near Lake Erie and Pennsylvania.
Also in Angelica is the absorbingly named Until The Day Dawn Cemetry.  I like this name.  It designates neither a place, saint, nor relic, but instead presents as a prepositional clause with a transitive verb.  "Until The Day Dawn" has activity in it: those buried there are at rest but only until the day, the resurrection day, dawns.  It's religious of course, but I appreciate the transitive wording.  For myself, I might prefer to be interred in something more secular –– say, the Until The Coffee Runs Out Cemetery.

Rev. Calvin Fairbank
In any event, in this cemetery is buried the Rev. Calvin Fairbank (1816-1898), a Methodist preacher active in the Underground Railroad in the 1830's and 1840's.  Over a period of years, Rev. Fairbank led 47 slaves to freedom, and served two prison terms in the Kentucky state penitentiary for his efforts. His image here bears the caption, "an abductor of slaves" –– he's a thief, not an abolitionist.

It is sobering to read a passage from Fairbank's 1890 autobiography, Reverend Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times: How He "Fought The Good Fight" to Prepare "The Way”:

     Forty-seven slaves I guided toward the North Star, in
     violation of the state codes of Virginia and Kentucky.
     I piloted them through the forests, mostly by night, ––
     girls, fair and white, dressed as ladies; men and boys,
     as gentlemen, or servants –– men in women’s clothes,
     and women in men’s clothes; boys dressed as girls, and
     girls as boys; on foot or on horseback, in buggies,
     carriages, common wagons, in and under loads of hay,
     straw, old furniture, boxes, and bags; crossed the Jordan
     of the slave, swimming or wading chin deep, or in boats,
     or skiffs, on rafts, and often on a pine log.  And I never
     suffered one to be recaptured.  (p.10)

Rev. Fairbank himself was captured and spent seventeen years in prison. During his second imprisonment from 1854-1862, and under the stewardship of two sadistic wardens, he was tortured continually. He kept count of the floggings, which eventually totalled over 35,000 "stripes."  (See Rev. Calvin Fairbank for his autobiography, or Memoir for an 1893 overview of his life from The Illustrated Buffalo Express.)

I realize we have traveled some distance in mood from our breakfast starting point.  But that is where Angelica, NY took me.  Cartwright's Maple Tree Inn is a working maple syrup operation, and the restaurant is open only nine weeks a year during syrup-production time, from mid-February to mid-April.  But they serve pancakes all day, which is a fine thing.

And if some spring day I were to come for the pancakes, I would stay a while ... head out for the Until The Day Dawn Cemetery and pay my respects to Rev. Calvin Fairbank.

Photo Credit: Don Kaake. Used by permission.


colin said...

sounds like a possible field trip will happen next spring in New York State...

Unknown said...

How did you guess, Colin?....

Don said...

Kit, Angelica welcomes you. The town and village have been saved by it's isolation. Angelica photos at

Kit said...

Thank you, Don, for your comment—and for permission to use your photograph of the Rev. Calvin Fairbank's grave in Angelica, and for the compelling video link you sent of a Civil War reenactor, Rev. Timothy Middleton, playing the role of Rev. Fairbank: href=
I very much appreciate the thought of being welcomed by Angelica.

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