Archive for February, 2011

“It makes me think of the good old days
Happy birthday to you
You sure grew out of your baby ways
Happy birthday to you
Fortieth birthday and we wish you many more
Health and wealth and friends by the score
Cut the cake and let’s eat some more
Happy birthday to you”
John McCutcheon’s Birthday Song                                                                             .  

Year 2010, the year I turned 40, was special indeed. Thanks to Chris and John, I look and feel fabulous. All winter I wondered if the Bates family would acknowledge my exciting birthday year, and, sure enough, Moni pulled through.

On an early spring day Moni drove her car into my garage. Moni typically lugs all kinds of stuff from her car to the house: gym bag, hiking boots and hydration bag for field work, bags of groceries and jugs of milk, and cat and dog food. While bags and boxes were pulled from the car, that darn dog jumped in and out of the back seat. Moni usually carries cloth bags for groceries, but this day, I spotted an unusual plastic bag with “Party City” printed on the outside. I recognized the second word because I see it all the time when John helps me read the North Carolina state map, but the first word was foreign to me. I tried to see the contents through the bag, but it was too dark in my garage.

Shortly after that day, John, Moni, and Pele jumped into my cabin and we headed down the gravel driveway and toward Greensboro. It was a bright, sunny day, April 17, 2010, and I was excited to get out of my dreary garage. I noticed that Moni brought the mystery bag placed it in my closet. Often Moni and John inform me of our destination even before backing out of my garage. But this time there was no such notification, even as we continued south of Greensboro on U.S. Highway 421.

Eventually, we turned off the big highway onto a two lane paved road at a brown sign that John read: “Hagan Stone Park.” This was a good sign (pun intended) because we usually camp over night at parks. We made a few more turns, and then a right onto a very small road that crossed a dam where I saw mallard ducks floating on a pond. Through winding roads with trees shading our path, we started dodging pot holes and gravel crunched under my tires. When I was able to look outward, I saw bunches of VW buses parked all over the grassy lawn with canopies erected and picnic supplies scattered underneath. I could not believe my headlights! There were even buses from way up north in Canada. I’ve never been there.

John pulled me into a circle of buses who all donned North Carolina plates. These local buses were circled up like a gaggle of Conestoga wagons on the tall grass prairie in Iowa where Moni’s Grandpa Fred lived. I nestled right in with the other buses. I was still unaware of this special occasion.

VW Buses at "Every Bus" at Hagan Stone Park (April 17, 2010)

Parked along side my buddies, I noticed children, young and old alike, riding bikes down the gravel path and across the lawn. Their parents strolled around, checking out other buses, socializing with owners, and feeling confident that none of us would run over their precious young ones. Kids ruled the campground.

Moni slipped out of the passenger seat, slid open my side door and let Pele out. I’m always thankful when the dog exits my cabin. Next, I heard the rustling of plastic and Moni’s fingers grasped the mysterious bag. Slowly, she walked to my passenger side, stepped on my vinyl seat, and pushed upward. I heard more crinkling and then spotted a party hat as Moni placed it on my camper top. Concurrently, John adorned me with other party decorations. I finally figured it out; this was a surprise birthday party for ME!       

Fredrick's 40th Birthday Party

Special friends attended. Chris brought his lady friend, Courtney, who had never seen so many VW buses in one location. I am her favorite though. I was SO thrilled when, in the distance, I heard a familiar chortle and looked up to see my previous owner, Gordon Plumblee. Oh boy, what a treat. He complimented me on my youthful appearance, and I radiated thanks for his taking excellent care of me. I miss Gordon, but he is glad that I still live close by and remain a member of the Bates family. Gordon told Moni that he reads my stories and that made me feel good.   

From left to right: Tom Paulson, Lin Woosley, Gordon and Janice Plumblee

As the sun lowered on the horizon, Moni erected a table and placed two red raspberry velvet cakes and a tray of Aunt Katie’s brownies on it. On the cakes, Courtney arranged small candles and a long-sticked candle with a “40” on its top, while Moni prepared to light them. The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” and then Moni and John sang their standard, unique John McCutcheon “Birthday Song” which ends with “Cut the cake and let’s eat some more.” And that they did.   

Red raspberry velvet cake and Aunt Katie's brownies


Playing games under the picnic shelter

Many folks think that I am younger than 40, but Moni possesses proof of my age. My birth certificate, a copy shown below, states that I left the factory in Germany on 29 August 1969 and was shipped to Philadelphia, USA in time to hit the sales lot during the fall as a 1970 model. Moni ordered my birth certificate from the Stiftung AutoMuseum Volkswagen at the following address:

Stiftung AutoMuseum Volkswagen
Frau Neefe
Dieselstrasse 35
Brieffach 1003
38446 Wolfsburg, GERMANY
Fax Number 011 49 5361 52010

Photograph of my birth certificate

The weekend at Hagan Stone Park was the initiation for my 40th birthday celebration. Throughout the summer and fall of 2010, Moni drove me to trail heads and parking lots to meet other women for mountain and road bike rides. At the conclusion of their rides, Moni slid open my side door, pulled out a cooler of beer and shared drinks with the ladies. Each time, Moni placed my party hat on my antenna and they celebrated my 40th birthday and another fun ride together. I look forward to my 41st birthday season because Moni says we started a tradition. I say, let the party continue!

Favorite family birthday cake recipes are given below. The last photograph shows Moni’s enthusiasm for birthday celebrations started as a young girl with her maternal cousins

 Chocolate Cake                                             Michaele Clark Bates
Michaele’s cake was Chris’s favorite birthday cake for about the first 12 years of his life.

Melt over low heat:  2 squares unsweetened chocolate or ¼ cup cocoa; ½ cup butter or margarine; 1 cup boiling water
Sift: 2 cups flour; 2 cups sugar; 1 tsp. baking powder; 1 tsp baking soda
Blend the above two lines together and beat well. Then add: ½ cup sour milk or cream; 2 well beaten eggs;  2 tsp. vanilla
Grease 9 x 13”cake pan. Bake at 350º F. about 30 – 35 minutes.
Frosting:  ¼ cup butter; ¼ cup brown sugar; ¼ cup cocoa; and ¼ cup cream or milk
Mix and bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool. Add enough powdered sugar until it reaches desired consistency and beat to remove lumps.

Red Raspberry Velvet Cake                                                Moni Carlson Bates
After baking this cake, it became Chris’s standard birthday cake and baked on numerous other special occasions.
From Cooking Light, “Culinary historians believe this originated in New York City in the 1950’s at Oscar’s at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Cooking spray
3 cups sifted flour
2 T. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
½ cup butter, softened
4 large egg whites
2 cups fat-free buttermilk
1 (1 ounce) bottle red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Frosting: 7 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese; 1 tsp. vanilla extract; 2 ¾ cups powdered sugar
Remaining Ingredients:  ½ cup seedless raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 350º F. Coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray, and line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Lightly spoon 3 cups cake flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, and next three ingredients (through salt). Set aside. Beat granulated sugar and butter with a mixer at medium speed 4 minutes or until well blended. Add egg whites to sugar mixture; beat at medium speed 5 minutes or until fluffy. Combine buttermilk, food coloring, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternating with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until moistened. Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350ºF. for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean (do not over bake). Cool cake layers completely on wire racks.

To prepare frosting, combine cream cheese and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl; beat with mixer at high speed 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not over beat). To assemble cake, place 1 cake layer on a plate. Spread with jam; top with second cake layer. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator. Yield: 18 servings

Angel Food Cakes: Margaret Bates, John’s mother, and Janet Hegwood, Moni’s mother, used Betty Crocker box mixes to make angel food cakes. Margaret split the cake in half and iced it with whipped cream and almonds. Grandma Devant, Margaret’s mother, made all kinds of cakes, usually with a rose placed in the center. But angel food cakes were not the favorite dessert for either Moni or John. Moni’s favorite was her mother’s jelly roll and John’s was Margaret’s banana pudding.

Jelly Roll                                                        Janet Fillman Hegwood
Grandma Net continues to make jelly rolls for Moni whenever she visits.

1 cup plus flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond
3 T. water
1 cup jelly or ice cream

Separate egg whites from yolks, place whites in larger mixer bowl, yolks in smaller bowl. Beat whites until stiff. Add ½ cup of the sugar, 2 T. at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat egg yolks until thick and light. Add remaining ½ cup sugar gradually beating until very thick. Add flavorings. Slowly add water stirring constantly at low speed. Fold egg yolk mixture into whites. Fold in flour mixture. Pour into greased and wax-paper lined 15 ½ x 10 ½ pan. Bake at 375º F. for 15-20 minutes. Turn out on towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Roll cake and towel together. Cool on rack. Unroll and spread with jelly and re-roll. 10 servings.

 Banana Pudding                                             Margaret Devant Bates
Moni started making banana pudding for John’s birthdays with pudding made from scratch. After a couple years, John finally found the courage to inform Moni that he preferred the plain old fashion box pudding. That made life easier for the cook.   

Ripe banana; Vanilla wafers; Box of vanilla pudding
Make box of vanilla pudding, place a layer of vanilla wafers on the bottom of pan, then sliced banana, then pudding. Repeat layers.

 Blitz Torte                                                      Kay Fillman Fredrickson
Aunt Kay (Moni’s maternal aunt) made for her brother, Uncle Jake, birthdays.

½ cup shortening
1 tsp. baking powder
½ cup sugar
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
¾ cup sugar
4 egg yolks (beaten light)
½ cup sliced blanched almonds
1 tsp. vanilla
1 T. sugar
3 T. milk
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 cup cake flour (sifted)

Cream shortening; beat in sugar and salt, then egg yolks, vanilla, milk, and flour (sifted with baking powder). Spread mixture in two round nine inch greased and wax paper lined pans. Beat egg whites until very light, add ¾ cup sugar gradually and spread on the unbaked mixture in both pans. Sprinkle with almonds, one tablespoon sugar, and cinnamon. Bake in a moderate oven at 350º F. for about 30 minutes. Let cool and put together with the following cream filling.

Cream Filling:
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
3 T. corn starch
2 T. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups milk (scalded)
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, corn starch, salt, and egg yolks; beat thoroughly. Add butter and enough milk to make a smooth paste. Add paste to remaining hot milk and cook over boiling water, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened. Cool and add vanilla. If desired, add ½ cup chopped nuts.

1950's Cousin's birthday party in Iowa

Sister Becki is lighting the candles. Moni, in the red sweater, is leaning forward with pointer finger targeting the cake. Cousin Nina Fredrickson is next to Becki, then Cousin Connie Fillman. To Moni’s right is Cousin Cindy Fredrickson. Cousin Earl Dean Fredrickson is leaning in from the right.

The Fillman, Fredrickson, and Carlson families celebrated the cousin’s birthdays by grouping birthdays together. May was a big month with three birthdays, including mine. The list below includes all the cousins on Moni’s maternal side of her family.

 January: Becky Carlson (1/10/1950) and Cindy Lou Fredrickson (1/13/1957)  

February: Nina Lee Fredrickson (2/16/1948)

March: Caryn Lynn Fillman (3/2/1959) and Earl Dean Fredrickson (3/23/1952)

April:    A break for our aunts, Kay, Shirley, and Janet, from baking angel food birthday cakes

May: Jack Bruce Fredrickson   (5/16/1949), Ramona Kay Carlson (5/27/1953) and Craig Steven Fillman (5/31/1954)

June: Robert Gene Carlson (6/16/1951)

July: A second break from consuming angel food cakes

August: Rhonda Lea Carlson (8/23/1961)

September: Mark Alan Fredrickson (9/26/1959)

October and November: Considered fall break

December: Constance Joan Fillman (12/12/1951)


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