Lee Klancher, of Octane Press had hosted a meet-and-greet in conjunction with Red Power Roundup in Racine the previous year. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet some of the other authors and many of the people I had worked with to publish Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding. This year, the gathering was in downtown Des Moines at the Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewing Company. It is located in the historic Saddlery Building, built in 1881by J. Rubelman of Muscatine, Iowa who decided that Des Moines with its two rivers and 13 railways would be a good setting for his saddlery company. The building had housed many different businesses but after the flood of 1993, the building was filled with 19 feet of water and was vacant until 1996 when the Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewing Company began to move its brewing equipment in. The décor and beer labels celebrate the history of the building and brewing in Iowa. The walls are adorned with pictures, posters, signs and bottles from old-time Iowa breweries.
The room was buzzing with energy. The food was delicious and the beer memorable. It was a great opportunity to see old friends like Sally Jacobs from the McCormick International Harvester Collection and meet new friends.
I can still remember meeting Lee Klancher from Octane Press and discussing food and cookbooks. Sometimes the universe can create amazing opportunities. I was delighted when Lee introduced me to Irma Harding and invited me to write Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding. It was a great project that has put me in touch with so many wonderful people. Octane Press has hosted book signings and my presentations at each of the Red Power Round Ups. I always love to meet Irma’s fans and enjoy hearing people share their personal family stories about relatives who canned as well as how they started preserving food.
It has been fun being “Irma’s ghost writer” and telling her stories as well as the stories of the home economists who took Irma’s message to the women of the Mid-West farm county and taught them how to freeze food. This year’s topic was Femineering, a term developed by International Harvester to highlight and honor the unique contributions of the women who helped develop the refrigerators and freezers. One of the old newsletters describes how the “feminine eye continued watching, spot-checking the production lines and testing performance under laboratory conditions.”
It was nice to see several friends from previous presentations. I had met Marsha Corbin, the Executive Director at the Old Trails Region in West Central Missouri at a past Red Power Roundup. She had invited me to share one of my Irma Harding presentations for the Missouri Cattle Women. After the presentation ended, Travis Loschen and his wife Meghan stopped to say hi. They had seen several of the Irma presentations at the last few Red Power Roundups. They have an incredible Irma Harding Collection in the garage of their home in Royal, Illinois. Check out the video. Irma’s fans are a dedicated group!