Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

President's Cake-Maker a Hit Here in '15

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

President's Cake-Maker a Hit Here in '15

Article excerpt

The hardest part will be to avoid saying something smart about

President Clinton's fry cook . . .

Jacksonville was a-twitter if not agog the Halloween season of

1915 because the president's cake-maker was coming to town.

The Florida Times-Union had retained Betty Lyles Wilson, no

relation to Woodrow, the currently sitting chief executive, to

conduct a five-day cooking school in Jacksonville.

Betty Lyles Wilson was the most famous cooking person and

domestic artiste in the United States at the time, sort of a

Julia Child and Martha Stewart rolled into one.

Best of all, she was a Southerner, from Nashville, Tenn., at a

time when that was quite important in both the cultural and

culinary milieu of America. Like, Yankees didn't cook

vegetables.

She contributed regularly to the Ladies Home Journal and

McCall's magazines, and was including Jacksonville on a grand

tour of Southern cities preparatory to whipping up her annual

Christmas cakes for the White House.

(Also, she made Christmas fruitcakes that American presidents

gave away to people who came to call, especially the English.)

The Times-Union cooking school was in its third year, but, of

course, had never approached such zenith as Betty Lyles Wilson.

The five-day clinic was open to the women of Jacksonville

without charge and conducted at the Woman's Club. Participants

were asked to bring their own bowl and spoon, with which to

sample, and, of course, pen and pencil.

The place was packed and the women wore hats.

"Those of us fourtunate enough to have eaten what she cooks

wonder if she did not originate the food served to the gods of

Mount Olympus," said the Times-Union food person, with customary

reserve.

"And that if at some time ages ago she was not high priestess

in the kitchen of Jove himself," added the food person, American

presidents being chopped liver.

More, and perhaps most important, she was endowed "with an

understanding deep and sincere of her sister women -- an

understanding that realizes with warm sympathy the petty worries

of poor servants, daily small economies and the friction that

every day brings to the homemaker. …

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