Family Fare Side Bar I
Article by Jennifer Vess. Originally published in Generations 2011 – 2012: Jewish Foodways
Side Bar: The Bluefeld Catering Story: “People came from all around”
“The Progressive Lodge had a shore where, during the summer, the members were allowed to go…on the weekend – it was on the Magothy River…. So in 1936, my mother was awarded the concession. She paid $1200.00 for the privilege of having the little stand at the shore….
We opened…on Sundays only during the summer months…. The concession was a soda concession with limited foods…. On Sunday morning, early, we would pick up hot dogs, European Kosher hot dogs…from Slaters…. We would pick up the rolls from Crystal Bakery next door, we would pick up the ice cream packed in dry ice from Hendler’s. My mother would have been down the shore for a couple days prior, she would have gotten meats earlier…she used to buy meats from Posner. On Wednesday, she would get kishke; Sam Posner made sure she had the best kishke…She would have konkletten – the hamburger of today was the konkletten of then, it was delicious. Corn – she used to prepare a few days for these things. She used to make, maybe, a hot dish. It was all simple servings, but she embellished it. Rather than just being hot dogs and hamburgers and grease, she already embellished it with a little bit of ‘tam.’ A little bit of taste…. People came from all around….
There were organizations in this Order that would then have outings…That summer, by the time we got to August, we were already catering, without knowing the word ‘catering….’ They would say, ‘We are going to have fifty women coming down on an outing;’ and rather than everybody taking their own baskets, which was the trend…she arranged with these organization for $1 a plate, a Wednesday lunch.
A Mrs. Spector, who lived on South Charles Street….said to Mrs. Bluefeld that her daughter was going to be married in October at Workmen’s Circle Hall on Baltimore Street, and she would like for her to cater her daughter’s wedding. And my mother said, “Well, I don’t know how to cater any weddings. This is what I do.”…. Mrs. Spector said, “You’ll do it; you’ll do it nice.” And my mother said, “Okay, fine” [Bessie Bluefeld] was our charm, she was our mentor, she was the one who had all the foresight. What we did years after was only a matter of doing what she had planned. She had set the guide rules of what our business was to be, the adding the dignity that catering was beautiful, that the responsibility was on us to do a good job for the people.”
~Excerpted from Oral History 75, Louis and Philip Bluefeld, August 6, 1979