Hello! Hello! Hello!: Remembering The Cottage Kitchen Ladies

Carolyn Kelsey(seated), Allyn Goss, and myself at 12 in a familiar setting.

Carolyn Kelsey(seated), Allyn Goss and myself at 12 in a familiar setting in 1965.

One day Grandma and I were looking for a good luncheon stop.  And we found one, just a short walk away from the Obstinate J Ranch where we spent our summers.  A large blue and white sign declared:  Cottage Kitchen.  We decided to give the place a try.  When we opened the door, a voice rang out “Hello!  Hello!  Hello!  And how are you folks today?”  And a friendship began that lasted for many years.

Mrs. Carolyn Kelsey was a tall lady, somewhat bent over that liked to smile and talk.  Miss Allyn Goss was just the opposite;  she was short, taciturn and rarely smiled.  However, you could tell that these ladies respected each other, although they did get angry with one another on occasion.  “Dear, you forgot to turn on the stove!”  “I’ll try to be more careful, dear!  And they would scowl.  But usually they were the best of friends and each had her own tasks:  Mrs. Kelsey made the shakes and Miss Goss cooked the burgers.  Raisin pie was their calling card and every two weeks or so they would make delicious chocolate tarts.  They also kept their shelves full of home-made jams and jellies prepared from the finest fruit available.  During the Holidays, they enjoyed making bread for their neighbors and friends.

Cottage Kitchen became our favorite place for lunch and also for snacking after dinner.  We used to tell the ladies about our river trips and would often enter in quite informal attire.  They didn’t mind, though, and would listen to our latest inner tubing or rafting adventures, hanging on every word.  And Mrs. Kelsey would add her boisterous enthusiasm to Grandma’s.  However, one thing we didn’t like was Snoodle.  He was a mixture of a schnauzer and a poodle and inherited the worst traits from both breeds.  Whenever we wanted to use the rest room, which was behind a screened door, Snoodle would race up to the door, barking furiously and had to be restrained by Mrs. Kelsey.  He certainly was a great watchdog for the two ladies.

The years I spent at Cottage Kitchen were among the happiest of my life.  However, time started to creep up like a shadow and soon the ladies lost their agility.  It became harder and harder for Mrs. Kelsey to walk, so Mom insisted that we help her serve the meals and wait on customers.  Eventually, Mrs. Kelsey couldn’t work at all and Mom took her to her heart doctor.  On the way and back, she was complaining and fretting.  This was certainly not the Mrs. Kelsey I knew, and she died soon after.  Suddenly, a part of my life folded into unpenetrable darkness, and the doors of Cottage Kitchen closed forever.

The following description of the story of the ladies of Cottage Kitchen is excerpted from a 1965 article by A.L. Day in “Trail Tales”, a column of the Mail Tribune:

These two(Carolyn Kelsey and Miss Goss) met in 1925 in New York City where both were receiving instruction and training in the art of food preparation at Schraft’s and later at the Consumer’s Cooperative.  Both of these institutions are considered tops in the U.S. for their superior courses in food preparation, and its supervision.  Upon completion of their schooling, they decided to go into business for themselves, and have operated restaurants at some of the best spots on the Old Boston Post Road, from Darien to Lime Rock, Conn…

After the war they decided to combine a sightseeing trip of the West with a visit to Mrs. Kelsey’s daughter, who lived in California.  So, selling their restaurant in Beaver, Penn., they pointed their car 270 degrees and headed for Crater Lake, which neither had seen.

Leaving the lake they headed south on 62, toward their original destination, but nightfall caught them at Riffles on the Rogue where they rented a cabin for the night.

So impressed were they with the view of the river and the scenic beauty of the surrounding country, that Mrs. Kelsey says she suddenly spoke out, “This is it,” and they both liked the location so much they decided in less than an hour that this would be the site of their future home and business…

No tastier palate pleaser compares with the Cottage Kitchen old-fashioned tomato preserves from an Old New England family recipe, and don’t overlook those jars of pie cherries, cherry marmalade, pear butter, and apple butter.  It is a delightful gustatory experience just to read the labels.

The ladies made one emphatic point regarding their goodies, and that was that they used only the finest of locally grown wild fruits, berries, and sugar;  and the best obtainable vegetables, spices and vinegars–no additives, no preservatives…

These are two very happy people;  justifiably proud of their accomplishments, pleasantly reminiscing the past, certain of the present, and with a cheerful attitude toward the future…

About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

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