It was the Hindenburg of cookbooks– a fundraiser for the Leggat Valley Historical Society to replace the arms of the statue of Brigadier Wallace Waterton which disappeared mysteriously sometime during the night of March 31st. Most agreed that the statue reminded them of a Victorian, male version of the Venus de Milo. This would not do, according the Historical Society members.
At the Historical Society’s monthly meeting the following April, it was decided to embark upon a fundraising campaign to replace the arms, and enable Brigadier Wallace Waterton to regain his pose of irate authority.
“Nude calendars are all the rage,” suggested the society’s treasurer, seventy-nine-year- old Rodney Bugsby, who had spent the last sixty-three years imaging what club president, eighty-year-old Martha Winterbottom looked like naked. It took only seven and a half seconds for his motion to be rejected.
They did agree upon the sale of a Historical Society cookbook containing favourite recipes as contributed by society members. It didn’t take long for an impressive array of recipe cards to flood into the club secretary’s mailbox. The challenge was now to get all of the recipes typed into a word processing file, then sent to Cookbook Fundraisers Inc., in Madison, Wisconsin for the printing of three hundred copies of the cookbook.
That’s where Martha Winterbottom’s grandson, Hunter, came in. “He’s a computer whiz, you know,” she said, easily convincing the executive that Hunter was perfect for the job. “He’ll even do it for free!” She failed to mention that Hunter still owed his parole officer eight hours of community service following that paintball incident at the all-candidates meeting in the fall.
Hunter was astonishingly efficient, keying in the recipes and sending the file off to Cookbook Fundraisers Inc. in no time at all. Everyone was tickled pink. . .
. . . until the three hundred copies of the cookbook arrived, ready to be sold by society members. It did not take long for club secretary, Alice Bland, to notice some striking errors in the cookbook. She’d always wanted to see something of hers in print, so it was with great anticipation and greater anguish when she looked at her recipe for ground beef and macaroni casserole. The instructions for the recipe called not for ground beef, but for ground rat.
Board member Nyla Johnson was mortified when her recipe for rum pudding required twelve cups of rum. “People will think I’m a lush!” she gasped, bringing the back of her hand to her forehead in a motion that hinted she just might faint.
And member in good standing Elsie Cunningham’s recipe for carrot cake– a recipe which she proudly told everyone had won first prize at the fall fair nine out of the past seventeen years– was mutilated almost beyond recognition. “What will people think?” she gasped, before disappearing behind her front door and not re-emerging for three weeks.
Feeling responsible for this catastrophic situation, Martha Winterbottom knew there was only one thing she could do– go through each and every copy of the cookbook and correct the errors by hand. It was a long, tedious process, and on the night she finally finished correcting the three-hundredth copy, Brigadier Wallace Waterton’s head went missing.