- Mom's closest friend, Eleanor Prentiss, and her husband Bob Price and son Bobby
- Eleanor's aunt Peg Prentiss and her husband Al Frank
- Peg's widowed brother Jimmy Prentiss (visited from Holyoke) (Jimmy had been married to my Grandpa Ashe's cousin)
- Peg and Jimmy's widowed sister Mary Prentiss Murray and her daughter Margaret Murray
- Ray Flynn, a survivor of World War One's Lost Battalion (visited from Holyoke)
- our family of 6
The group usually got together at Eleanor's because it was closer for her elderly aunts and uncles than our place. My siblings and I and Bobby drove the adults crazy with our loud boisterous horseplay in that cramped boxy house. We knew all the nooks and crannies for games of hide and seek, the bounciest beds to jump on, the most fun TV shows to watch. We laughed enough to make me wet my pants. When the Prices put in a swimming pool where a small neglected orchard stood, we really had a blast on those southern California hot summer days.
All of us got together around major holidays: 4th of July, Christmas and Easter, and in between. The menu never varied. Summer gatherings were barbeques. Christmastime meant lasagne, Easter-time was lamb with mint jelly. And it was on the Price's color TV where I watched the annual broadcasts of Peter Pan and the Wizard of Oz--and the 1969 moon landing on my Dad's 48th birthday.
Once the swimming pool was built we went to the Prices more often in summer, and all the attendees helped out by bringing parts of the barbecue. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, salad, pop, dessert. Our family brought fresh-picked corn on the cob from a farm along the way. We often brought fresh home-baked cookies. What strong and wonderful memories these are.
OK, the fresh home-baked cookies. One summer Saturday Mom and Dad were bustling around preparing for an afternoon to-do at the Prices. We were assigned to bring a batch of cookies for dessert, and Mom asked me to take care of the baking while she was out doing early morning errands. Out came the baking equipment, the canisters of flour and sugar, the eggs, butter, and chocolate chips. I creamed the butter, sugar and vanilla. Added the eggs. Added the salt. Time for the flour. I opened the canister of white flour, and holy cow, it was awash with tiny beady black bugs, the dreaded weevil. Yikes, what to do? Mom wasn't home to ask. Our only supply of flour was infested with bugs, we were leaving in an hour, and those cookies had to be mixed and baked. So that's what I did.
Well, when it was time for dessert after the barbecue, you would have thought those chocolate chip cookies were made by some fancy schmancy downtown bakery. Everyone raved about them! The old folks couldn't get enough, and gushed that these were hands down, the best cookies they had ever tasted. What could I do but mumble a brief thanks, flash a weak smile and get the heck out of there and into the deep end of the pool . . .
I kept my secret ingredient quiet for over four decades. Now you know how to make the very best chocolate chip cookies ever!