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Cookbook contains more than just recipes

Elerth "El" Arntson likes to collect cookbooks, especially old ones put out by churches and those he considers unique. He had more than 300 of them at one time. But he says that as he and his wife Denise have aged, he's donated many of them to ch...

Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist

Elerth "El" Arntson likes to collect cookbooks, especially old ones put out by churches and those he considers unique. He had more than 300 of them at one time. But he says that as he and his wife Denise have aged, he's donated many of them to charity "so others may enjoy them as I have," he says.

Now he writes that he has one cookbook he'd dearly like to return to its original owner.

More about that later; first, let's tell you a little about El and Denise.

El is a Moorhead native who grew up near the Clay County courthouse and jail. "The neighborhood kids actually played a lot of baseball and football on the jail's lot," he says.

He then lived in Fargo and attended North Dakota State University, where he met Denise. She is from Cavalier, N.D., by way of Reynolds, N.D. Her mother's family is from East Grand Forks, Minn.

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Denise's mother is 88 and lives by herself in her own home in Cavalier.

After they married, El and Denise moved from Fargo to Brocket, N.D., then to Bismarck, where they lived for about 30 years. El is retired from teaching, directing plays and coaching a speech team at St. Mary's Central High School in Bismarck.

They now live at Battle Lake, Minn. "Thanks to computers," El says, "my wife is still working for American Bank Center in Bismarck/Dickinson, N.D., from our home on the lake."

But now, back to that special cookbook

It is titled "Let's Cook with Gail." It was copyrighted in 1952, published by The Farmer from St. Paul, and written by an 11-year-old Gail Palmby.

"The book contained some printed pages and then was to be filled by cutting out recipes from the monthly issues of The Farmer," El says. "The copy I have has printed pages through Jan. 17, 1953. The rest of the pages are filled with recipes cut from the newspaper."

Inside the front cover are words written in cursive, El says. They read (just as written, spelling and everything) "Do not look in this book. Please ask me first and do not take any recipes or you well pay a $1.00 a $1.00."

This was followed by the name and age of the book's owner, Betty Warner, 9. She listed her town as Puposky, Minn., a small unincorporated town in north central Minnesota.

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Betty concluded her inscription by adding, "Do what I say or you will pay. Thank you."

"I would love it if the cookbook could be returned to Miss Betty Warner, or if she is deceased, one of her descendents," El writes Neighbors. "The book was obviously used and loved. "

El says if the owner isn't found, he will give the book to his oldest granddaughter on her 9th birthday in two years. "I'm sure she will appreciate the cookbook," he says, "as she already is helping me bake, and the last time she visited us at the lake she made the scrambled eggs."

So, neighbors, if you know Betty Warner or someone from her family, let Neighbors and El know.

If nothing turns up, a certain young girl will have herself a cookbook in which she can find recipes to cook things for her proud grandparents.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 241-5487 or email blind@forumcomm.com .

Opinion by Bob Lind
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