Tag Archives: The Browns at Mount Hermon

Getting from Here to There

8 Mar

Isabella Alden lived during the golden age of train travel, and her books reflected the time. At the turn of the last century, an intricate systems of railroad tracks and heavy, powerful locomotives connected nearby towns and far-away locations.

Train travel ad from Harper’s Monthly magazine, 1909.

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Railroads made it possible for people to easily travel to summer resorts, as Eurie, Marion, Ruth, and Flossy did in Four Girls at Chautauqua. Advertisements made distant American destinations sound exotic and adventurous.

Preparing to board, 1905 (from the Library of Congress).

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But railroad travel also made it possible for people to quickly and economically travel short distances between towns.

In Christie’s Christmas, Christie Tucker set off on a simple, twenty-mile train ride to visit her relatives for the day in a neighboring town.

The rural station at Galion, Ohio.

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Christie’s parents arranged the trip based on the arrival and departure times that were posted at the train station closest to their farm. Christie’s mother told her:

“You are to go up on the train that passes at seven in the morning, and come back on the six o’clock, and that will give you nine whole hours at your Uncle Daniel’s. I’m sure that will give you time to see a good many things.”

The arrival board at London’s North Western Railways station, 1905. The large numbers displayed on the right indicate the platform number of the arriving train.

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The trip was a thrilling adventure for a girl who lived on a farm miles from the nearest neighbor or school.

And though train travel was fairly economical, Christie’s parents had to scrimp and save to afford the fare:

“Eight-five cents there, and eighty-five cents back; that’s a dollar and seventy cents! It seems a good deal to spend; but it is your birthday, and it is Christmas day, and you’ve worked hard, and father and Karl and I think you ought to go.”

To accomplish her day trip, Christie probably traveled in a standard Pullman car, with its narrow seats that faced both front and back.

Interior of a standard Pullman car, 1910 (from the Library of Congress).

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By contrast, Miss Mary Brown (in The Browns at Mount Hermon) could afford to travel in luxury. When Mary left the mid-western village of Centerville, it took her two full days to travel by train to California. Her accommodations probably included a seat in a very nice club car during the day.

A posh car on the Chicago and Alton Railroad, 1910.

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For the overnight portion of her journey, Mary could have secured a berth in a sleeping car.

No matter how long the journey, travel by train usually took preparation. Travelers had to consult departure timetables and plan for connections between railroad lines.

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In those days, travelers had to visit their local train station to obtain printed routes and schedules. But if an in-person visit wasn’t possible, they wrote a letter to the railroad’s passenger agent to ask for help in planning their journey.

The station master wrote back with instructions, usually accompanied by printed schedules.

A printed timetable for the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad.

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An 1881 timetable for Nantasket Beach Railroad (from WikiMedia Commons)

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Once on board, train passengers were ruled by the train’s conductor. It was his job to ensure the train arrived on time at each stop, and that his passengers’ needs were taken care of.

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For the most part, train travel was incredibly efficient. The Georgia Railroad claimed their trains were so timely, residents in the city of Atlanta could set their clocks by the sound of trains going by.

It was also a relatively safe mode of travel. An in an age when few women walked a city street without a chaperone, many women felt comfortable traveling alone by train.

Women traveling alone, 1905 (from the Library of Congress).

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No matter how long the journey, train travel could be tedious; and it was up to the passengers to find ways to entertain themselves.

Passing time with a magazine and a deck of cards, 1905 (from the Library of Congress).

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With the exception of Caroline Bryant, who slept through her train ride in Twenty Minutes Late, Isabella’s characters usually accomplished their journeys by making new friends of their fellow passengers.

A game of chess on board, 1905 (from the Library of Congress)

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That’s what Christie Tucker did. When her twenty-mile train ride came to an unexpected halt because of trouble on the tracks ahead, she set out to make herself useful to her fellow passengers, and reaped unexpected rewards in the process.

Many more of Isabella’s books featured travel by train than those mentioned in this post. Do you have a favorite Pansy character who road the rails? Please use the comment section below to share your favorite.

All aboard! Passengers prepare to depart on the California Limited, part of the Santa Fe Railroad, in 1905 (from the Library of Congress).

If you’d like to learn more about train travel in Isabella’s time, visit Rails West.
Be sure to view their page on overnight accommodations, where they have some interesting illustrations of sleeping cars on trains.

 

100 Years Ago at Mount Hermon

12 Jul

It’s summertime, and that means events at Mount Hermon Christian camp are in full swing. Nestled in the mountains of Santa Cruz, California, Mount Hermon is a place of quiet beauty, where people can renew and build on their relationship with Jesus Christ.

The train station at Zayanta Inn, Mount Hermon, California; 1915.

The train station at Zayanta Inn, Mount Hermon, California; 1915.

One hundred years ago, Isabella Alden was a frequent summer visitor at Mount Hermon. She and her husband Ross moved to the Santa Clara area in 1901. When Mount Hermon opened four years later, they were overjoyed to have a nearby place of rest and retreat similar to their beloved Chautauqua Institution.

The Lake at Mount Hermon, 1913.

The Lake at Mount Hermon, 1913.

Isabella Alden loved Mount Hermon, and she had many happy memories connected with it. She wrote:

I wish I could give you a picture of Mount Hermon, a blessed place where I have spent precious weeks living out under the great redwood trees. It was wild and quaint and beautiful.

Bean Creek at Mount Hermon, 1910.

Bean Creek at Mount Hermon, 1910.

As she had in the old Chautauqua days, Isabella spent as much time in the out of doors as possible at Mount Hermon:

Tent life seemed to belong to it as much as houses belong in most other places. We ate out of doors, and worked out of doors, and practically slept out of doors, with all the curtains of the tent looped high.

Giant California Sequoias.

Giant California Sequoias.

Nestled among the mammoth California redwoods of Mount Hermon, Isabella rested, read and worshipped.

Dr. James Gray, 1910.

Reverend James Gray, D.D., 1910.

Her spirit was fed by some of the world’s most prominent theologians who spoke at the camp: Dr. James Gray, dean of the Moody Bible Institute; evangelist Reuben Archer Torrey; and Reverend A. B. Pritchard of Los Angeles.

Reverend R. A. Torrey, 1907.

Reverend R. A. Torrey, 1907.

 

Reverend A. B. Pritchard, 1903.

Reverend A. B. Pritchard, 1903.

Isabella reveled in Mount Hermon’s program of Bible study. She immersed herself in classes about the Second Coming of Christ, and the Pentecost. She spent a week studying Colossians, and said afterward that she felt “as though I had a new Bible.”

An announcement in the San Francisco Call, July 13, 1906.

An inviting announcement in the San Francisco Call, July 13, 1906.

Amid all the conference meetings, presentations, and Bible studies, she found time for her own writing.

I had a little retreat where I used to take refuge when I wanted quiet for writing or study. It was the burned-out stump of a sequoia tree. The space left was forty feet in diameter with a wall of stump all around. New branches had formed and had climbed till they reached away up toward the sky, and interlaced overhead to form a room of green. The sequoia leaves are odorous and make a lovely soothing atmosphere in which to rest.

A giant Sequoia in nearby Calaveras Grove, California; 1902.

Giant Sequoia in nearby Calaveras Grove, California; 1902.

It was in this atmosphere that Isabella was inspired to write The Browns at Mount Hermon, which was published in 1907; and her experience at Mount Hermon even inspired her novel’s premise. During one specific summer, over 60 people with the surname Brown attended Mount Hermon; Isabella used that bit of trivia as the catalyst for a merry mix-up of people named Brown in her novel.

Cover of The Browns at Mount Hermon

Isabella cherished every lesson and every sermon she heard at Mount Hermon. Each summer for the remainder of her life—health permitting—she made the short trip to Mount Hermon, the beautiful place of worship and rest nestled in the mountains of Santa Clara.

Did you know Mount Hermon is still an active Christian camp and retreat? Find out more about Mountain Hermon by visiting their web site:

http://www.mounthermon.org/

Or visit Mount Hermon’s YouTube channel to see the latest videos of what’s going on at the camp:

https://www.youtube.com/user/MountHermon

Sally Lunn at Mount Hermon

10 Feb

In The Browns at Mount Hermon, Mrs. Roberts was overjoyed when her most fervent prayer was answered—her daughter, Ailene gave herself to the Lord. Mrs. Roberts wanted to celebrate the blessing in the best way she knew how: by preparing a special breakfast for everyone to enjoy.

Illustration of woman reading a recipe.“Oh, well, we won’t mind if we don’t have muffins for breakfast tomorrow morning. What does it matter what we have to eat? Yes, it does, it matters a great deal. We want the best breakfast tomorrow morning that was ever had in this house. I should like to feed everybody on roses! Though after all, I don’t suppose they would like them to eat half so well as they do muffins. Or Sally Lunn; I’ll have Sally Lunn tomorrow, whole sheets of it. Mr. Brown says nothing was ever better to eat than my Sally Lunn; and Ailene likes it better than anything else; I wonder I didn’t think of it the first thing. Oh, Mary Brown! I’m that happy tonight over the child, that it is a wonder I can think of anything to eat! I feel as though I could fly, without wings. Don’t you think she’s settled it! She belongs to the Lord!”

Sally Lunn was a type of cake that originated in England; and there are American versions of the Sally Lunn recipe in cook books dating back to early 1800s. By 1907, when The Browns at Mount Hermon was written, Sally Lunn had become a favorite pastry on American tables, too.

Henry's Cook Book and Household Companion (1883)

Henry’s Cook Book and Household Companion (1883)

There were as many versions of Sally Lunn as there were cooks; but, in general, Sally Lunn was a rather dense cake, much like sponge cake, that could be baked in a variety of ways.

For breakfast, it was usually made up in loaves, then served toasted and spread with butter.

from The Winston Cook Book by Helen Cramp (1913)

A Sally Lunn cake, pictured in The Winston Cook Book by Helen Cramp (1913)

It was also baked in muffin tins and served as tea-cakes with honey, fruit jelly, or sweet sauce.

Black and white photo of three individual cakes arranged on a plate.

Sally Lunn tea cakes. From Good Housekeeping magazine, 1907

If you made several sheets of Sally Lunn, as Mrs. Roberts planned to do, and it happened to go stale because you didn’t eat it fast enough, never fear. A 1903 edition of The Epicure magazine recommended cutting stale Sally Lunn cake into small slices or shapes, soaking then in a thin custard, and frying them in clarified butter. Sprinkle the top with sugar, and “you had very good Beignets.”

Here’s a recipe from 1913 that may have been close to the recipe Mrs. Roberts followed for her Sally Lunn cake:

Recipe Sally Lunn Cake

Click on the image to see a larger version you can print out.

You can learn more about the history of Sally Lunn cake. Click here to read a post at Smithsonian.com about Sally Lunn cake.


Cover_The Browns at Mount HermonClick on the book cover to find out more about The Browns at Mount Hermon.

 

The Browns at Mount Hermon

20 Mar

Cover_The Browns at Mount Hermon resizedThe Browns at Mount Hermon is now available for Kindle and Nook!

Mary Brown may have fortune and beauty, but she’s the loneliest heiress in town. She longs for a family and close friends, but she has only her bank account to keep her company. Then she receives an unexpected invitation to spend the summer at Mount Hermon, a Christian camp in California. It doesn’t take long for Mary Brown, the heiress, to realize the misdirected invitation is actually meant for a different Mary Brown—but that doesn’t stop Mary’s imagination from running wild.

Before she can change her mind, Mary is on her way to California, determined to spend her summer living in a tent at Mount Hermon … even if it means she must pretend to be the “other” Mary Brown. It’s a radical change for Mary, and she enjoys every minute of her new life. But is a summer at Mount Hermon the only change Mary needs, or will her soul be made new, as well?

Click on the cover to read sample chapters and find out more about The Browns at Mount Hermon.

Writer Jenny Berlin

Faith, romance, and a place to belong

The Hall in the Grove

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Isabella Alden

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Britt Reads Fiction

Reviews and giveaways for Christian fiction and sweet, clean fiction. Bringing readers information on great stories and connecting authors with their readers.

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