The Renaissance Dinner 1977

Renaissance Party 1977

(Above, left to right: Sally Easter, George Easter, Christine Frost,  Rev. Frost, to-be-identified, to-be-identified)


The Renaissance Dinner of 1977

I remember …

As part of an attempt to identify all the people in the photograph above from the second Renaissance Dinner, Karen Siracusa sent me a copy of the Program for the first dinner, midst an exchange of emails of recollections. My reaction follows:

Oh, my goodness. That program was created using a font ball from an IBM ball typewriter loaned to us by neighbors in Yardley. We could never have imagined how easy it would become to create a program using the computers we have today. I think all the announcements for Skylights were done using that typewriter and font ball, too. Edward Frost, new to the congregation as lead minister was game to get into the thick of things. Little did he know that Christine would challenge him to wear pink tights as part of their regal attire borrowed from McCarter Theater.

Edward of Dodds Laine and ye Lady Christina, Rajah of Nigum and ye Princess Elaine, Carl and Carol were Lord Pooh Bah of Tittipu and Lady Pitti Sing, and I had forgotten that Chet and Margaret Aronson were seated above the salt during the first Renaissance Dinner, too.

David Schroeder, one of the members of the Society of Creative Anachronism who helped us, was one of two wandering minstrels, who delighted us with songs. I’d forgotten that Scott Ward was the other minstrel.  Both had wonderful voices, and helped to transform the evening. There was a mime from youth group who was fabulous as she wandered from table to table throughout the meal. Moire was her first name, and If I had a directory from those years, I think I could recall her last name, too.

With everyone in costumed (but three people), and Channing Hall hung with banners that members of the congregation created (I think of Myrna Jenkins, in particular), the evening was transformed magically. Ye Unitarian Troubadours performed madrigals for entertainment, and the Hopewell Consort (from Long Island, I think) and the dancers they brought with them topped it all off with their period instruments and period demonstration dances. The hall was cleared of tables, chairs were staged around Channing Hall, and the line dancing began in earnest led by the demonstration dancers.

A fun evening of good food and fellowship was magical! All for $7.00 per person. Not bad for a menu of wassail, parsley bread, smoked turkey, carrot/turnip casserole, spinach salad with walnut oil dressing, and honey cheesecake for dessert. I think we cleared all expenses by less than a dollar by selling leftover spinach the next day.

Our neighborhood was overwhelmed with the aroma of smoked turkeys as Doug smoked 14 turkeys – four at a time in borrowed Weber grills. He looked like a timpanist going from one to the other to apply soaked apple wood chips to the coals. And I remember those who came to carve the turkeys looking like the Mafia out on a hit coming in with their electric carving knives or other instruments in cases. What a hoot!
Fun to recall this event.
~ Daphne R

I remember also …

Well, you released a floodgate of memories. Doug and I had a great time planning this event which was based on the Madrigal Dinners done by the Chamber Singers at Indiana University, Bloomington. This event was repeated each night for approximately two a half weeks in a great hall (in the Student Union) reminiscent of great castle halls, catered of course, by chefs from the Student Union. Frankly, I thought ours was more magical – perhaps even more authentic – because of the period instruments and the dancing that occurred under the gentle instruction of the dancers who were part of the Hopewell Consort. The evening was transformed from the 20th century to the Renaissance when all by three people arrived in costumes fashioned from academic robes, bathrobes, and gorgeous gowns and headdresses limited only by the creative juices of the people who made them for the occasion.

More memories: Each course was introduced with fanfare by the Hopewell Consort who played period instruments:  crumhorns, dulcien, recorders, shawn and sackbut, and presented to the royalty above the salt.  The Wassail bowl was presented on a platform that members of the youth group carried in on their shoulders, then came a paper mache Boar’s Head with an apple in his mouth (made by Perry Davis’ first wife) probably surrounded by excess spinach as trim, the Parsley Bread that Carol Haag made  – absolutely gorgeous braided wreath – came next, followed by a Smoked Turkey, and finally all the cheese cakes (made by members of the congregation). The cakes were presented first to the head table and finally each table below the salt received a cheesecake.

Sally Easter and others helped with the preparation of the carrot/turnip puree – thank heavens for food processors, the superb machine that had just made its appearance on the appliance market. The insides of the containers turned orange from the carrots. And then there were the bushels of spinach that erupted – no, literally exploded – from the boxes of spinach we ordered (based on a chef’s approximation of how much we needed) that had to be washed in mighty cold water by volunteers from the congregation and members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (Princeton University Students). They were invaluable not only for their knowledge, but for their volunteer work in the kitchen leading up to the event. One of the kid’s Dad ran a deli in Brooklyn; he taught the turkey carvers how to get the most out of a turkey. Doug has been using that technique ever since and has passed it on to our sons-in-law.

Moire, the mime, (Does someone know her last name?) led the minstrels in merry chases in and around the tables throughout the dinner. The Peck boys and Yvonne Smith’s boys were participating youth group members. I know there were more, but can’t remember who they were. We gave the Youth Group a beautiful candlestick reminiscent of the Renaissance period and a wide tall candle for their help that evening. They served and cleared the courses, added to the revelry and fanfare, and helped to clear the tables from Channing Hall before the dancing commenced, and they even helped with cleanup.
Thanks for bringing on this flood of memories.
~ Daphne R