When I married my husband thirty-three years ago, I received a beautiful rolling pin made from maple wood as a wedding gift. It was fashioned well with an integral mechanical system of ball bearings that facilitated the rolling of dough with ease. My mother taught me how to care for that essential kitchen tool and I am pleased to report that it looks and functions as well as it did the day I received it many years ago.
I have just returned from a visit with my daughter and son-in-law who live in the Pacific Northwest. It was more of a “working” visitation as there were a few home improvement issues requiring attention that I knew I could address. I arrived with my cut-off saw, air compressor and nail guns – yes, I am quite the handy-woman! Two storage tubs were filled with pry bars, spackle, putty knives, painting supplies and a bounty of microfiber towels.
One evening toward the end of my visit, my daughter assisted me with the making and baking of my long-time friend’s family recipe for doughnuts. The dough was very soft and it was evident that a generously floured surface would be required to prevent the sticky mass from adhering to the cutting board. I gently patted the dough with floured hands into a disk, sprinkling a tad more flour on top as I prepared to roll the dough to the appropriate thickness with the rolling pin I had bought for my daughter nearly four years ago – a gift in honor of her marriage.
For whatever reason, be it sentimental or practical, it was important to me at the time of purchase that my daughter had a quality-made rolling pin, one made of maple wood like the one I have used for years. When I opened the cupboard door to retrieve the wooden implement, I was struck by yet another “Fayette Paine” moment.
VIC FIRTH MFG. INC.
How do those words speak to you?
Big business enterprise? Corporate manufacturer?
I was struck with the image of a wood-framed house that was at one time the family home of Josiah and Lovina Paine and their six children – Fayette being their third-born son. The home stands yet today on property presently owned by Maine Woods Concepts/Fletcher’s Mill in New Vineyard, Maine.
This past August, my father and I sat at a table in the office of Doug Fletcher, company president and owner of the mill. We talked about the company’s recent acquisition of Vic Firth Manufacturing’s gourmet line – salt and pepper mills, muddlers, and of course rolling pins fashioned from maple wood. I suspect it won’t be long before the Fletchers’ embossed logo version will be available at my local Williams-Sonoma store.
Fayette was himself no stranger to the family kitchen. In later correspondence written after the Civil War, Sarah had returned to Maine for a long visit one winter. Perhaps Fayette was taught by his father and mother the most basic of skills for self sufficiency? No doubt his service in the military contributed to his ability to get things done. In his letter to Sarah on November 22, 1869, Fayette wrote:
“I have been picking corn all day. The first that I have picked since you left. I churned yesterday … got the cream a little warm … I drained off the buttermilk put in some cold water put it out in the shanty and it was all right in a little while. I baked some biscuits for dinner; and made a pudding for supper and had some pudding and milk. I shall have to bake some more bread tomorrow night.”
I’ve been inspired by my Civil War friend. Time to dust off the rolling pin – I just might be making some homemade biscuits for dinner tonight.