Li­brary hosts ‘gruel’-ing Dick­ens Day

Souderton Independent - - FRONT PAGE - By Bob Keeler

Charles Dick­ens never used an elec­tric crock­pot, of course, but other than that, the gruel Deb­o­rah Faulkner, adult ser­vices li­brar­ian, made for In­dian Val­ley Pub­lic Li­brary’s Sept. 8 Dick­ens Day was the real deal and good enough to have Oliver Twist com­ing back for more.

In fact, that’s just what some of those in at­ten­dance did.

“Good stuff,” was Soud­er­ton res­i­dent Mary Met­tin’s as­sess­ment.

It was the first time Faulkner ever made gruel. It was also the first time the at­ten­dees ever ate gruel.

“I thought, man, that can’t be any good,” Met­tin said, “but this is my sec­ond bowl. This is so good.”

Denise Hallman, an­other Soud­er­ton res­i­dent, put it in the com­fort food cat­e­gory.

“It makes me sleepy, the warm milk,” Hallman said.

Ju­lianne Wilie, of North Wales, though, gave it a bit more of a mixed


“It was OK,” Wilie said. “It was bet­ter than I thought it would be, a lit­tle sweeter than I thought it would be, ac­tu­ally, but I didn’t like the tex­ture of it.”

The recipe came from a 1915 cook­book, Faulkner said.

“My con­tem­po­rary cook­books didn’t have any­thing,” she said. “I went on­line and looked for old things.”

Gruel was made by mix­ing a paste of wheat, oat­meal, bar­ley or buckwheat with wa­ter or milk, she said.

A sim­ple recipe dis­played at the li­brary called for two teaVSRRQV RI flRuU DQG RQH WHDVSRRQ of salt to make the paste, which was then added to a cup of boil­ing wa­ter.

There were some more elab­o­rate recipes, Faulkner said, but she pre­ferred to stick with the type that would have been served to the Dick­ens char­ac­ters.

Charles Dick­ens, born Feb. 7, 1812, wRuOG KDvH WuUQHG 200 this year.

Along with gruel, the Dick­ens Day in­cluded a view­ing of WKH 1935 fiOP vHUVLRQ RI “DDvLG &RSSHU­fiHOG,” IHDWuULQJ 0LFNHy Rooney, W. C. Fields and Lionel BDUUyPRUH, DQG WKH 2005 5Rman Polan­ski-di­rected “Oliver Twist.”

There was also a chance to share fa­vorite pas­sages from a DLFNHQV QRvHO DQG D UDIflH IRU D By­ers’ Choice Dick­ens Ebenezer Scrooge Car­oler.

The day also in­cluded pre­sen­ta­tions by sev­eral lo­cal authors. Those at­tend­ing the au­thor pre­sen­ta­tions had cards on their chairs de­scrib­ing Dick­ens char­ac­ters; the cards were used for draw­ings for door prizes.

DLFNHQV NQHw DERuW fiQDQFLDO strug­gles, hav­ing come from a home where his fa­ther went bank­rupt and spent time in a debtors’ prison, Faulkner said.

“They pre­ferred be­ing in debtors’ prison to be­ing in a work­house. The con­di­tions in debtors’ prison were bet­ter,” she said.

Dick­ens, mean­while, was put to work at a young age.

“HH wDV wRUNLQJ 12 KRuUV D GDy DW DJH 12 DQG HvHQ WKRuJK his up­bring­ing was mid­dle class, KLV HxSHULHQFH WKHUH LQfluHQFHG the rest of his life,” Faulkner said.

Just as Dick­ens’ ex­pe­ri­ence LQfluHQFHG KLV wULWLQJ, PDQy RI the lo­cal authors also used their ex­pe­ri­ences in their writ­ing, she said. The writ­ers in­cluded: • -DFN AOWKRuVH, RI PHUNLR­menville, au­thor of “Sec­ond Sight” and “Sec­ond Birth.” “Sec­ond Bath,” a se­quel to “Sec­ond Sight,” will be re­leased Jan. 1, 2013.

• 0LOOLH -DQzHQ BDOzHU, D UHVL­dent of Foulke­ways in Lower Gwynedd, au­thor of “Heldin: Com­ing to Terms.”

• BHUQDUG F. BODQFKH, RI SRuGer­ton, au­thor of “Iracema’s Foot­print: a Brazil­ian Po­lit­i­cal 0yVWHUy” DQG “BRQH­fiVK BRE: D Trib­ute.” He is cur­rently work­ing on “Black Dad/White Dad.”

• -DPHV 5. FRx, RI SRuGHUWRQ, au­thor of “The Wake,” “Wis­dom of Wishes,” “Christ­mas Eve” and “The Map of the Car­pen­ter.”

• -RDQ HDUWHQVWLQH-/HPRQ, Duthor of “Night Shade,” a col­lec­tion of 11 short sto­ries.

• DDwQ 5uWK 1HOVRQ, RI HDU­leysville, au­thor of “Be­com­ing like Christ: Amer­i­can Men­non­ite Spir­i­tual For­ma­tion through the Lens of One Woman’s Life and One Sem­i­nary” and “A Men­non­ite Woman: Ex­plor­ing Spir­i­tual Life and Iden­tity.”

• 9DOHULH OwHQV, RI HDU­leysville, au­thor of “Amer­ica huh! I’m go­ing home.”

• &DURO B. PROLV, RI 0RQWJRPery Town­ship, au­thor of “The Lady is a Champ.”

• &KULVWLQH SFKPLGW, RI BOuH Bell, au­thor of “Death of a Drug.”

• DRURWKy SKHOOy, RI FUDQFR­nia, au­thor of the po­etry books “Any­body See My Shoes? PoetLF 5HflHFWLRQV FURP A &KDSODLQ” and “Don’t Wait Too Long.”

• PDuO SWDQNuV, D 1990 JUDGu­ate of North Penn High School, au­thor of “Hap­less Papa” and “Dad Des­per­ately in need of Train­ing Wheels.”

• BUHWW :DOODFK, RI SHOOHUVville, au­thor of “Jesse Garon.”

• PKRHEH :LOFRx, RI PHUNDVLH, au­thor of “An­gels Carry the Sun.”

“It’s clear that we have lots of tal­ent in our community,” Faulkner said af­ter each of the writ­ers made a pre­sen­ta­tion in­clud­ing a de­scrip­tion of and/or read­ing from their works.

Soud­er­ton In­de­pen­dent photo — SU­SAN KEEN

Su­san Miller speaks with au­thor Phoebe Wil­cox at the It’s a Dick­ens of a Day! event at the In­dian Val­ley Pub­lic Li­brary in Telford Satur­day, Sept. 8.

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