21 July 2009

Babysitting Oscar

In Russia I've noticed that streets are often named for the businesses and trades practiced on those streets at one time if not in the present. For instance the wonderful documentary, "The Children of Theater Street" about the young people studying ballet at the Kirov.

The 1950s Los Angeles address where I live would have been called "Engineers Street". All the men in their white shirts and narrow ties had slide rules in their pockets and each day they headed for the aircraft plants or the studios ... whadda ya mean the studios? Yep. All those glamorous types didn't get on the screen without a whole lot of equipment making them look good, putting them on film, editing and printing that film. Those skills were so valuable that they actually gave Oscars for developments that made the films better. They still do to this day if only on the day before the Oscar broadcast.

We have already established that I was decidedly old for my age and by the time I was 12, all of the parents on "Engineer Street" trusted me to watch their children, some of whom were only a couple of years younger than me and the parents walked out knowing they were in safe hands even if it included singing "Tom Dooley" to a couple of brats that I had just dived into the swimming pool while fully dressed to haul out (well they dared me! and it's another story). As a result I held my first Oscar in 1959 when I was 15 courtesy of a refuge from Hungary and the fact that Mrs. Wargo (pronounced Vargo) was having a baby.

The Wargos had a young child and Mrs Wargo was on her way to the hospital for child number two when they called me in. Parents gone ... check. Child in bed .... check. Oscar on top of television ... whaaaaaaaaaaaaa? There it was, all shiny and gold and really real. I asked him about it later and he answered, "High Speed Printer". Years later, I looked it up to see just why Mr. Wargo had an Oscar on his television and to read the citation.

Here is the quote from Oscar Guy 1957 To LORAND WARGO and the UNICORN ENGINEERING CORP. for the development of an Automatic Printer Light Selector.

Once Mrs. Wargo returned home from the hospital after three days (women got to do that for new babies then), I stuck around to help out with the eldest child while she attended to the new baby. As a result I learned how to make Hungarian Love Letters. The recipe is below.

Hungarian Love Letters



2 c Flour
5 tb Butter
5 tb Sugar
7 Egg yolks
Sweet cream


2 c Milk
2 tb Sugar
2 tb Vanilla sugar
2 tb Flour
3 tb Ground nuts
1 tb Rum

Knead a smooth dough - using enough cream to be smooth.
Refrigerate for 1 hour to become quite cold.

To make filling - boil milk, sugar, vanilla sugar, and flour, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened.

Mix with ground nuts and rum.

Roll out cold dough very thin and cut into 3-inch squares.
Place 1 teaspoon of the filling on each square and fold like an envelope or turnover.

Place on a well-greased and floured pan and bake in 325 oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

Makes 35 - 40 envelopes.

Alternate fillings include jams and nuts, whipped egg whites with raisins and nuts. Anything sweet that suits your fancy.


Anonymous said...

::drooling over the pastry::

carol g said...

They sure look good!! Oscar does also... what adventures you had!!

Jamie said...

As I've said before, most of my adventures have been because someone else actually did something and I just happened to be around when it happened.

faireelinor said...

Hi Jamie--KT from Trail Mix under my google name--great story and the recipe sounds yummy! PS am following you at Twitter now--

Linda said...

... and the Oscar goes to!

Such great stories you have from days gone by when life was simpler and - I think - better. I was reminiscing today on the way back up a crowded turnpike how much simpler life used to be and how less crowded it certainly was; now you have to fight traffic almost the entire length of the Eastern Seaboard no matter the time of day and people are just too busy and rushed anymore to stay in the hospital for three days after having a baby or maybe even taking the time to bake a lovely dessert from scratch.

One of the things I like best about your stories is that they take us back to a time when a 12-year old could be a trusted babysitter and people nonchalantly left their awards sitting on top of the TV. Sadly, those days seems to be long gone except through your wonderful stories.

maryt/theteach said...

Oh Yum, Jamie! :)

Travis said...

I searched on Loran Wargo and your blog is the third link. And 1957 was an interesting year for film.