Last Monday was my grandson’s birthday. For Bryce’s party on Sunday, his father made both chocolate and white cupcakes with strawberry frosting. For the chocolate ones he used the tried and true recipe from Hershey’s can of cocoa.
For the plain cake, he used a recipe that’s been handed down through at least three generations. I don’t really know its origin. It is what my mother called a “stirred-up cake” because she could have it in the oven in less than five minutes. If she needed a quick dessert, the still warm cake from the oven would ready when we finished our main meal. It might be frosted, or be served with fresh or canned fruit, and it was always delicious.
My son displayed my mother’s recipe that I had given him. At the top of it written in Mom’s hand is the note “from my mother,” who, of course, was my grandmother and my son’s great grandmother. Bryce’s birthday cake came from his great, great grandmother’s recipe.
Bryce also carries the name of his great, great, great grandfather, who came from Scotland in the mid-eighteen hundreds. Andrew Dixon Bryce was born in 1844 and apparently came to the United States between the ages of 17, when he listed on Scotland’s 1861 census, and the age of 23 when he married Bryce’s great, great, great grandmother, Eunice from Broome County, New York.
The West Point Concert Band is a first class unit. Last night I sat with friends and thousands of others on the hillside facing the bandstand below Trophy Point on the West Point campus. It was a perfect evening. The sky was clear and the air was comfortably warm. Precisely at 7:30 the announcer stepped forward to begin the final concert of the 2015 summer season.
Tradition dictates part of the concert—a salute to all of the country’s military corps with their theme songs, and the traditional march, Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa.
One of the highlights of the latter is the piccolo solo in the trio section. Last night the band’s piccolo player was a featured soloist in a larger work and relinquished her short solo. The audience was given the opportunity to vote by phone to choose the instrument to play the solo in her place. None of the band members knew who that would be until it was announced at the last moment.
Chosen: the tuba player, who did great job with the tricky little melody. So the highest, smallest instrument in the band gave way to its lowest, largest instrument. It was a fun event.
The band closed their summer concerts, as they do annually, with the playing of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which was written to commemorate the Russians victory to save their country from Napoleon’s Grande Armèe.
The orchestration calls for cannons and carillon. The cannons of West Point thundered in rhythm of the director’s baton. I didn’t hear a carillon. My only thought about the music was I missed the richness of an orchestra’s strings.
The last note faded to cheering and applause. A moment later fireworks lit the sky. I enjoyed watching them twinkle through the leaves of the tree over my head. So, ended a perfect evening.