A few weeks ago my wife made some Pear Pineapple Jam, which is a family favorite. It never fails when she makes this jam that memories of her Great Aunt Florence are evoked in a fond retelling of stories of her great aunt. It was her Great Aunt Florence who gave her the recipe and taught her how to make Pear Pineapple Jam. This Jam has been enjoyed by my family for years. In this holiday season that the months of November and December bring, many of us have family food recipes and traditions that recall past celebrations and family that has gone before us. For many people, the recipe collection in our kitchens is a who’s who of generations before us.
Great Aunt Florence was born Florence Dorothy Monty in the year 1895 in the town of Beekmantown, New York. She was the younger sister to Edward S. Monty born in 1883; their parents were Oreon and Emma Craft Monty. Florence and her brother Edward were to marry a brother and sister also, Carl and Ruby Gonya. Florence and Carl Gonya were married May 7, 1919. They were to have two children that would live into adulthood.
It was just 22 years into their marriage when Florence’s husband died a very sudden and unexpected death leaving her with two children aged eight and nine, and a large farm to run. If that were not to be a tough enough test in just seven months the Untied States would be drawn into the Second World War, with all the hardships that would come with it. She was 45 years old with two young children, a large farm, in a time when women had little access to credit and when men did not work for a woman, even if they could be found with a war going on. She could not have known it at this time but without a doubt, this terribly hard time would be her greatest triumph. She not only saved a farm but a family.
When I was first introduced to Florence, she was about 73 years old. They were 73 years of hard, honest work. Years spent building something, years that take their toll on a person’s body. I was about 17 when I met her, and her warmth and friendly manner put a very nervous young man at ease. She was easy to talk to and be around. However, she without asking for it demanded respect and even I could tell that she had a dynamism that still shone through the years. She was now doing embroidery and her son Willis now ran the farm. Florence never remarried.
Florence died in 1975. She left behind a farm, an example of a righteous life, warm memories, much love, and a large and growing family. She was just seven years old when the Wright Brothers had their first flight and at age 73 saw the Moon landing. She was 16 when the Titanic sank. She was alive for two assassinations of presidents. She lived through two World Wars and the Korean and Vietnam War. She started her family during the Great Depression. She was a woman who rose above her circumstances and the times.
Pear Pineapple Jam Recipe
Prepare jelly jars as directed on Sure Jell Packing. Follow directions for Pear Jam on packing. However, substitute 1 cup of pears with 1 cup of well drained canned crushed Pineapple. Complete processing of jam as directed.