From Pillsbury's BEST 11th Grand National Bake Off Cookbook.
From Pillsbury's BEST 11th Grand National Bake Off Cookbook.
It was August 1959 when headlines in the local paper announced, "Mrs. Bud Atwood is in Cooking Contest." She was one of 80 finalists in that year's Pillsbury Grand National Bake Off and received a check for $l00. She won an electric stove and an electric mixer, plus a plane ticket to Beverly Hills, Calif., for the contest. She had sent six recipes, then decided at the last minute to include a certain cookie recipe, which turned out to be a winner.

One month later, new announcement: "Mrs. Mildred Atwood has helped put Spring Valley on the map! She won $l,000 in the 11th annual Pillsbury National Bake Off as her recipe was Best of Class in the Cookie Division. She was competing against 99 other contestants from all over America. The program on which winners were announced was televised. Master of Ceremonies Art Linkletter called Mrs. Atwood to the stage and announced to the television audience that she was the mother of three children, she decorated her own home, and had found the winning recipe in an old magazine.

"For the rest of the show she and the other winners of the four divisions sat on the stage in full view of the television cameras. The $1.000 was only part of her prize as she had won an electric stove and mixer, the plane trip to California, and $l00. She was due home Wednesday, but she'll be minus her luggage, which she lost along the way along with her plane ticket."

Ah, Millie - she was one of the dear souls in town, wife of Bud Atwood, the car dealer. They lived at 213 West Jefferson and she indeed invested a lot of time and money in decorating her home with unique pieces.

Everyone was well acquainted with Mildred's letters to the editor, especially when it came to the despicable vacuum-powered street sweeper. She abhorred that thing - noisy, and she thought ineffective, and we could count on a letter in the paper whenever the city brought it out. She was one of a kind, and you can try her recipe, which follows.

Coffee Toffee Bars

(makes about three dozen)

Sift together 2-1/4 c. sifted flour, 1/2 t. baking powder, 1/4 t. salt. Cream 1 c. butter, gradually add 1 c. brown sugar. Blend in 1 t. almond extract and 1 to 2 T. instant coffee. Add the dry ingredients and blend thoroughly. Stir in 1 c. chocolate chips and 1/2 c. blanched, chopped almonds. Press into well-greased 15"x10" jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. If desired, frost while warm. Almond Glaze: Combine 1 T. soft butter, 3/4 c. powdered sugar and 1/8 t. almond extract. Add 1 to 2 T. milk until of spreading consistency.

The year 1959 brought forth other news and here's a quick overview.

The local historical society was headquartered in the basement of the school and received some excellent pieces - an ancient cupboard and a dry sink - from Mrs. Knute Soland, which had belonged to her family, the Ole Galens. Also received was an 1875 kitchen range - all of which can be seen at the Washburn-Zittleman Historic Home these days.

In April, Joe Mlinar sold his theaters, after being in business here for 34 years, to Elvin "Mickey" Owens, a Spring Valley graduate. Mlinar came from Iowa, bought the State Theatre from Web Huntley and Art Schraut, and at one time had two theaters on Broadway. He built the outdoor theater in 1949.

The school auditorium (old gym) hosted the Home Show, with 2,500 in attendance. Those in charge: Harold Alred, Al Keim, Don Frank, Cy Pedersen, Keith Hagen, Bill Callaway and Willard Jahn. Jaycees were in charge of prizes. It was astonishing to learn 600 kids signed up for swimming lessons for the water-safety program and 700 folks came to see the water show at the pool - what a grand start to the summer season.

Really big news: The State Department of Health declared the Spring Valley area in need of a hospital, and federal Hill-Burton funds were available. Total cost would be about $750,000, with half from the grant and the rest to be raised locally. A professional fundraiser was engaged; full-page ads ran weekly in the paper, and by August, $275,000 had been pledged and plans went forward. The 35-bed hospital opened in 1962.

Summer 1959 our telephone system went to what was called 7-digit dialing, with our designation Diamond 6 or 346-0000.

Just for fun times, the Jaycees challenged the Chamber of Commerce to a donkey baseball game. Needless to say, the stubborn donkeys provided an evening of hilarious entertainment as their riders tried to manage the beasts.

Remember Gold Bond stamps, with their free gifts? These were available at Cliff's Corner Conoco (present tourist info center), Valley Mobil, Kvale's IGA, Sward-Kemp Drugstore, S.V. Feed Co., Greenleafton's Prinsen Grocery and Scheevel's Sinclair & Feed, and in Cherry Grove at Dornink's Grocery. Of course other businesses offered the Green Stamps, too.

Dr. Clark was honored at a special event for having been the town's "family doctor" for over 50 years. Loren Jorris sold the old Jorris Funeral Home; it was moved to the northeast part of town to become an apartment building, and in August the beautiful new funeral home was opened for a grand tour. Contractor was Willard Jahn and local businesses involved: S.V. Plumbing & Heating, Al Sisson, Kaess Electric, McConnell Electric, Steffie's Decorating Service, Rex Peters, Ed Kruegel (a bier), Burgess & Sons, Callaway Lumber, Loren Jorris Flooring, Kappers Construction, Koebke Ready Mix, and Millard Bender did the landscaping. It is now Hindt Funeral Home.

Auto sales? Lundby's sold the wide-track Pontiac, the "#1 Road Automobile;" Marzolf Implement featured the Lark Studebaker V-8, 22.28 mpg; Byers Motors offered the new Rambler station wagon; Bud Atwood had "America's Best-built" car, the Mercury; Al Marchant received a quality award from Chrysler, the first man to receive the award in the Rochester district. Business was booming and life in Spring Valley was rewarding.