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While perusing the December 1894 issue of the Missionary Guardian, our eye was drawn to an article in which the editors had pulled together quite a collection of various church fundraising events, some easily discernable, while others nothing short of mystifying.

We understand the “Farewell Supper” for a departing preacher, a bargain at 25 cents such that “those sorry to see him go will eat out of compliment, and others will at the same price have gladness.” So, too, the “chrysanthemum show,” the “strawberry festival” and the “baked bean supper.”

With other fundraisers, however, our imaginations supply a variety of explanations that might only be made less interesting by the addition of more information. Take “the carpet rag social,” for example. Or the “fish-pond party.” We also have the “geographical social” and the “Yankee wedding,” all broadcast to the community without apparent need of further explanation.

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The Missionary Guardian opines, “In New York, they do some very odd things in the name of the Lord. At a Baptist church fair a year ago they had a vaccinating booth. A regular physician was there, and the virus was put on the arm at half a dollar each. Of course, your girl wants to escape the smallpox, and she allows you to pay the bill.” Hmmm. Mighty romantic, say we.

There is the “guess-ball social,” the “hatchet party” and an “oriental entertainment.” The “leaf social” comes with a description, and was apparently designed as a way for the young men and women of the congregation to get better acquainted. Leaves resembling oak, maple, etc. were cut from paper, in pairs. A young lady would pin one leaf to her dress while the young gentlemen “purchased” a leaf drawn at random from the hat. He had then only to find the leaf’s mate and he had found his companion for the church dinner that evening.

All of this brings us to our personal favorite on the list, the “calf-head soup supper with vocal music.”

That such a soup could finance the sending of missionaries around the world required that we do a little more research. Looking through the archives, we came upon “Pearl of the Kitchen,” a cookbook published by the Reformed Church Publishing Company in 1898 by the Dayton, Ohio, “Ladies of the St. Joseph Orphan’s Society.”

We herewith present Mrs. Frank Mauch’s “tried and approved” recipe from that volume (although we hasten to remind the reader that a successful fundraiser includes calf-head soup and vocal music).

Calf-head soup

Take a calf head, and put on water enough to cover it, boil until tender, then strain the broth, chop the meat fine and put back into the broth. For one gallon of soup, add the following: One half teaspoon of each, pepper and salt, one half teaspoon of allspice and one half teaspoon of cloves, three laurel leaves, two slices of lemon, one small onion chopped fine; brown your flour and put in the soup when done to thicken.

Discover more about odd church traditions at the Leben website!

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