Tag Archives: New Orleans

A Slice of My Life–Me and a Political Convention

Vera Marie Badertscher

Vera Marie Badertscher sitting in the Presidential Box at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans 1988.

Little did I know when I was nine that forty years later I would sit in the Presidential Box at a National Political Convention!

It started like this:

“Because the other party has been in the White House for too long. It isn’t fair.”

My sense of fair play said that after 12 1/2 years of one Democrat, and 3 1/2 years of another in the White House, the Republicans should get a turn.

I expressed my first political opinion, expressed by my 9-year-old self to my fourth grade teacher in the heat of the 1948 campaign pitting Democrat Harry Truman against Republican Thomas Dewey.  You remember that campaign and how it turned out? Everyone KNEW that Thomas Dewey was going to win.  The newspapers even printed headlines to go out the morning after the election. As you can clearly tell by the smile on his face–it was Truman who won.

Harry Truman - Thomas Dewey

President Harry Truman holds up a copy of the Chicago Daily Tribune declaring his defeat to Thomas Dewey in the presidential election. St. Louis, MIssouri: November, 1948.
(Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

I had been right about one thing, the Republicans had been wandering in the wilderness for many, many years.

The election held a harsh set of lessons for a 9-year-old.

  1. You can’t always believe what you read in the newspaper.
  2. You can’t make assumptions about who is going to win an election.
  3. Politics isn’t always about what is “fair.”

But the election of 1948 also lit a fire in me because the election was exciting, people got very involved, and I could see (although my thinking was not very sophisticated!) that it involved some very important principles of Democracy.

Thanks to the introduction four years prior by My Weekly Reader, the newspaper for elementary school kids,I took an interest in current affairs and started reading the newspaper. Thanks to my teacher asking her students to give a speech in favor of their favorite candidate in 1948, I was ready by 1952 to absorb some of the more subtle aspects of politics .

I Like Ike Button

1952 button for the Eisenhower button.

I remember being glued to the radio until late at night, in 1952, listening to the Republican convention that nominated war hero Dwight D. Eisenhower. My interest waned when I was a teenager, but was ignited again in 1960 when, for the first time, I was able to vote in a presidential election.

As the years rolled on, I got involved in community activities, and that led to working in political campaigns, which led to several years as a professional campaign manager and strategist. Working for a Congressman, I was fortunate to be able to attend a political convention in 1988.

As much as technology has changed, the basics of a political convention are the same, I learned when I attended the 1988 Republican Nominating Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Parties and Entertainment

Political Convention Pin

New Orleans Political Convention Pin 1988

Funny Clothes, from Cowboy hats for Texans to lobster hats for Maine’s delegates, and this vest that was the official garb of the delegates from Arizona in 1988.

Political Convention vest

Back of Arizona delegates vest, 1988 Republican Convention.

And, of course–Buttons. In this picture, you can see a few I wore on my vest (borrowed, since I was not an official delegate, but rather  there as an assistant to a Congressman.)

Republican Political Convention 1988

The Buttons I wore on my vest at the 1988 Republican Political Convention

Sellers of various keepsakes and paraphernalia…and buttons… line the halls and the sidewalks.  This is a sampling of the various styles on sale in 1988 at the Republican Political Convention.

George Bush buttons

George Bush Campaign buttons and New Orleans mementos from the 1988 political convention.

And of course the place swarms with Press. Here is an interview in 1988 with my boss, Congressman Jim Kolbe of Arizona.

John Kolbe and Rep. Jim Kolbe

John Kolbe (dec.), reporter for the Arizona Republic, interviews his brother Congressman Jim Kolbe at Republican Convention 1988.

The excitement always runs high.  Here is the crowd listening to an address by the nominee, then Vice-President George H. W. Bush. (You can see him in the top left on a video monitor.)

George H. W. Bush

Top left hand corner shows the nominee, then Vice President Bush speaking to the convention.

The big event of the speech of the candidate is followed by the equally big event of the BALLOON DROP.

1988 Republican Convention

The balloon drop that signals the end.

All parties come to an end–for some with new friends and warm feelings, for some with a headache that will take four years to heal.

The end of the convention.

After the ball is over…

Note: This has been one of a monthly series I am doing on family and ancestors in politics. Not only did my nine-year old self not suspect that I would be so deeply involved in politics as an adult, I did not realize what depth of political involvement there was in my family history.

Politics in the Family

You can read past posts about my mother and father, Paul and Harriette Kaser and the losingest Presidential campaign ever.

Sardine Stone, an office holder and supporter of James Madison.

William Cochran, who worked for the election of William Henry Harrison.

And before the present series, I wrote about two other polticially active ancestors.

Even Civil War fighter Erasmus Anderson exercised his political opinions in a letter home. (Hint: he disliked one of our most revered presidents.

My uncle Keith Kaser ran for office himself, in one party as my father was working for the opposing party at the same timel


The buttons and vest and poster of New Orleans, and the political convention photos are part of my own collection of Political Convention Memorabilia. I found the image on line of a happy Truman with the mistaken headline. That makes this post partly about Heirlooms.

Bread Pudding for 3 Generations

I live in Arizona, and I recently saw a map showing this year’s flu outbreaks state by state. I would show you the map, but it changes each week, so check to see what the Centers for Disease Control is saying about YOUR state.  By now, the epidemic may be lessening, but just in case Arizona still needs some invalid food, Mrs. Beeton has a suggestion:


 INGREDIENTS.– Thin cold toast, thin slices of bread-and-butter, pepper and salt to taste.

Mode.– Place a very thin piece of cold toast between 2 slices of thin bread-and-butter in the form of a sandwich, adding a seasoning of pepper and salt. This sandwich may be varied by adding a little pulled meat, or very fine slices of cold meat, to the toast, and in any of these forms will be found very tempting to the appetite of an invalid.[/info]

Doesn’t sound terrible appetizing to put pieces of bread between pieces of toast–even with, or especially with salt and pepper?

Here’s a better use for the bread–one of my favorites, Bread Pudding.  Mrs. Beeton has three versions, baked, broiled, and what she calls butter-bread pudding.  I’ve chosen the baked version.

Bread pudding

Bread pudding with currants

Actually, I’m going to give you three versions of bread pudding, (1860s, 1920s and 1980s) because they illustrated one of the things that I find so fascinating about the history of the way we eat. We keep changing our ways of preparing food and popularity waxes and wanes.

Once I had tried the bread pudding with whiskey sauce recipe that I picked up in New Orleans at the Presidential Nominating Convention in 1988, I never went back to ordinary bread pudding. (Although I have to admit that I do not always indulge in the whiskey sauce.)

In looking to see how our ancestors may have cooked bread pudding, I found a striking difference between Mrs. Beeton’s Civil War era recipe and my vintage 1920’s Buffalo Cooking School Cook Book. See what you think.


 INGREDIENTS.– 1/2 lb. of grated bread, 1 pint of milk, 4 eggs, 4 oz. of butter, 4 oz. of moist sugar, 2 oz. of candied peel, 6 bitter almonds, 1 tablespoonful of brandy.

Mode.– Put the milk into a stewpan, with the bitter almonds; let it infuse for 1/4 hour; bring it to the boiling point; strain it on to the bread crumbs, and let these remain till cold; then add the eggs, which should be well whisked, the butter, sugar, and brandy, and beat the pudding well until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed; line the bottom of a pie-dish with the candied peel sliced thin, put in the mixture, and bake for nearly 3/4 hour.

Time.– Nearly 3/4 hour. Average cost, 1s. 4d.

Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons.

Seasonable at any time.

Note.– A few currants may be substituted for the candied peel, and will be found an excellent addition to this pudding: they should be beaten in with the mixture, and not laid at the bottom of the pie-dish.

NOTE:  Bitter almonds are not sold in the United States, as they contain poisonous substances. According to a Wikipedia article, in Italy they are/were used to flavor some cookies, but generally apricot pits have been substituted.  If I were following Mrs. Beeton’s recipe, I think I might  just use some apricot pits. I could not imagine what a bitter taste adds to this pudding. However, if she follows a complicated procedure outlined in this Victorian mansion web site, they would lose their bitterness. And Mrs. Beeton is not poisoning anyone since she is heating the bitter almonds and then straining them out of the milk before adding the milk to the pudding, two steps recommended in the linked article.

According to nineteenth century cookbook writer Eliza Leslie, Lady Cake “must be flavored highly with bitter almonds; without them, sweet almonds have little or no taste, and are useless in lady cake.” Bitter almonds (which are actually poisonous in large amounts) needed to be properly prepared prior to baking – the use of heat would safely extract their strong, bitter taste. This rather tedious process was done by blanching shelled bitter almonds in scalding water, and then placing them in a bowl of very cold water. They were then wiped dry and pounded (one at a time,) to a smooth paste in a clean marble mortar, along with a bit of rose water to improve the flavor and prevent them from becoming oily, heavy and dark. Miss Leslie suggests blanching and pounding the almonds the day before to achieve better flavor and a lighter color, thus enhancing both the taste and whiteness of the cake.

By the way, if you are a mystery book reader and are familiar with detectives using the smell of almonds to indicate cyanide poisoning…..they are referring to the smell of bitter almonds.

Moist Sugar is another name for Muscavado or Barbados sugar, a dark brown sugar with a pronounced molasses flavor. I would use dark brown sugar or just molasses instead, if I couldn’t find Muscavado sugar in the store.

Next, we have the Buffalo Evening News Cooking School Cook Book.



  • 1 quart scaled milk
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 2 C stale bread crumbs without crust
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Soak the bread in milk until soft. Add eggs beaten slightly, salt and sugar and then flavoring.  Bake in a buttered dish until a knife inserted in the pudding comes out clean.

NOTE:  Bland!  Other than the lemon juice, no extra flavoring. I find that blandness in many of the vintage cookbooks from the early 20th century.

Next we have the New Orleans version–anything BUT bland.


  • 1/2 Stick butter (4 Tablespoons)
  • 2 C milk
  • 1 quart cubed day-old bread French bread
  • 1/2 C cubed pineapple
  • 1/2 C cup raisins
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Combine milk and butter in a saucepan and heat until butter is melted.  In a large mixing bowl combine bread, pineapple and raisins.  Add milk and butter.  Mix and let stand several minutes to let bread absorb liquid. Combine sugar, salt and spices. Add beaten egg and vanilla and mix well.  Pour over bread-milk mixture and stir until well mixed.  Pour into a well-greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish or black iron skillet. Bake at 350 degrees for forty minutes. Serve warm with whiskey sauce.

[Note: I use currants and pecans or raisins and pecans instead of pineapple]


  • 1/2 stick butter [4 Tablespoons], softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup Bourbon

Cream together butter and powdered sugar. Slowly beat in Bourbon.

NOTE:  My how times have changed.  As I mentioned earlier, the whiskey sauce is optional, but oh, so good, if you decide to use it.

Because we do not care for pineapple, I substitute chopped pecans (Yes, entirely different!) and if you have them on hand,  use golden raisins.

There you have your choice of three generations of bread puddings, and although they make fine food for invalids, you don’t have to get sick to try them.