Q. I'm investigating my family history and came across an article I did not understand. It was published in the East St. Louis Journal on Jan. 5, 1937, and begins: "State's Attorney Louis P. Zerweck today ordered Norman Bailey, reputedly Belleville's biggest weather ticket agent, to 'fold up,' but apparently the order did not include anyone else who might be violating the law by selling the tickets. Asked if his action means that he will 'bear down' on all weather ticket salesmen, Zerweck said: 'I cannot make a statement on that.'" I have never heard of a weather ticket and neither has my dad.
-- Judy Darnell, of Dardenne Prairie, Mo.
A. I only had to mention "weather tickets," and I could feel the sunshine light up the voice of longtime News-Democrat photographer Bill DeMestri.
Now a nonagenarian, DeMestri, along with his wife, Arlene, saw most everything that went on in this area through much of the 20th century -- and weather tickets were among those things
"Weather tickets, definitely, they were very active here in the '30s and maybe even into the '40s," he said. "I haven't heard of them for many years, but they existed, believe me."
As most people probably know, long before states legalized lotto and casino gambling ... er ... gaming, illegal numbers games (or numbers rackets or policy rackets) flourished. Usually it was a matter of mobs and gangsters giving you the chance to win a few dollars each day by picking the right combination of three or four numbers.
But just as you can still place bets on all kinds of crazy things (what will the hair color of Prince William's first child be, will Kelly Clarkson forget at least one word of the National Anthem during the Super Bowl, etc.), weather tickets involved gambling on some aspect of the weather. Unfortunately, 70 years later, the DeMestris are a little hazy on whether they bet on the conditions or maybe what the high temperature would be the next day. (Arlene said she bought them, too.)
"We don't remember how they worked, but it had something to do with the weather," said Bill DeMestri, who also remembered the popularity of the Irish Sweepstakes here decades ago. "If you were close, you won a few bucks. And if you were right on the button, you won a nice big chunk of money."
Illegal? Sure, "but nobody got arrested for that," he said. And, I'm betting this might spark even more vivid memories, so be sure to call or write.
Q. In last Tuesday's paper, there was a recipe for Clementine Cake. The directions told us to "beat the eggs into submission." So, how do you beat eggs into submission or even know when they're about to submit?
-- Steve Ruhmann, of Waterloo
A. Turns out that our food editor, Suzanne Boyle, tried to beat a recipe into submission and now jokes that she may have wound up with a little egg on her face.
Here's what happened: Suzanne ran across a most entertaining recipe on the Internet posted by fiction writer Judi Cutrone. Cutrone had taken the recipe from well-known chef Nigella Lawson, but Cutrone, known for her vampire stories, jazzed it up with lighthearted comments.
"Place the gorgeous little beauties (clementines) ever so gently in a pot with cold water, enough to cover our amber gems," she started. "Look on lovingly as they glisten in the pool of water."
Similar directions followed. "Bring pot to a boil and cook for two hours. Patience is a virtue. Be strong. Cake is coming." And "Finely chop the skins, pith and fruit in the processor. Yes, it's true. All of it. Don't be afraid."
So by the time Cutrone was into the heart of the recipe, it should have been no surprise when she threw in the direction "Beat the eggs into submission." By this time, readers would have realized it was just her jocular way of telling you to beat the eggs thoroughly as you normally would do.
But to save space for more recipes, Suzanne deleted the funny ad-libs. Well, all except the one you saw. Now she admits she probably should have left in more quips or removed them all so you wouldn't have taken that step quite so seriously (if, indeed, you did).
If you'd like to see the entire original recipe -- along with a short excerpt from Cutrone's "Little Women: Vampire Hunters," lots of pictures and other recipes -- go to somekitchenstories.com, click on "Recipes" and search for Clementine Cake under desserts. As for Suzanne, I'm thinking she probably won't be asked to edit a "Big Bang Theory" script anytime soon.
What was the first car to offer air-conditioning?
Answer to Thursday's trivia: When Eliza Jumel sued former Vice President Aaron Burr for divorce, she was represented by Alexander Hamilton Jr. -- the son of the man Burr shot to death in a duel on July 11, 1804. The divorce was finalized Sept. 14, 1836, the day Burr died. Eliza reclaimed the name of her deceased first husband and remained single until she died in 1865 at age 90.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org