The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Slow Cook Goes Home Again

May 6th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Posted in Blog, school food

Ed and Priscilla Bruske, 1951

I flew out to Chicago-land yesterday to surprise my parents for a family reunion to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. They thought I was just being my usual non-communicative self when I didn’t respond to the original invitation. But my four sisters were all in on the scheme, which was to unveil me at a cocktail party last night.

Thankfully, nobody had a heart attack.

Here you see the young couple on their wedding day at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chapel on the campus of Northwestern University, where my dad got a degree in business. They then moved all the way out to Tacoma, Washington, where I was born so that my father could get his legs in sales by peddling cosmetics and household cleaning supplies door-to-door for the Fuller Brush company.

Yes, it’s true. My dad was the original “Fuller Brush Man.” But he quickly graduated to industrial sales, learned how to fly so he could manage a huge Midwestern territory, and eventually started his own brush company outside Chicago that still exists. Even in their 80s, my parents still report to work at the factory.

How the country has changed since this photo was taken. My father’s best customers used to be the steel makers and auto manufacturers of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Those industries have almost completely disappeared. We changed planes in Detroit yesterday and talked about how the city is closing entire neighborhoods it can no longer afford to service.

This morning the eldest sister and I took a long walk through the local forest preserve, rediscovering the youth we spent chasing crayfish and spring peeper frogs. We passed a coyote sunning himself in a meadow (apparently there’s quite a few in the neighborhood now) and locating pau-paus that are just beginning to leaf out, stinging nettles growing along a stream bank, and huge clusters of ramps that somehow have escaped the local gourmands.

Meanwhile, I see back in Washington the USDA plans to take up the issue of rebates in school food by performing some sort of audit,one year after New York State forced a $20 million settlement on Sodexo for failing to pass along rebates to its school district and other government clients.

More on that next week, I’m thinking….

Leave a Comment

Please note: Your comment may have to wait for approval to be published to ensure that we don't accidentally publish "spam". We thank you for understanding.



    Oh Yes ~ Sodexo ~ For sure a story there !
    Why I told Student Organization at GWU ~ Iron clad contract forcing them to live on gravy train with no nutrient value while parents paid huge sums for them to attend GWU ??

    No Way and gave them resources to fight back at GWU and now they overhaul the dinning at GWU this summer to bring FOOD up to the standards for digestion , health, taste and sustaining Life for being a Human ~

    How Lovely !! Awesome photo of your parents ~ When Dreams were real and Utopia for sure existed.

    I am smiling you all are together and were able to surprise them ! My father was a fuller brush salesman too ! Then electrolux vacs~ Wonderful story on your father’s can do attitude ~ of making it in world ~and your parent’s commitment.

    Same story here.. My father working in sales for a large company in NJ in 1960’s ~ going nowhere wanted to move to CA ~ Along the way one of the companies who responded to his resume was in Milw WI ~ He saw a quality of life for his family in Milw ~ Plus the opportunity to run a whole company ~ management and sales etc.. so I went at 10 yrs old from models wearing the finest in NYC attire to babushka’s of the midwest

    I am thankful I had this midwest experience as people had hobby’s and grew , canned and killed their own food ~ Everyone was a jack of all trades.. and knew how to fix or build anything..
    Nature was my best friend ~

    We all need to reclaim this essence of life that makes us Human’s in the Can do anything with human ingenuity !! and Take care of ourselves..

  • Charlotte

    Hail fellow Chicagoan — what a lovely photo. Although I fled right after college, my family history is intimately braided into the rise and fall of the industrial midwest — was back in January for my grandmother’s 100th birthday.