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Thread: Memories of Woolworth's and Chicken in a Van

  1. #1
    LindaSeccaspina's Avatar
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    Which ones leave you quickly, and which ones haunt you for life?

    One of my top ten memories would be the late great Woolworth's in Montreal, Quebec. Every few months my grandmother and I would make the one hour bus trip to the city for wig maintenance.

    You see, the hairdresser had burned off a lot of her hair with a bad perm when she was still in her twenties. As she aged, her hair thinned out and became nonexistent, so she needed 'Eva Gabor' to help her out. After an hour of giggling inside the house of hair, we would finally go off to lunch at Woolworth's .

    Yes, there I would sit in anticipation, with my feet dangling off one of their red stools at the lunch counter. The waitresses all seemed to be painfully thin, and looked the worse for wear. Some of them tapped their pencil on the order book impatiently, while you looked through their menu to order.

    The menu was never a challenge for me, as I always ordered the same thing. It was the traditional turkey dinner, with one scoop of potatoes, dressing, and gravy. Of course the mandatory canned green beans were always lying lifeless on the side. All for the price of $1.99.

    Sometimes the waitress would whisper that it really wasn't turkey. She admitted that when they ran out, they subbed chicken. Frankly, I could never tell the difference. Was it even real meat? Then for dessert we would each have a slice of one of their layer cakes that graced the glass cake containers on the counters.

    There was always a roar of conversation, and business men were flipping their newspapers and chain smoking.

    Sadly, my children's generation will never have memories like that. Let's face it, a Big Mac is not going to hold a lot of mental adjectives.

    So, the recipe below belongs in my children's memory tank like Woolworth's is stored deep down in mine. When I come to visit they know that the first meal I will make them is Chicken Divan.

    When they were young, they would peek through the glass over door and watch the cheese sauce bubble. Then, like clock work they would ask me not to forget to make the caesar salad also. Yes, to them, those two things belonged together like peanut butter and jam.

    It seems like yesterday when I could hear the voice of my oldest son calling his brother in for dinner. Sky would immediately interrupt whatever his brother was involved in and scream at him in excitement.

    "Hurry Perry, I'm hungry!"

    "Mum is making Chicken in a Van!"

    You see in his mind I guess he could never hear the correct pronunciation of the words. Or maybe he really thought the chicken came from inside a van somewhere. I never really did find out why, like a lot of other childhood mysteries. So the name just stuck. To this day everyone in the family still calls it by that name.

    Also, just like Woolworths we occasionally substitute left over turkey for chicken. As the waitress told me years ago - no one really notices the difference.



    Instead of the caesar salad now, we sometimes make bean salad, or have fresh sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. Yes, that is fresh basil and feta cheese on top.

    As the Italians say,

    "One can not have enough cheese or memories, can we?"

    Salut!



    Chicken in a Van or Classic Chicken Divan
    1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen broccoli, chopped or spears
    12 oz. chicken, cooked and cut up
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1/2 c. mayonnaise
    2 tsp. lemon juice
    6 to 8 tbsp shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
    Buttered bread crumbs

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook broccoli to soften. Drain. Place broccoli in bottom of 1 1/2 quart casserole, cover with layer of chicken. Set aside. Mix soup with mayonnaise and lemon juice.

    Spoon soup mixture over chicken. Top with cheese and then bread crumbs. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until crumbs are brown. Serves 4 to 6.



    Words and Images Linda Seccaspina 2011 :roll:
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  2. #2
    Senior Member janell2009's Avatar
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    I find it very humbling what my now 30 plus year old children remember from child hood, I always hoped for some great ones. I know I have some and they are the simple things, not the complicated ones. Smells are big... and if it is Chicken in a Van... YEAH! Love the story.. thanks for that..

  3. #3
    LindaSeccaspina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janell2009
    I find it very humbling what my now 30 plus year old children remember from child hood, I always hoped for some great ones. I know I have some and they are the simple things, not the complicated ones. Smells are big... and if it is Chicken in a Van... YEAH! Love the story.. thanks for that..

    My kids have memories now that they are grown.. its not the Disney vacation one they remember.. They remember me taking them to the airport to watch the plane come in.. or the local places I took them.
    Yup Chicken in a Van hahaha

    HUGGGGGGG

  4. #4
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    You can never tell what a child will remember. My sister in law brought my nephew to visit in Florida when they were on one of their many trips to Disney. He was only 3 at the time, but she said she wanted him to have special memories of his childhood. When they got back home to Massachusetts after 10 days at Disney, my nephew's Nana Pauline asked him about his trip. All my nephew could talk about was my cat Cousin Vinnie, and all the buttons on the elevator of the high rise I lived in. To this day, he can't tell you anything specific about visiting Mickey, but he will never forget Cousin Vinnie!!

  5. #5
    Super Member janRN's Avatar
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    My son still asks for Chicken Promised John----chicken parmiagian (sp?). Thanks for the great post and sharing your memory and recipe.

  6. #6
    Super Member sharoney's Avatar
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    Thank you so much for your lovely story. (and the recipe- I bookmarked it) I have those memories of my grandmother's cooking- chicken and dumplings, buttermilk biscuits, home-grown and canned green beans and blackeyed peas. Smells like heaven!

  7. #7
    LindaSeccaspina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meemersmom
    You can never tell what a child will remember. My sister in law brought my nephew to visit in Florida when they were on one of their many trips to Disney. He was only 3 at the time, but she said she wanted him to have special memories of his childhood. When they got back home to Massachusetts after 10 days at Disney, my nephew's Nana Pauline asked him about his trip. All my nephew could talk about was my cat Cousin Vinnie, and all the buttons on the elevator of the high rise I lived in. To this day, he can't tell you anything specific about visiting Mickey, but he will never forget Cousin Vinnie!!
    LOL
    That is so cute.. Kids would rather have a cardboard box instead of a toy some days I think.. and elevator buttons:)

  8. #8
    LindaSeccaspina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janRN
    My son still asks for Chicken Promised John----chicken parmiagian (sp?). Thanks for the great post and sharing your memory and recipe.
    I really like that name Promise John..:) That is a story in itself

  9. #9
    LindaSeccaspina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sharoney
    Thank you so much for your lovely story. (and the recipe- I bookmarked it) I have those memories of my grandmother's cooking- chicken and dumplings, buttermilk biscuits, home-grown and canned green beans and blackeyed peas. Smells like heaven!
    Wow Sharoney.. we should all have a get together and have that menu..:)

  10. #10
    Super Member sustraley's Avatar
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    Linda

    Saw Woolworth's and had to click on your story. My mom worked at several different Woolworth's. So, I have many memories. One being that I would walk to her work after school. I always had to sit at the lunch counter and have a piece of their cheesecake. It was the best. I finally got the recipe from one of the ladies that worked at the counter. It is just not the same as eating it there. My mom passed away 6 years ago this month. Thanks for letting me remember.

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