Friday, October 14, 2005

George Leonard Herter

In this post at his NatureBlog, Chas evokes the eccentric ghost of George Leonard Herter, pioneer in outdoor catalogs, inspiration to our youth, author of both The Bull Cook and George the Housewife, and holder of ... odd opinions. Those quoted in NatureBlog are relatively conventional.

George the Housewife can be described as a male Heloise for the barking mad-- and Im not sure that Heloise doesn't approach that point herself. But Bull Cook and Historical Recipes is worth owning both to read aloud at any table where the wine flows, and because some of the recipes-- Chas and I both make "Doves Wyatt Earp", for instance-- are pretty good..

But the history is why you buy the book. My favorite line in all the Herter ouvre is "The Virgin Mary was very fond of spinach", closely followed by "It is a well known fact [ a favorite Herter locution ] that Beethoven was fond of Spam." Other quotes from a good Amazon review, which save me a trip to my library, are: "Sauerbraten was invented by Charlemagne...Henry the VIII actually never amounted to anything and would not have made a good ditchdigger...In 1212 St. Francis went to the Holy Land. When he came back he taught his followers a simple way to poach eggs...Pate De Foie Gras was first made for Joan of Arc by one of her army cooks ..."

His African book The Truth About Hunting in Today's Africa (1963), which features photos of dead birds being thrown upside down to recreate the author's shots, also has at least one immortal line: "Most people don't realize that being eaten by a hyena doesn't hurt very much".

It is well worth getting any of the above, and reading them aloud to friends and family. I hope it didn't warp all those young bloggers mentioned below...

5 comments:

Pete Rondello said...

George Leonard Herter has provided countless evenings of entertaining reading for me. From my tattered copy of the 1970 Herter's sporting goods catalog, to the 1959 Chrome-Fiberglas Boat book, to all of the "BULL COOK" series...I even have "George The Housewife", "How to Get Out of the Rat Race and Live on $10 a Month", "Make The Finest Wines..." and I just ordered "How to Live With a Bitch"...that one set me back over 100 bucks. But, I intend on reading it all, many times. GLH is one guy I'd love to have lunch with. I'd just let him go. My grandkids will wonder why I have these books on my shelf at the cabin. But, I don't care. George feels like a zany pal to me. Misguided, but OK at heart. Does anyone know of ANY biographical information? Please write me at: refelo@hotmail.com. Thanks!

Steve Bodio said...

He's a freak of nature but i wouldn't be without him-- and might have enjoyed his company. If you ever find a cheap copy of "How to Live with a Bitch" let me know...

Robert said...

GLH is my favorite raving lunatic of all times. My cabin in the woods of Maine had all his books on it. I have loved his seminal "How to Live With A Bitch" for forty years. His fishing tips are usually pretty good, if sometimes a bit bizarre. I've met his son, a pleasant, intelligent, and perfectly normal writer, who has been active in Maine Audubon and other venues back home. I own nearly every book (anybody have "How to Get Out of the Rat RAce and Live on $10 a Month" cheap? and read them with great pleasure. LIke Pete, the idea of sitting down to lunch with him is entrancing.

hotpepperman said...

I am researching a tiller with the name Herter's on the tine shield that looks exactly like a Troy bilt horse model. If you know of anyone with a 1960's edition of a Herter's catalogue with tillers for sale I would like to get a scan of the page if possible or any other pertinent info, Thanks

Kenneth Simms said...

I own a Herter's Model 1100 Tiller S/N HGT 10113. Purchased 2/6/76. It has a Tecumseh HH 60-105098F engine, S/N 5245D. I've been looking for any history on it to no avail. I'm restoring it as we speak. It does look like a Troy Bilt and am going to try Troy Bilt seals in the transmission. I have the original operator's manual. This tiller was own by my father and I've owned it for about 15 years. It was running when we parked it. I'm replacing the carb and will have it running this weekend. Any history about this tiller would be appreciated. No one I've talked to ever heard of it.