Laurabelle Hockensmith – Born 110 Years Ago Today

Chester Smith and Laurabelle Hockensmith 50th Anniversary

Laurabelle Hockensmith was born May 7, 1902 in Ottawa, Kansas, the 13th of 14 children born to Samuel Francis Hockensmith and Louisa (Lou) Case. Laurabelle was the younger sister of my (step)grandfather Glenn Hockensmith. I didn’t know Laurabelle well, but when I visited my grandparents in Junction City, Kansas, we would go to her home or they would drive out to the farm. Laurabelle and her husband, Chester (I think he went by Chet), had a daughter about my age and I think my grandparents wanted me to have someone my age to spend time with during my summer vacations at the farm.

Chester Smith and Laurabelle Hockensmith

I didn’t know until recently that Laurabelle shared an interest in genealogy and I am fortunate to have a copy of a Hockensmith and Case family history that she wrote in 1981. I’ll share some of it here at a later time.

I remember her as she looks in the picture at the top of the post.

Does anyone have pictures, stories, newspaper clippings, etc. to share about Laurabelle?

Food on Friday: Breakfast of Champions

The first time I visited my new Hockensmith (step)grandparents (Glenn and Viola), breakfast delivered a bit of a shock and a delight. Sure, I’d been allowed sugar at breakfast in the form of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes or Post Alphabits cereal or just plain old sugar on the unsweetened stuff, but never before had I witnessed what passed as breakfast on the Hockensmith farm.

There sat Grandpa and his sons, with serving-dish-size bowls and tablespoons at their places. The first thing that went into the bowl wasn’t unusual – just some bran flakes or Post Toasties. It was the next item that drew my attention – a slice of chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting. A BIG piece of chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting. A little milk and they were set. Breakfast was on.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to ruin a good piece of chocolate cake by mixng it up with milk and bran flakes. And I was pretty sure Mom wouldn’t go for a breakfast of chocolate cake solo. So I opted for cereal the usual way and hoped I’d get some of that chocolate cake later.

I remember a time when Mom made it her mission to find the best chocolate cake recipe. In my mind, I have associated this memory with Viola’s chocolate cakes – that mom went on this quest to find a cake that dad(Jim) liked as well as his mother’s – but that may just be a figment of my imagination. What I feel certain I remember is this:

Mom baked a chocolate cake nearly every week, trying out recipe after recipe. We had red velvet, devil’s food, cake made with buttermilk, cake made with mayonnaise, and cake made with pickle juice. I’m not kidding. I remember a cake made with pickle juice.  It had a little tangy taste to it. In the end, it didn’t make the cut as THE chocolate cake recipe. In fact, I don’t know what cake recipe did earn that distinction. At some point, clothes were getting tight and the numbers on the scale were getting higher and mom was forced to abandon the weekly search for the perfect chocolate cake.

I’ve done a little internet search and cannot find a recipe for chocolate cake that uses pickle juice. I wonder why?

Instead, I offer you this recipe for chocolate cake made with mayonnaise from Best Recipes of the Great Food Companies. The story behind the cake as told in the cookbook: “In 1937 the Hellmann’s Company managers learned that Mrs. Paul Price, wife of a sales distributor, had created an astonishingly rich cake. The deep, dark chocolate flavor and moist texture were attributed to the addition of an unconventional ingredient: mayonnaise.”

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
Makes one 9-inch layer cake

2 cups unsifted flour                                                   1 2/3 cups sugar
or 2 1/4 cups unsifted cake flour                                1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa                                       1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda                                      1 1/3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bottoms of two 9-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans. In medium bowl, stir flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside. In large bowl with mixer at high speed, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla, scraping bowl occasionally, 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in mayonnaise until blended. Add flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with water, beginning and ending with flour. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove; cool completely on racks. Frost as desired.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****

* Does anyone have Viola’s chocolate cake recipe? Any of her other recipes?
* Please share a breakfast story!

Treasure Chest Thursday: Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavor?

My gum shoe - a gift from Grandmother Hockensmith

A punny solution to the problem of what to do with your gum when you have to spit it out, but it’s too good to throw away.

A gum shoe….. get it?

A gift from (my step) Grandmother Viola Templeton Hockensmith.


Piggy bank from Grandmother Hockensmith

And this is my cute piggy bank. If I’m not mistaken, my sisters each have a personalized piggy bank as well. How about the other grandkids? I’m betting you got one too. If you have your piggy bank, you should send me a picture of it and we’ll have a little piggy party.

Viola enjoyed painting ceramics and went to the ceramics shop in Junction City every week to work on gifts for her family and enjoy the socializing as well. I loved going with her when I visited. Maybe I’ll post some of my ceramics another time. My pet turtles were probably the inspiration for this last one.

Gift from Grandmother Hockensmith





And because the refrain of this song keeps going through my head, I’ll include it for your listening pleasure! (And it gives me a chance to try out embedding!)