Blondie at the Stove
I admit it, I still read the newspaper’s comic strips. I had just finished a rough draft of this article and, it being Sunday, I shed the papers from the front of the house. I save the colorful funnies to read last, as that offsets the alarming news in the front sections.
For me, maybe my interest in the funny papers is because I am a distant (very distant) relative of Abigail, the wife of Ernie Bushmiller. Ernie was the man who created the comic strip Nancy back in 1933. And, although Ernie, born in 1901, is gone (1983), the strip continued.
Here’s how our family knew the Bushmillers: Ernie was married to my parent’s brother-in-law’s sister. Even I can’t get my head around that connection. That brother-in-law (our cousin Edna’s husband) we called “Uncle” Jim, and I remember he used to volunteer to take my brother and me to the zoo. He’d drop us off at the legendary Rumpelmayers on Manhattan’s Central Park South and, while we enjoyed our ice cream treats, he would nip a few doors away and grab his nip at the St. Moritz Hotel’s bar. He is enshrined in my memory.
Family lore has it that Nancy’s aunt in the strip, the elegant Fritzi Ritz, was modeled on Abigail, although with a lot of research I found that Ms. Ritz had a strip all by herself way back in 1922. A fashion researcher would do well to check out some of Fritzi’s ensembles—she was a “fashionista” before that word was coined. Bushmiller took over the strip in the ’30s and eventually the youngsters, Fritzi’s niece Nancy and Nancy’s pal, Sluggo, became the leads.
Brace yourself for more trivia: Phil, Fritzi’s boyfriend in the strip, had distinctive wavy red hair. Ernie had distinctive wavy red hair. Here’s another example of a comic artist (as well as writers) plucking people from their family tree for characters—a sort of in joke. Our area’s own Johnny Hart (B.C., Wizard of Id) was himself a whiz at this.
Nancy Schmantzy, What About Blondie?
I started writing this column after seeing yet another image of Blondie (as in Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead) standing at the stove wielding a spoon and stirring the contents of a saucepan. A little curlicue spirals upward, so the contents are hot. Blondie’s last name in the early days of the strip was Boopadoop. She was a flaming flapper who captured playboy Dagwood’s heart. He was the son of a millionaire, but his disapproving family disinherited him. I’ve got to hand it to the strip’s originator Chic Young. Food, making it and devouring it, was a big part of the strip. Even today, Dag is often drawn visiting with a chef over a lunch counter. A running gag has Bumstead loving spicy hot food and this hash-house chef is happy to accommodate him.
Blondie films, and there were twenty-four of them, featured Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton. The strip also spawned comic books and even bound books. Big biz for sure.
Although Dagwood most often wore a bow tie, I’ve seen a copy of Blondie magazine that depicts Dag with his long tie being inadvertently fed into a food mill. Maybe that’s when he switched to the bow.
But we remember Dagwood Bumstead more for his famous sandwich than anything else. Granted, Blondie and her pal Trixie have opened what appears to be a successful catering business. But from the looks of the often-open refrigerator, Mrs. B. must schlep home all the leftovers, the ingredients for her husband’s concoctions.
The Classic Dagwood Sandwich
I found this on the disposable plate maker Chinet’s site, and it sounds right. Feel free to substitute or eliminate ingredients.
- 1⁄2 c. mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsps. mustard (I use Dijon)
- 1⁄2 tsp. minced garlic
- 10 thick slices sandwich bread
- 1⁄2 lb. each thinly sliced Swiss cheese, roast beef, turkey breast, pastrami, and salami
- 1⁄4 lb. each thinly sliced provolone, mild cheddar, and pepper jack, or Monterey jack
- 5 strips thick-cut bacon, cooked crisp and halved
- 1 medium tomato, cut in 5 slices (I use drained, canned when I’m out of tomato season)
- 10 whole green leaf lettuce leaves (I use Bibb), washed, patted dry, and stem end removed
- 3 red cherry tomatoes
- 3 small pickle slices
- 3 long metal skewers
- Potato chips (accompaniment)
Combine mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl. Stir in chopped garlic. Arrange 5 bread slices on a large cutting board. Spread two tablespoons of the mayo mixture on each slice. Layer the meats and cheeses evenly among the bread slices in this order: Swiss, provolone, roast beef, cheddar, pastrami, pepper jack and salami. Fold the meats so the sandwiches will stack evenly on top of each other.
Top each sandwich with tomato slices and the remaining bread slices. Spread one tablespoon of the remaining mayonnaise mixture on top of each sandwich and lay two bacon halves on top. Place one cherry tomato and one pickle slice through each skewer.
Now Comes the Tricky Part
Carefully build the Dagwood by stacking all five sandwiches on top of each other, separating them by placing two lettuce leaves in between. To keep the sandwich tower from falling over, skewer it all the way through the center. To serve, pull off the desired amount and serve with potato chips on the side.
To be perfectly corny, throw a party with someone (Dad?) playing the main character with gelled cowlicks, and a blonde (Mom?) featuring (real or a wig) blonde curly tresses.