Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vegan MoFo, Day 25: History of the Author

As promised, here's my lovely illumination of the lady behind all of these great recipes, Jean Prescott Adams,  whose real name was Leona Alford Malek. As I found out, she had quite a reach to readers at the time.

Leona Alford was born in 1878 in Illinois to Albert and Mary Alford. I couldn't figure out why the 1930 census said she married at 24 years old and her husband at the time, Alois Malek, married at 37 years old. It's because she was married once before! Leona wed Frantz Krag in 1902 when she was 24 years old. Later,she married Alois Malek (10 years her junior) in 1925. In the 1910 census, it lists that she was doing "litterary work" at a publishing house and that she and Frantz had once had a child who was no longer living at that time. Her first husband, Frantz, was from Denmark and had emigrated to the US in 1897. At the time of the 1910 census, they had four lodgers and Frantz' brother, Erik, living in their house.

By the time of the 1920 census, Leona was 42 years old, listed as widowed (though I was able to find Frantz in 1930 and 1940 remarried), and living with her mother, Mary, and a couple of lodgers. Leona's father, Albert, had also died. Her work status is illegible in the census.

In the 1930 census, Leona is listed as being a lecturer at a newspaper, and her newest husband, Alois Malek, was then a broker in real estate.

Leona Malek was the "Suzy Homemaker" before there was such a thing. She served as the first Prudence Penny for the Chicago Herald-Examiner, and this article says that before her role at the newspaper, she worked as "the domestic science director at a Chicago slaughterhouse (information politely left out of her bio once she became Prudence)." Not only did Mrs. Malek produce Meatless Meals, she also wrote a lovely book called The Business of Being a Housewife: A Manual to Promote Household Efficiency and Economy under her pseudonym Jean Prescott Adams. Mrs. Malek actually served as the Domestic Science Director at Armour and Co. in 1917 when she wrote The Business of Being a Housewife. There were various Prudence Penny's and Marian Manners at major newspapers around the country (think Dear Abby or Ann). Even men held these positions. She's even on imdb!

The 1940 census showed Leona at 62 years of age and unemployed but looking for work. It lists her occupation as a home economics editor for a newspaper. This year of census also indicated that Mrs. Malek had made it through 2 years of college. It would seem that her husband might have retired by that time. I was unable to find death notifications or grave sites for either Malek, but Leona is known to have died in 1951.

You can buy a copy of Meatless Meals at several locations: here ($90.00, holy cow), here (another $90.00!), and here (about $3). Or if you want to peruse the 1931 version of the book (mine is the 1943 update), then you can go here for free. If you'd like to read her other book, The Business of Being a Housewife, you can find a digitized copy here. It's SUPER dated, meat-heavy, and was written for the dual purpose of also promoting Armour products.

When originally researching Meatless Meals, I came across one blogger who tried a recipe from the book called Peanut Butter Soup and didn't apparently like it because S/HE NEVER BLOGGED AGAIN...

Anyway, back to your regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow :)

Hooray for putting my history degree to use. This would be an awesome book topic...hmmm...


VMF 2011 Day 25: Kielbasa Sausage, Your Butt Cheeks Is Warm...
VMF 2010 Day 25: NONE

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jes: I'm glad that history degree has panned out ! Thanks for the "Gertrude"--marriage certificate-- Leona, nee Alford, Krag, Malek" author bio. Leona, late daughter by Krag, and Mr. Malek as well as Leona's parents Leander (Ohio census)a/k/a Albert Alford and Mary, nee Parsons are buried at Jericho Cem., in Eagle Twp., Waukesha Co., Wisconsin. From:One of Leona's distant cousins, Richard Alford with a history degree also !