J. D. Salinger's Last Supper
Teenagers and young kids served the meal family-style, with heaping platters of beef and big bowls of potatoes and green beans. The table was set with china and flatware, not paper and plastic. We found plenty of medium-rare meat to choose from, and both of us had seconds before moving on to pie.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, our seat at a table close to the pies put us in the same location favored for many years by J. D. Salinger. He regularly made the drive across the river and north a bit from his home in Cornish, New Hampshire. Typically, he’d arrive an hour and a half ahead of the first seating–often to be first in line, recalls Larry Frazer. He’d sit quietly, writing in a spiral-bound notebook. Most people around him were unaware of who he was; the volunteers working the supper treated him like any other guest and protected his privacy.
Last year, though, Salinger’s health had declined to the point where he couldn’t make it to the first of the season’s roast-beef suppers he loved so much, the night we were there; in fact, he would pass away just a few days later. His wife, Colleen, drove over to Hartland for him. The kitchen crew put a plate together to go, and she brought it home to Jerry.
Hartland’s “Famous Roast Beef Suppers” will take place over nine consecutive Saturdays in 2011, starting January 22. For more information: 802-436-2792; hartlandbrickchurch.org. For a selection of church supper recipes from our readers, go to: YankeeMagazine.com/more