Celebrities in Bedford – Even Before Martha Stewart

January 30, 2024

Looking at Google analytics, it turns out one of The Citizen’s highest ranking stories, higher than even Luigi’s closing, was the story we ran called: What’s Happening in Bedford: Bedford Edition – Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous  – The Bedford Citizen, May 2, 2023

The story was just for fun. It included famous people who lived in other Bedfords. By far, the most celebrity-filled Bedford is Bedford, NY.  Celebrities include:

Joseph Abboud – fashion designer
Bea Arthur – actress, comedian, and singer
Billy Baldwin – actor
Mariah Carey – singer
Chevy Chase – comedian, writer, and television and film actor
Glenn Close – actress
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones – actors
Richard Gere – actor
Jim Henson – puppeteer, animator, cartoonist, actor, inventor, composer, and screenwriter
Felicity Huffman – actress
Carl Icahn – American business magnate
John Jay – diplomat, Founding Father of the United States
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr – activist
Ralph Lauren – fashion designer
Rooney Mara – actress
E. G. Marshall – actor
Ryan Reynolds – actor
Paul Shaffer – musician
George Soros – billionaire investor, philanthropist, and hedge fund manager
Martha Stewart – television show host
Donald Trump – businessman, former President
Bruce Willis – actor

It turns out that our own Bedford, MA had a celebrity chef and cookbook author back at the beginning of the 20th century. Kara Kerwin from the Bedford Historical Society wrote about her in the Society’s newsletter “The Preservationist” back in November 2015.  Here’s the story:

Before Martha Stewart – Bedford’s Own Celebrity Chef!

Carolyn Putnam Webber, or Carrie, as she was called as a girl, was born in Bedford on June 3, 1882. She was the daughter of Mary A. Putnam and Wallace G. Webber, founder of the brokerage firm of Paine Webber and Co. Even as a girl, Carrie seemed destined for a life devoted to the domestic arts. She is mentioned in the Mass Horticultural Society’s Annual report of 1896 as a returning exhibitor at the Children’s’ Herbarium, who “sent one hundred additional flowering plants and 15 ferns, the mounting and naming being well done.”

She graduated from the Class of 1901 at Concord High School and was listed in Reports of Town Officers of Bedford: 1911 as the sewing instructor for the Bedford schools.

By the time Carolyn was in her late 20s, she was making her living as dietician and lecturer. She penned several cookbooks, including: “Tried and True, 500 Recipes with Practical Culinary Suggestions” (published in Bedford, 1909), “Dozens of Good Things” (published at the Bedford Print Shop in 1915), and “Mutual Service,” an informational book about the wonders of gas service with recipes, produced in 1915 by the Lowell Gas Company.

However it started, her career as a presenter, dietician, and writer continued well after her marriage to Arthur Barnard Bixby in 1918. Carolyn continued to lecture regularly and she authored “The Glenwood Cookbook,” a combined product catalog and cookbook published by the Glenwood Range Company of Taunton in 1929. 

However, a book Carrie published through the Bedford Print Shop in 1918 turned out to be her greatest legacy. Although the Society has yet to acquire an original copy ( we are actively looking, if anyone knows of one out there!), her cookbook, “Two Hundred and Seventy-Five War-Time Recipes,” published in 1918 through the Bedford Print shop is still readily available in reprint.

In her introduction (p. 6), Webber describes the problem of feeding soldiers and those at home during war time: “At this critical time, our nation is called upon to supply food for her men in service…as well as the people at home. Joined in the world war, we have a duty towards our allies and many labor and transportation problems add to the seriousness of the situation.”

As a solution, Carolyn offers recipes that encourage thoughtful conservation over deprivation, “A person’s best asset is a well nourished body, and a nation’s asset a healthy people.” She ends by saying, “…it is the housekeeper’s part in the war to join a volunteer army and meet these demands, at the same time help to avoid rations or restricted diets and stabilize prices.”

So, during the month of November, when our nation not only gathers with family and friends around the dinner table to reflect on all we have to be thankful for, but also recognizes the sacrifices of our soldiers, a story about the life work of Carolyn Webber seems particularly appropriate.

Carrie’s recipe for ‘Thanksgiving Pudding’ from Dozens of Good Things:

1 pt bread crumbs 
1 qt milk 
½ tsp Slade’s cloves
4 yolks 
2 tbsp butter 
½ tsp cinnamon
½ c sugar 
1 c raisins
¼ tsp nutmeg

Bake in moderate oven for two hours. When cool, spread a layer of jelly and frost with meringue of four whites. Brown and serve hot or cold. Quince or currant jelly preferred.

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