Barbara Barteaux’s Cheese Tomatoes

With three ingredients. Two of which are in the name.

A slightly more protein-rich iteration appeared in the November 10, 1933 edition of the Oakland (California) Tribune:

Here is a start for your recipe file that takes the rating of “unusual:”

Tomato and American Cheese Casserole.

6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
3 large tomatoes, sliced
1 dozen soda crackers
salt and pepper
1-1/4 cups hot water
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 or 1 package finely cubed American cheese

Arrange eggs and tomatoes in alternate layers in a greased casserole. Season each layer. Roll crackers fine and pour hot water over two-thirds of them. Add 1/2 the butter and beat until smooth. Add cheese and mix well. Pour over tomatoes and eggs. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Dot with remaining butter. Bake 20 minutes in a hot oven (450 deg.). Serves six.

The most likely candidate for our Barbara Barteaux shows up as an 8-year-old in Lynn City, Massachusetts in the 1940 census:

Looks like Barbara’s dad was a photostat operator. You probably haven’t heard of that job, unless you have a thing for vintage office equipment. When we think back to a time before our modern workspace inventions, we forget that computers aren’t the only omnipresent office equipment to have a long family tree.

There was a time before photocopiers. (Click here if you need a refresher on how traditional photocopiers work.)

Xerography: ionic charges move heat-sensitive pigment

The xerographic process (that is, the one that makes traditional Xerox machines work) relies on the use of negatively-charged, heat sensitive, powdered pigment called toner. Light shines on an original document, and light-colored areas of the document reflect that light onto a drum or plate that has been positively charged. The light neutralizes the charge wherever it hits, so the drum ends up with a positive ionic charge only where the image was dark.

Because the positive charge attracts the negatively-charged toner, the drum picks up pigment in a way that matches the original document. It then passes that pigment to a piece of new paper that’s been given an ionic charge, and the paper is then heated and rolled to set the pigment into the sheet. (If you’ve ever heard someone talk about the “fuser” in the copier, that’s what the fuser does–without it, you’d get a sheet of paper with the design stuck to it with static electricity. Very useful, until you sneeze.)

From the mid-1910s until the photocopier came to market in 1959, the state-of-the-art method for automated document reproduction was the photostat machine. The short version is that it worked sort of like a very large camera that used special photographic paper to make negative copies of an image, then positive copies from the negative copies. But for a longer explanation, let’s look at an excerpt from The New York Times reprinted in the January 21, 1921 edition of the Galveston Tribune:

The Process

The subject, picture, or sheet of music or book page to be reproduced is placed on what the operator calls the shelf, beneath and in front of the big camera. A sheet of glass is placed over it. The positive is photographed direct from the paper negative, which is placed for the purpose in exactly the same position as was the original subject, on the shelf in front of the camera, and under the sheet of glass.

In the photostat negative the color values only are reversed, a page of black type on a white page appearing as white letters on a black background, but the position of the subject is not reversed, as is the case in a photograph negative. The photostat negative shows the position exactly as in the original. The prism before the lens prevents the reversing of the position of the subject. Wherefore, the photostat negative is found as useful as a positive, if the subject happens to be type or music, for reference. Many more photostat negatives are being turned out than positives. They cost just half as much as the positives, as they represent just one operation, instead of two.

Photostatic negative of an 1853 naturalization petition. From
Photostatic positive of an 1853 naturalization petition. From From

Detail from Commercial Camera Company Photostat advertisement in Engineering News, 1913. From WikiMedia Commons.

From the box of J.L. from Westborough, Massachusetts.

Barbara Barteaux’s Cheese Tomatoes

Ritz Crackers
6 slices dark American cheese
1 lg. can Hunt’s whole tomatoes

Crush Ritz crackers onto bottom of baking pan–break apart (1/2 can of) whole tomatoes and put on top of crackers–do not use juice–3 slices of American cheese on top of them and then add rest of tomatoes. 3 slices of cheese on top, then top with more crushed Ritz crackers.

Cook 1/2 [hour] to 45 minutes at 325 to 350 deg.

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