COOKIE AND THE BAKER'S DOZEN



The Peter And Anna Theobald Family

Front row George, Clara, Grandpa, Olivia, Grandma, Cele
Back row Squibs McGovern (adopted), John (Cookie), Bill

Anna & Peter Theobald

Cookie's Mom & Dad

Mum's Brother And Sisters

Uncle Paul, Aunt Louise, Lil, Aunt Marie


A Brief History



John 1888 to 1971, Lil 1892 to 1980

Lilly and John Theobald




Lil and John Off On Their Honeymoon In Style

My mother and father, Lilly and John Theobald were married in 1911 and had twelve children, six girls and six boys. Five of each grew to adulthood in the old homestead at 58 Mullooly Street, Pittsburgh Pa. Number 13 of the "Baker's Dozen" was my brother-in-law Cliff Spratt. Cliff's parents died at a very early age, and Cliff was welcomed into our family when he married my sister Rita. As with other families during that period, there were some pretty tough times. But this large family was able to put a positive spin on most situations.


Cliff and Rita
Cookie and Cliff 1937
At Cliff and Rita's Wedding
An important part of John's life was spent as a blacksmith for the coal mines in and around Pittsburgh. Even though he was only five-feet six, his well developed arms commanded respect from his peers. Although muscles had little to do with it, he was also well-respected and loved by his family. And devil-the-man who would disparage him around any one of his sons. John spent the last 35 years of his working life as a railroad accountant, and a most respected accountant at that.

Things were tough for everyone during the Great Depression, so many resorted to innovative and often somewhat illegal methods to eke out added funds for food.
I was told that several of the men in our neighborhood including my dad, got together and built sparrow traps. Although each of these tiny birds provided only a tidbit of meat, many hundreds were trapped for food. Everyone had much more time than money, to prepare their catch.

During the 1920's prior to the Depression, the Volstead Act (Prohibition) had been enacted and street gambling stayed in full swing through WWII. I only vaguely remember some of the activities in the late 30's. Much of it didn't make sense to this young lad, but as I got older I began to understand.
Most of the few men like my father, who had a steady albeit modest income, would wager some of it on the "Numbers". It was similar to today's Lottery, but the profits went mostly to organized crime. A three-digit number was played with a bookie and payed off, at least in the late 30's, according to the daily results from the Gulfstream Park Racetrack in Florida. My dad not only played these daily numbers but because his job took him to town every day and in contact with many others, he also wrote (booked) numbers for a small percentage of the take. Yes it was illegal, but times were hard and the Law looked the other way, for a small cut of course.

Dad had a five-gallon whiskey still, for making his own moonshine. This was perfectly legal, as long as it was made in reasonably small amounts for family consumption.


Typical Small Home Still

Even the conscience of my sainted mother Lil, was steeled to bend the rules of Prohibition in order to help support our big family. Dad wore a large overcoat to work every day covering his three-piece suit, and into this coat Lil had sewn at least four hidden pockets for transporting pints of homemade hooch to sell to dad's co-workers. The Theobalds never had much extra money, but we never went hungry either. I was told that when Prohibition was repealed, dad loaned the still to someone to steam off wallpaper and never saw it again.

As a young girl, Lil had worked in a candy factory, and put those skills to good use at home. In order to help make ends meet, she made delicious peppermint candy to sell in the neighborhood. Everyone who was old enough, pitched in on the task. Along with the frequent baking of fresh homemade bread, the peppermint oil made our home the best smelling place in town. John did most of the dough preparation and the muscle work in pulling the taffy, so it didn't take long for him to aquire the nickname "Cookie". From that time on, "Cookie" was how he was addressed by everyone except his children.

I was the youngest of the twelve, so I relied over the years on stories from my siblings to form a picture of their youth. So far, I've included in my site a few of my personal remembrances, and one or two passed on to me. I hope that you enjoy them. I'll add more as time goes by.

Eleven of Twelve In 1933



Front - Theresa
2nd Row - Betty & John
3rd Row - Me, Bob(holding me), Mary, Grace, Cookie
Back Row - Lil, Harry, Rita, Chuck, Larry



Nine of Twelve In 1975



Front -Bob, Me, Theresa, Grace
2nd Row - Mum
3rd Row - Rita, Mary, Betty
Back Row - Harry, Chuck



Seven of Twelve In 2000



Chuck, Theresa, Betty, Rita, Mary, Pete
Bob in Front

Three of Twelve In 2009



Bob, Rita, Pete

Apple Butter Cooking, An Annual Family Event

My Sisters Betty & Rita, Sis-In-Law Lucille, Mum

Around 1942

Hilda, Rosina, Stella
Mrs Obringer, Mum
October 1971
About 1990
Betty, Mary, Sis, Rita
Mum, Lucille, Little Phyllis
Mary, Rita, Bob, Conrad

Fresh Apples
Bob Tends The Kettle




Return To Cookie Thumbs

OR

Return to my Homepage