The Formal Picnic

IMG_0001 the formal picnic IMG_0002 formal picnic theatre program

This is a little much, even for 1963. Here we have a “Theater-party Picnic” presented in Better Homes and Gardens’ Barbecues and Picnics. In the smaller photo you can see the theatre program, I couldn’t get it all into the big one. It is a program for “Ravina” - the closest thing I could find to this was the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, which features concerts and theatrical performances. (Why do they already have the program if they’re about to go to the theater?)

I can’t believe that people who are actually going to the theater, who are all dressed up (though really, they look pretty every-day by 1963 standards) are going to “take supper…and enjoy dining on the lawn.” Excuse me, but what lawn would this be? I mean, suppose you were going somewhere off-Broadway. What do you do, spread the plaid blanket out on the sidewalk?

And here’s the menu that you are going to be (a) cooking, (b) setting out on the theatre’s back forty (hah) and (c) cleaning up and stuffing back into the car before the curtain rises:

Chilled Fruit Toddy
Cold Roast Chicken
Assorted Condiments
Curried Picnic Salad
Salt Sticks
Limed Pineapple-in-the-Shell
Cheese and Cracker Tray
Hot Coffee

Oh, plus “flares for a touch of atmosphere” and a candle in a red glass like they had (in plastic netting) in “fancy” restaurants back in the day. Trying to eat roast chicken and drink hot coffee while attempting to avoid grass stains on the theatre dress - I don’t know about this. It’s risky, is what it is.

And don’t get me started on the flares and the candle. It’s a scenario rich in the possibilities of disaster. I predict a comedy of errors: dramatic grease stains, spilled coffee, burnt fingers, messy condiments everywhere. The dénouement: a mad panic to get everything packed up in time. These people may miss the first act altogether. Which might be for the best, since the production appears to be an amateur one – most professional theatres do not sport a white picket fence.

Even if a young Henry Kissinger (or possibly it is Steve Allen, who might be more the theatre type) does seem to be enjoying the Salt Sticks there in the background. Love those light-blue shoes he has on, they match the jacket. Actually they look like running shoes, don’t they? Where’d he get them in 1963?

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6 thoughts on “The Formal Picnic

  1. Thanks for mentioning us! Formal picnics like this are still happening all summer long at Ravinia Festival. Some of our patrons go all out! :) I always love seeing how much work goes into these elaborate set ups. A lot of people will match their picnics to the type of music that is being played. It is really fun to see how much creativity goes into the themes. It’s not uncommon to see a little table set up with flowers, candles and beautiful tablecloths. I just love it. Maybe we need to add a section on our website for people to just see the picnics!

    p.s. You have a great site! I look at it all the time and was really excited to see Ravinia listed on this entry. Thanks!

  2. Wow – happen to be looking for a nostalgic holiday salad for a pal of mine – when lo and behold I stumbled upon your site – simply hilarious – your comments priceless…and even scarier, my own mother could have been that women as shown in the magazine…not only do I recall going to the lawn and having a chicken dinner (and more than just once) (not jesting you here) before we were to take part as the audience to watch a Midnight’s Summer Dream production or some other Shakespeare play…

    funny thing – my favorite cookbook is an out of print cookbook that boasts a ’51 copyright…though it originally was printed right after WWII – the title says it all…though I dare not share the title, since I like to scoop up every copy of this cookbook out there…

    nice post you have done here – I will certainly sign up to receive your future posts…

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