When the old cookbook found its original owner

Francis Nickerson says the book serves as a ‘lifeline’ for friends and family as people too old to cook and the ‘oldsters’ stay poor

A man found his mother’s vintage school cafeteria cookbook. He’s now had the decades-old recipes reprinted

When Francis Nickerson found his mother’s old copy of her school cafeteria cookbook in a taxidermist’s box at her house, it served as “an act of love”.

The 91-year-old rarely had time to cook, he told the Mirror.

“My mum has been very reclusive since the Parkinson’s disease she had came on,” he said. “She never wanted to cook. She really was a shop assistant.”

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Nickerson had found the old cookbook in a box at his mother’s house, which his sister was moving out of. It served as “an act of love” and he brought it to an auction house to try to sell it.

However, Cathy Clark, the auctioneer, wasn’t so impressed with the prospect of profit. She immediately said she “couldn’t do that”, according to the Mirror.

“We only wanted to sell what we could sell so there was absolutely no way I would take it off them,” Clark said.

Clark then found Nickerson’s nephew and gave him the cookbook, which was published in 1957.

Nickerson wanted the culinary inheritance to be passed on to his nephew, with two main aims in mind: to give friends and family some food but also help out the elderly.

“I did think about having it on sale but I couldn’t think of one collector who was going to buy it,” he said. “The purpose of the book is to keep my grandmother’s memory going.

“I think it’s invaluable to a lot of people,” he said. “But there’s another good reason, too – this book serves as a lifeline.

“If something else got taken from my family or friends they would simply go hungry. There are millions who are too old to cook. And the oldsters have never got enough to eat. So they just go hungry.”

This article has been amended to include reference to Cathy Clark

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