MOTHER MASETTI’S FEBRUARY 25, 2013
For a number of years after Aunt Mae had purchased the cabin at Big Bear in 1933, we would travel up there as soon as the snow (b-r-r) was gone, and we would continue till after Labor Day when the place had to be secured against the snowy and frigid weather during the winter months. Nobody went near it then.
We had a nice schedule for the drive from San Juan Capistrano — never in a rush. Our cars were filled with clean sheets and linens which had been brought down the mountain dirty when we had closed it up; lots of food items because everyone developed a huge appetite in the high altitude. Driving leisurely, of course, we drove east on Baseline in San Bernardino, then we took the road north leading up through Waterman Canyon to Crestline, and onto Lake Arrowhead, then to Big Bear at the east end of the Lake in a development called Peter Pan Woodland Club.
After leaving Baseline, we only drove a few blocks because then we had to slow down and make a left turn into a strictly residential area. This would be very leisurely because right in the middle of the block, we would stop and there was this one house which had been turned in to Mother Masetti’s Italian Restaurant. Now don’t ask me how you could have a place of business right in the middle of look-alike residential homes. The neighbors must have been very agreeable, and the food was ‘way above the norm.
Since we had been so “leisurely” packing the cars, it was not an early start, so when we arrived at Mother Masetti’s, it would be maybe around 1:00 PM. As you started up the steps to the front porch, Mother Masetti would come racing out to greet you. I can see her now in my mind’s eye, standing with open arms, her reddish-bobbed hair, a huge smile, and speaking English with heavy Italian accent.
She was tall, top-heavy, if you know what I mean. In this respect, she reminded me of Aunt Mae, except Aunt Mae was very trim in the rear department. Mother Massetti dressed in plain cotton dresses, always with the apron. She was the main cook, who put together all the delectable sauces, the main menu in fact; and during the serving hours there were servers in the kitchen to put up the orders, while Mother Massetti saw to it that all was in order and running smoothly — also being the ambassador of good will.
The home’s interior had been renovated to accommodate customers as a restaurant. The entire front of the house was now one big room where it had been the living room on the left, and the dining room, and on the right was where the master bedroom and bath had been. On the left rear, the kitchen was still in place, but was enlarged by taking in the bedroom which had been on the right rear of the original home. Flooring was the original hardwood, the furniture just plain wooden tables and chairs; and of course, the red and white checkered table cloths.
The food was to die for, and there was always lots of it. I would usually have her spaghetti and meatballs, but everything on the menu was excellent. Wine and beer were available — for those old enough. We all had a fun time while there because of the friendliness and camaraderie of everyone.
Lots of people knew about that off-the-beaten track place. Movie stars, who spent time in LakeArrowhead, would stop in for the fabulous food, and it was bandied about that some customers were from the gangster set.
After our somewhat lengthy lunch, we would then get back on the road for the final leg of our journey to the cabin. I think there was method in all this madness because our group’s tummies would be quite full, and this meant when we arrived at the cabin, Aunt Mae and Mom would not have to get into their cabin work clothes — cotton dresses and aprons — and cook up a big dinner. We had to be satisfied with snacks.
But that was okay. We had been with our friend, Mother Massetti and had a great time with her. She was one of a kind. And then we would stop there on our way home for more of her culinary delights. We always stopped there, going up or coming down off the mountain.
MELITAS FORSTER MONDAYS WITH MELITAS