Treasured in the family cookbook is my great-grandmother’s banana bread. She credited the recipe to someone named Mary S., but to us, it’s Grandma Little’s banana bread.
Marion McNair was the youngest of her mother’s 10 children, born in 1905 and raised on a farm near Blanchard. Her mother lost her first husband and their two daughters to tuberculosis.
Marion was an energetic person and loved the outdoors. Her mother began taking her fishing at age 3 for perch on the Goose River. She hunted, canned and, even into her 80s, she walked at least a mile every day.
She also loved bananas.
Mom tells me Marion’s dream as a young girl was to live somewhere in the south seas and pick bananas off a tree and eat them and play her piano all day long.
She figures the recipe is probably 100 years old at least. The recipe card says “very old recipe.” No one has a clue who Mary S. is, but her recipe holds up. It’s a very forgiving one, Mom says.
That means you can throw all the ingredients in at once like Dad does, and the bread still turns out OK.
Mom does not advise doing that.
The recipe makes two small loaves or one big one, and can easily be doubled to make four small loaves.
After graduating from the Mayville Normal School, Marion taught school for two years in Wheaton, Minn., and married Dr. R.C. Little in 1926. They had two children, Jim and Audrey, and lived in Mayville for the rest of their lives.
R.C. died in 1972 after serving Traill County as a general practitioner from 1919-71. He delivered more than 2,000 babies and never lost a mother.
Marion died in 2004.
Her cherished recipes live on.
Editor’s note: A beloved former Hillsboro Banner intern, Jack Dura is the capitol reporter for the Bismarck Tribune.
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