Milton’s Blue Bird Tea Room

By Muriel Bristol | September 18, 2022

Nellie B. Tasker was born in Milton, September 15, 1866, daughter of George W. and Lydia (Jones) Tasker.

Nellie B. Tasker married in Farmington, NH, September 24, 1890, Royal K. Webber, both of Milton. She was a shoe stitcher, aged twenty-four years, and he was a carpenter, aged thirty years. He was born in Shapleigh, ME, October 15, 1859, son of Greenleaf and Sarah C. (Grant) Webber.

Royal K. Webber, a house carpenter, aged thirty-seven years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of ten years), Nellie B. Webber, aged thirty-three years (b. NH). Royal K. Webber owned their house, free-and-clear.

MILTON. Mrs. R.K. Webber is suffering from a concussion of the spine, caused by a fall on some steps (Farmington News, April 22, 1904).

Nellie B. Webber was secretary of the Lewis W. Nute grange in Milton in 1906. Bard B. Plummer, Jr., was its grange master, and Ruth L. Fall was its lecturer. It had 54 members.

Royal K. Webber, a leather-board mill carpenter, aged forty-nine years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of twenty years), Nellie B. Webber, aged forty-three years (b. NH). Royal K. Webber owned their house, free-and-clear.

Royal K. Webber, a house carpenter, aged sixty years (b. ME), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fourteenth (1920) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Nellie B. Webber, aged fifty-three years (b. NH). Royal K. Webber owned their house on Lower Main Street, free-and-clear. (Milton directories of 1902 through 1917 sited their house on South Main Street, opposite Charles Street).

In 1921 a woman named “Bettina” asked the readers of the Boston Globe’s Household Column for advice on establishing a tearoom in a rural mountain community. She had replies from “Mrs. Restmore,” who had maintained such a shop for fifteen years,” and “1921 Bride,” who gave information on the menu and prices at her favorite tearoom.

How I Conducted a Tea Room For 15 Years. Dear Bettina – Perhaps I can help you in your ideas for a tea room. First thing I want to suggest is an appropriate name. This means much in a business way, as you naturally want it to become “famous,” so give it a name easy to remember and suggestive of its surroundings. If you do not care to spend much for furnishings and as you say it’s in the mountains why not make your tables and chairs of birch wood, of maple or even pine. Any one who is handy with a hammer can gather the younger limbs of trees and with a few boards for the tops of tables and seats for chairs, can do much to furnish a rustic little tea room, naming it after the wood you use in furnishing it, such as “Cedarmere,” “The Birch wood Tea Room,” or “Pine Top Tea Room,” or if you prefer things plainer. I would suggest buying just common kitchen chairs and tables and painting them your favorite colors. Now for what to serve. I find in my experience home-cooked food is always best so try to do your own cooking, rather than buying things, as I know some do. I have run a tea room for last 15 years, off and on, making good in a location and selling when some one wanted to buy, and this has always been my one best drawing card, to serve the best food at popular prices and be cordial as you can to all who honor you with their trade, for it means more customers and money in your pocket. I wish you could see my tea room. I just love it, for I planned, and had it built by my own ideas. Later on I will send you different ways I serve my food, sandwiches, etc., and if I can help you in any other way let me know. – Mrs. Restmore (Boston Globe, March 10, 1921).

Dear Bettina – I saw your request, and just had to tell you about a cute little tea room we were in one day last Summer when on a trip. It was finished in blue, rather a bright shade, and they served sandwiches, such as cheese and nut, olive and cheese, ham, jam, marmalade, and tea, coffee and milk. They also had banana and walnut salad which had the banana sliced lengthwise with walnuts and mayonnaise and lettuce leaves. They charged 15 and 20 cents for the sandwiches and drinks were 10 cents. The salad was 30 cents. They also carried tonic and ice cream, and cigars and tobacco. It was very cute and they had just as simple things as they possibly could. Any further questions regarding this tea room will be gladly answered. A 1921 Bride (Boston Globe, March 10, 1921).

In response to a question regarding licensing such an establishment, “Mrs. Restmore” replied:

Tea Room Lunches. Dear E.E. – It all depends on the locality whether you have to get a license to conduct a tea room. I should not open one if I were you until I went to see the Selectmen of the town. I have a friend who started one, only to be told she could open week-days, but not Sundays. That was her busiest day, so she considered it best not to go further. This is a list of what I serve: Sandwiches – Date butter sandwich, 15 cents; chopped egg sandwich, 25 cents; chopped egg and lettuce, 20 cents; chopped ham and egg, 25 cents; chopped roast beef, 15 cents; hot roast beef sandwich, 25 cents; chopped chicken, 25 cents; hot chicken sandwich, 35 cents. Drinks – Pot tea, 4 people, 25 cents; cocoa, cup, 10 cents; coffee, 10 cents. – Mrs. Restmore (Boston Globe, May 3, 1921).

(A silver dime being worth presently about $2.00 to $2.50, these sandwiches would now be priced at between $3.00 and $8.25, depending on their contents and temperature; cocoa and coffee at $2.00 to $2.50 per cup, and a four-person pot of tea at $5.00 to $6.25).

In 1925, an anonymous “Tea Room Chef” sought recipes – “not too hard to make” – from the subscribers of the Boston Globe’s cookery column. They should be suitable for a tearoom. Here follow some of the dessert recipe suggestions offered by cooks from all over New England.

Rice Pudding. One package dates, washed, stoned and cut fine; 2 tablespoons dry rice, 1 quart milk, salt. Put in double boiler and cook three hours. Stir often at first. Serve with cream or hard sauce if wanted. Extra nice, but it is very good without either. – Last and Least (Boston Globe, November 4, 1925).

Chocolate Rolls. Dear Sisters and Tea Room Chef – Should you care for something different and very delicious just try Chocolate Roll (small amount), 2 egg yolks, 2 heaping teaspoons sugar, 2 heaping teaspoons cocoa, 2 egg whites and vanilla. Beat the egg yokes and sugar together until well creamed. Add the cocoa and vanilla. Lastly add the stiffly beaten egg whites. Spread in a shallow pan and bake about 30 minutes. When cool enough, spread with sweetened whipped cream, roll as you would a jelly roll, cover the whole with remainder of cream and put in ice chest till ready to serve. Won’t last long, too good, but try it and report to Grandma’s Pal. (Boston Globe, January 4, 1926).

Peanut Butter Squares. Tea Room Chef – Would like to have you try these peanut butter squares and report: Two eggs, 1 cup sugar. 1 cup peanut butter, 1 tablespoon butter, pastry. Mix eggs and sugar together, then add peanut butter and butter. Cook mixture over hot water until thick. Then allow to cool. Put teaspoons on squares of pastry, fold corners toward center and bake in a hot oven, temperature 425 degrees. This recipe makes 2½ dozen small squares. – Dippity Fig (Boston Globe, January 8, 1926).

Magic Cream Puffs for Tea Room Chef. One cup boiling water poured over ½ cup of butter or oleo; put on stove and boil, add 1 cup sifted flour, beat it in 5 minutes, keeping kettle on stove. When cool, add 3 eggs, one at a time and beat well after adding each one, then add a little soda size of a pea; beat again for a few seconds and put on greased cookie tin, teaspoonful at a time. This makes 14 and never fails. Bake in rather hot over 30 minutes, filling when cold with whipped cream or cooked filling. – London Girl (Boston Globe, January 21, 1926).

The “Tea Room Chef” reported later that she had achieved success sufficient to make her consider furnishing an upstairs room to accommodate overnight guests.

Nellie B. Webber established her own tearoom before 1927. If situated in her home, it would seem to have been situated on South Main Street, opposite Charles Street. Charles Street forms an arc that touches or meets up with Main Street twice. The likely location would seem to have been on South Main Street (i.e., the southern stretch of Main Street) – now White Mountain Highway – at its intersection with the southern end of Charles Street, i.e., opposite the current Emma Ramsey Center. This would have been a good location to attract automobile tourists passing to and from points north. (See also Milton and Ye Ragged Robin Tea Shop, which was situated on the same throughway, but further north at Plummer’s Ridge).

Nellie B. Webber appeared in the Milton directories of 1927 and 1930, as proprietor of the Blue Bird Tea Room. (Her house was on Main street).

Royal K. Webber died of oedema of the lungs in Milton, July 16, 1928, aged sixty-eight years, nine months, and one day. (He had resided there for forty-four years).

Nellie V. Weber, a tea room hostess, aged forty-six [sixty-three] years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifteenth (1930) Federal Census. She owned her house in Milton’s “Rural district,” which was valued at $5,000. She had a radio set.

PERSONALS. Mrs. Royal K. Webber and brother have taken an apartment at the El Cortez apartments for the winter (Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, FL), November 9, 1930).

Nellie B. Webber, a widow, aged seventy-three years (b. NH), headed an Orlando, FL, household at the time of the Sixteenth (1940) Federal Census. She rented her apartment at 107 East Robinson Avenue, for $30 per month. She had resided in Milton, NH, in 1935.

Nellie B. Webber, a widow, aged eighty-three years (b. NH), headed an Orlando, FL, household at the time of the Seventeenth (1950) Federal Census. She had an apartment at 330 Livingston Avenue.

Nellie B. (Tasker) Webber died in Orlando, FL, May 7, 1955.

Obituaries. MRS. NELLIE B. WEBBER. Mrs. Nellie B. Webber, a native of Milton, N.H., died Saturday in a local hospital. She is survived by a brother, Dana Tasker, Ossipee, N.H. The body will be shipped to Union, N.H., for services and burial by Fairchild Funeral Home (Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, FL), [Monday,] May 9, 1955).


See also Milton and Ye Ragged Robin Tea Shop


References:

Find a Grave. (2020, October 25). Nellie B. Tasker Webber. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/217677162/nellie-b-webber

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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