William K. Gamble

Bill in Duluth MN, Summer of 2022

Bill Gamble was born in 1920. He grew up on a farm in Iowa with no indoor plumbing or electricity. His mother cooked on a wood stove and could tell if it was hot enough just by sticking her hand over it. His sister Dorothy paid for him to go with her on his first airplane ride. He fell in love with flying. During World War II he enlisted in the Navy and flew blimps off the coast of Brazil. He was one of a handful of people who flew both lighter than air and heavier than air during WWII. When he was in Brazil he saw poverty and farms that weren’t producing. It made him think he could make a difference in the world. He could help these farmers.

William Keith Gamble was the first in his family to finish college. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Iowa State University. Later, married with three children, he went back to school and received his Ph.D from Cornell University. Dr. Gamble. He worked for the Ford Foundation as a Specialist in Agriculture and a Country Director in Burma, Mexico and the Caribbean, Colombia and Venezuela, and West Africa. Then he went on to be the Director of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria. From there he became the founding Director of the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) in The Hague, the Netherlands. He was known internationally as somebody who was making a difference.

The farm boy from Iowa traveled to over 90 countries. He was invited to testify at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons. He received the Distinguished Achievement Citation from Iowa State University that reads, “A pioneer in bringing science and technology to tropical agriculture, he has improved living conditions for millions in developing countries.”

He also gave back. The Gamble International Agriculture Scholarship at Iowa State University was made possible through an endowment generously established by William K. Gamble and Sara Virginia Liggett Gamble. Its purpose is to support international experience for graduate students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who intend to pursue a career in agriculture on an international level.

The family lived through several Coups. One in Burma in 1962, and two in Nigeria in July of 1975 and February of 1976. Life was never boring. Travel was always a wild card with delays, cancellations, re-routes, and bad communication. Sometimes we had phones that worked, sometimes we had indoor plumbing, sometimes we had electricity. Sometimes we did not. Through it all my mother entertained exquisitely and supported my father in whatever he did. They were together for 76 years. My mother died in 2019 at 99 years old.

Bill was a fierce opponent on the tennis court as well as the badminton court. He enjoyed a beer before dinner for many years and then turned to red wine. Even at 103 years old he loved a meal out with a good bottle of red wine.

My father wrote a note to my son on the inside cover of his memoirs. It reads, “I want you to do your very best to help achieve a better world and to always be considerate of your fellow man. In doing so, I hope that you, as I have done, can live happily and enjoy life to the fullest”.

He certainly did enjoy life to the fullest!

William K. Gamble
February 10, 1920 – November 25, 2023

He leaves behind two sons, two daughers-in-law, one daughter, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Indian Cake

My Grandmother at about age 20

Years ago we put together a family recipe book. Four different versions of the Indian Cake recipe were entered by four great cooks. Goes to show that even in a family the need to “tweak” a recipe exists. My cousin always thought the name of the recipe came from the fact that all ingredients were staples in every kitchen and a great use for leftover coffee, plus Grandma was born in the 1881, so it was probably a “prairie” recipe handed down by her mother. Unfortunately, most of the cooks have passed and we will probably never know for sure.`

This is my grandmother’s version of the cake.

Indian Cake

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup coffee
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup hot water
1 clove coffee, heated

Mix all ingredients together, stirring in hot coffee last.
Bake at 350 degrees until done.

You can see that this is kind of vague and might need some additional “tweaks”. I don’t know what a “1 clove coffee” is.

One of my aunts increased the cocoa by a quarter cup and took out the baking powder, vanilla extract, salt, and clove coffee. This makes no sense to me, it would be pretty bland, I would think.

Another aunt increased the cocoa by a quarter cup and added cream of tartar.

A third aunt provided the last variation and it is the most detailed:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coffee, cold
1 cup water, boiling, minus 1 teaspoon

Sift together: flour, cocoa, soda, and salt and set aside. Cream 1/2 cup butter into the sugar. Add beaten eggs and blend slowly. Add vanilla. Add into sugar and butter mixture, some of the flour and mix well, then add some of the cold coffee and mix them alternating, continue until all is in but mix in the flour last. Stir in the hot water (minus 1 teaspoon) and mix well. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 1 hour. Test with toothpick until it comes out dry from the center of the cake.

I’m not 100% convinced on this one. One hour seems way too long. But I haven’t tried it and don’t know what kind of a pan she used.

I have made the original recipe minus the clove thing but I might have put some clove spice in it. I think I cooked it for 30 minutes in a 9 X 9 and it turned out pretty good.

Try your hand at it and see what happens!

Funny Story

So funny story. Our internet went out on Thursday. It was out from about noon to after 10 pm. It came back on the next morning. In my building that means the TV is also out. And it means the public garage we all use is not accessible. The fancy new system they put in just doesn’t work. You can’t get in or out. That night all the people who work downtown could not get out to go home. And residents could not get in to go home. Somebody didn’t think it through when they installed the new fancy scanners. The company that owns the garage almost had a riot in their hands. They finally dismantled everything and opened all the gates. That meant that this morning the garage was full of homeless people sheltering out of the rain.

One word – idiots! Not really so funny. The down side of technology. I think more and more, we need a back up for technology.

Facebook is reminding me about my trip to Ireland four years ago. Check it out.

Winter is coming. William O’Brian State Park was kind of magical.

Fall is in the Air

My photos look a little out of focus today. Kind of psychedelic. Or is it just me? The sky is an odd color. A rainy, dark day. But color starting as the trees adjust to winter.

I actually got a story published this week. No money but think of the fame! The notoriety!

Today is also gloomy and rainy. But that’s okay. We need rain. Rain is good. Winter is coming.

I read today that scientists think mammals will die out in 250 million years. All the land masses will collide, the sun will get brighter, and carbon dioxide will rise. We will suffocate and melt. I wonder if we will really last that long. Will we morph into something else? Will another species thrive on the new atmosphere? Will we build bio-domes like our science fiction writers predict? It is hard to imagine what 250 million years looks like. The dinosaurs roamed the earth for 165 million years and then all blew up about 65 million years ago. Mammals showed up about 225 million years ago. So we are almost half way through our time here. On the other hand the earth itself is 4.5 billion years old. We are but blips in time. It’s like democracy in Russia. A nanosecond. Apparently Earth has another 4 billion years to go. Don’t think I’ll be around to see it.

I’m reading Isabel Allende’s memoirs and in it she mentions the filming of The House of Spirits. I never knew it was made into a movie so I watched it last night. It was star studded, Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Antonio Banderas, Winona Ryder, and a million other people. Of Love and Shadows is another one of her books that was made into a movie. I haven’t read that one but looks interesting.

I read that people who are optimistic and have positive thoughts on aging tend to live longer. I’m feeling positive I am aging.

A friend just found out he is going to Burundi for work. The poorest nation in the world. The most unhappy nation in the world. I first heard about Burundi during the Hutu-Tutsi genocide of the 1990’s. So I have been trying to find positive things about it. It is in the African Great Lakes region bordering on Lake Tanganyika. This is what I found.

They make pretty sisal baskets.


They have pretty birds.

Image: Michael Gwyther-Jones

Nice landscape.

Image: Dave Proffer

Drums are important.

Lake Tanganyika is big. It has hippos.

See, positive, positive, positive.

Down By The Riverside…

I’m gonna lay down that atom bomb
Down by the riverside down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
I’m gonna lay down that atom bomb
Down by the riverside study war no more

I ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Pete Seeger

Hug me, squeeze me, love me, tease me
‘Til I can’t, ’til I can’t, ’til I can’t take no more of it
Take me to the water, drop me in the river
Push me in the water, drop me in the river
Washing me down, washing me down
Al Green via Talking Heads