Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, March 29, 1993, pg. 5
Occasionally in this column we will focus on particular individuals from Albion who went on to become famous, or achieved great success in life. This week in our Historical Notebook we are featuring one of Albion’s most note celebrities, the world famous food writer, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher (1908-1992). Fisher has been called the greatest food writer of our time, and was the author of around 20 book, and countless stories and articles about food, including: How to Cook a Wolf, Consider the Oyster, The Cooking of Provincial France, and others. Her articles frequently appeared in The New Yorker magazine for many years.
M.F.K. Fisher (as she was known by her readers) was born here in Albion on Friday, July 3, 1908 at the family home located at 202 Irwin Avenue, on the NW corner of Irwin and N. Clinton Sts. Mary was the daughter of Rex and Edith Kennedy. Rex Kennedy was editor of the Albion Recorder form 1904 until 1910, with his brother Walter being manager, and later editor after Rex left for California.
This writer had the honor of corresponding with M.F.K. Fisher on several occasions, as did others in this community. In her reply leters, Fisher wrote us: “I was born there in Albion in 1908, delievered at home by “Doc” Geroge Hafford, a many my parents Rex and Edith Kennedy were devoted to. Rex was then one of the volunteer firemen, and since I was born in a heat wave, he persuaded his pals to come several times and spray the walls of the house. My father Rex was sure I would be born on July 4, and he wanted to name me Independencia. My mother Edith was firmly against this completely un-Irish notion, and induced “Doc” Hafford to hurry things up a bit, in common pity. I made it on July 3, with about 11 minutes to go.”
Rex Kennedy sold his interest in the Recorder in 1910 to his brother, and the family moved from Albion, eventually landing in Whittier, California, where Rex became editor of The Whittier News and served in that position for 42 years. He died in June, 1953.
Through her many years of successes and prominence in the field of food expertise, M.F.K. Fisher still kept in contact with her family’s Albion friends, who visited her home on numerous occasions. The family was particularly friendly with Philetus and Cora (Sturevant) Church. Fisher writes, “After Philetus died, his widow Cora came here one day for lunch, not long before my father Rex died  too, and she stayed five or six days. We could not let her go. She could not bear to leave.
In a letter to this writer in 1985, Fisher wrote: “I have nothing but good memories of the town where I was born in 1908. I hope to return some day, to make new ones.” Unfortunately, M.F.K. Fisher never fulfilled that dream to return to Albion, and died on Monday June 22, 1992 at her home in Glen Ellen, California at the age of 83. She had been suffering with Parkinson’s disease and arthritis. Her obituary was carried nationwide and internationally, and of course made headlines here in Michigan and locally.
Fisher’s papers have beren given to the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is survived by two daughters, Kenney Wright and Anna Parrish; a sister, and four grandchildren. Fisher kept her journals until the year of her death, and some of her works will be published posthumously. One particular recently published book, “To Begin Again” mentions her early life including Albion, in Chapter 1 entitled “Native Truths.” The book contains stories, and memoirs of this great food writer. A copy of the book is in the local history room of the Albion Public Library and is currently being read by many Albion residents.
The home where M.F.K. Fisher was born at 202 Irwin Avenue is still standing, now the home of Mrs. Edith Potts (my English teacher in the 9th grade). This historian woud like to suggest to the community that it would be fitting to have a Michigan State historical marker placed in front of the home and title it “Birthplace of M.F.K. Fisher.” I think that would be most appropriate. Perhaps some local literary club or woman’s group could undertake this project and see it to reality. I send that out as a challenge. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of M.F.K. Fisher, who was born in Albion.
M. F. K. Fisher
Next: THE OLD RUGGED CROSS
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic