The Canoe Club
“For the pleasure of the Children of the members, Hal A. Cresswell, chairman of the house committee of the Canoe club, has arranged a program of egg rolling contests to take place on the club lawn at 3 o’clock this afternoon. Prizes will be awarded to the winners of the various events, and some lively competition is expected. John A. Ardussi, club steward announces a special Easter dinner for club members.”
-The Saginaw News Courier, April 13, 1925
Much like the composed salad it accompanies, the story behind this week’s recipe has numerous elements that can be arranged to tell a fuller more robust story.
The Saginaw Canoe Club was founded in 1904. Promotional material described its purpose as a place to bring together young men who were interested in canoeing, boating, and aquatic sports. Shortly after its founding, a small clubhouse was erected on the west end of Riverside Park, facing the Tittabawassee River. The following year the club expanded to include dancing parties on the clubhouse’s porch. Later, tennis courts were added. In 1913 a large, new clubhouse was erected in Rust Park – the location was on the east bank of the river, south of Court Street Bridge. Officially opened in 1914, a canoe garage was added at the river’s edge in 1916. In March 1923 the clubhouse was severely damaged by fire; however, the building was quickly repaired. The dining rooms reopened by summer under the direction of John Ardussi. By the late 20s, the club was in financial trouble. Reorganized as the Saginaw Tennis Club, the club continued and the 1913 building was demolished and replaced by a new building in 1940.
Above: Views of the Saginaw Canoe Club’s Fordney Avenue Clubhouse and Grounds. (Note: The Canoe Club’s first clubhouse was located at Riverside Park. It was a much smaller building.)
John Ardussi had a long connection with the Canoe Club. The Ardussi family lived in a house on Fordney Avenue on club property. In a 1958 article, Saginaw News writer Esther Way noted: “Nostalgic recollections for Canoe Club members would be sure to include John Ardussi’s spaghetti and steak dinners[.]” John Ardussi came to Canoe Club from the Saginaw County Club. Born in Pinerola, Italy in 1869, John Ardussi immigrated to the United States in 1895. First living in Detroit, he married Sophia Barbara Zehnder of Frankenmuth. The couple settled in Frankenmuth and opened a café. In 1900, he became steward of the Saginaw County Club. When John A. Ardussi passed away in 1938, The Saginaw News reported:
During his 19 years at the Saginaw County Club he became widely known as a chef of ability, and his famous Italian spaghetti was recognized throughout Michigan. Mr. Ardussi was admired and respected by club members and the many friendships established during his stewardship there endured throughout his life. Mr. Ardussi came to the Saginaw Canoe Club, later the Saginaw Tennis Club, as steward in 1919, and remained there until his death.
-The Saginaw News, October 14, 1938
In the late 1920s, John Ardussi purchased a parcel of land on Gratiot Avenue near the western city limits. Platted in 1928 as Locarno Villas, the main – and only street in the plat - is Ardussi Avenue.
In case you need something to read after you make your own version of the Ardussi salad, these are the results of the Saginaw Canoe Club’s 1924 Easter Egg rolling contest:
Renewal of the egg rolling contest at the Saginaw Canoe club attracted about 75 children Easter afternoon. Many adult members of the club joined the youngsters in their merriment.
While the weather was far from ideal, there was no interference from rain and the events took place on schedule.
The events and winners were:
Egg hunt - Jane Bender and Billy Draper.
Prize egg – James Symons.
Egg rolling – (Boys) – R.C. Rieder and John Wolf.
Egg rolling – (girls) Phyllis Gird and Madeline Gould.
Carrying eggs on sticks – Charles Richardson and Max Pribl
-The Saginaw News Courier, April 21, 1924
For the history of the Ardussis in Frankenmuth: (When you open the webpage, you will need to scroll down and locate the Ardussi name in the list of family names.):
The Recipe: Ardussi Salad
As it appears in Savoring Saginaw
1 can tuna
4 hearts celery
1 doz. radishes
4 hard-cooked eggs
1 can mushrooms
1 jar sm. pickled onions
Slice cucumbers, celery, radishes, eggs and tomatoes. Arrange individual ingredients in attractive patterns around tuna. Serve with mayonnaise, boiled dressing, or Italian dressing.
Note from Savoring Saginaw: We are not sure that this is a Canoe Club recipe but it seems to have been named for its manager, John Ardussi, who introduced members to the delights of Italian-style foods. The Canoe Club was formed in 1904 "to promote boating, canoeing and aquatic sports". In its heyday, the organization occupied a large clubhouse in Ezra Rust Park and offered a variety of activities including tennis, skeet shooting, dancing parties and other social events.
Notes from the Castle Test Kitchen: This salad has a rather wonderful combination of ingredients. However, the specified proportions are not perfectly balanced and the Castle test kitchen staff would have liked more guidance on which size can of tuna should be used.(As we were assembling the salad, we realized that we should have used oil-packed tuna.)
The next time the test kitchen staff makes an Ardussi salad, we will use a shallower, round serving platter. Also, when assembling it, we made the mistake of thinking in rings rather than layers - this comment will make sense when you prepare this dish. We served it with a classic vinaigrette.
One more note: make certain you include the pickled onions and gherkins. The photographer found it hard not to sample some during the photo shoot.