1940-50’s on a farm east of Fort Collins, Colorado
As I begin this article I want to thank all the veterans of all the wars and ask God to please watch over and protect them and their families. Our America is much safer because of you!
My dad loved to go to Sunday school and church and wanted to drag along everybody in the surrounding area with him. Sometimes we had as many as 14 kids of all ages jammed in the 4-door pea-green Dodge. Mom would never go with us as she would say – “I have to get the Sunday dinner going.”
We always took our baths on Saturday night and polished our shoes. We decided what to wear and went to bed early.
Sunday morning was a big breakfast and getting ready for Sunday school and church. Dad would milk the cow, bring in the milk, put it in jars and put it in the “fridgrater.”
He would wash his hands and face and shave, go into the bedroom and change from milk clothes into his Sunday clothes. He had a ritual that never changed. He would stand in the closet in his boxer shorts and his v-necked T-shirt and reach for his hat on the top shelf of the closet and put it on his head. Then he would unbutton the nicely starched and ironed white shirt that Mom ironed on Tuesday, and put that on, button the top button from the top down, go stand in front of the mirror on the “dresser”— an oak, finely carved beautiful piece of furniture that you do not see these days, flip up the collar on his shirt and put his tie on and flip his collar back down. Next he put on his socks, then pull on his suit pants, put the belt through the loops, tuck in his shirt and buckle his belt. Then came his shoes and next his suit coat.
He would walk out of the bedroom all dressed up and handsome and say loudly so we all could hear, “You ready?” He would give Mom a kiss on the cheek and go sit in the pea-green Dodge until everyone got in. He would start the engine, put it in “go gear” and off down the dirt road we go.
(PS – “Pea-green Dodge” was all one word and one that Mom named it because she hated the color of the new car. Dad did not have a choice of color after World War II, and because they had a surplus of white and Army green paint, it was mixed together and used on the newly assembled cars. It was ugly! We never said we were “getting in the car”— just getting in the peagreendodge.)
We lived about 10 miles from Fort Collins, where the big First Presbyterian Church was. We made several stops along the way as he picked up neighbor kids. But before we got to church we had to endure his singing! I smile as I recall how he loved to get everyone to join in “Oh that strawberry roan – she was a sun fishing son of a gun. Oh that strawberry roan. She would jump through the air with the greatest of ease, she would turn on a dime and leave you some change – oh that strawberry roan!” Then he would go right into “Big Rock Candy Mountain. Where the mountains were candy and the clouds were fluff, and the rivers were lemonade and…”
The closer we got the Fort Collins he would change into hymns. “The Old Rugged Cross,” “I Come to the Garden Alone, while the dew is still on the roses” and “He walks with me and He talks to me…” Then he would slide right into “Nearer My God To Thee,” one of his favorites. Then “Into My heart, come into my heart, Lord Jesus.” At the top of his lungs he would belt out, “Jesus Loves Me, this I know…. Jesus Love Me, This I Know — fooor the Bible tells meeee soooo!”
He would glance in the rearview mirror every once in a while to see if we all were singing with him. I owe my non-singing ability to our dad – his flat monotone voice was full of happiness, cheerfulness and love. I sing that way too – but only in the car all by myself!
He taught Sunday school with the same enthusiasm as he sang, reading stories out of the Bible and telling stories that had great morals. His enthusiasm was contagious and we all at one time ended up teaching Sunday school or playing the piano in “Little Church.” This was taught by Mrs. Reverend Grether, as we called her. She was a little itty-bitty lady with a big, big smile and lots of love and kindness. “Little Church” was for “little guys” who could not sit still in “Big Church.” So instead of just babysitting, she had little church, complete with rows of chairs, hymn books and Bibles on every chair. We were very important to her and we felt that importance. Anyone who could play the piano was the pianist. I had that honor for a while and it helped me get over my fright of being in front of people by playing the piano, however un-well I played. Mistakes were not mistakes in her book, she just sang over the top of the mistakes and the pianist just caught up whenever they could. She was a grand lady. There were snacks afterward. When we heard Big Church let out we could get our coats and wait for parents to come and get us.
After church we would all pile into the pea-green Dodge. Dad would go around the block and down the street to Poudre Valley Creamery for the long-awaited ice cream cone. We all piled out of the car, file into the creamery and picked out our own flavor of hand dipped, wonderful-tasting ice cream that was made right there from cow’s milk that was gathered from the surrounding farms, including my Dad’s. We would file back out into the car, scoot in and sit real still, way back in our seats and lick and lick and lick, just to see who could make their ice cream cone last the longest. Dad was always the first to finish.
We would head home with ice cream mustaches and smiles on our face and singing at the top of our lungs, of course! All the kids were let off at the various farms and when we got home we had to undress and put everything away and hang up our Sunday clothes. Dad would go into the closet and take his hat off, put it on the shelf and do the reverse of undressing.
Note: Dad was very patriotic and always made sure we knew what war was all about and why we have our freedom today. During WWII, he was classified as a “4-F” because he was a farmer and they contributed to the war effort by raising food crops for the United State of America. He was proud of that fact, but wished once in a while he could join his brothers that served in the Army, Navy and Army Air Force.
My Bob was in the Army and served during the Korean War in Okinawa on a missile site. He still has his Secret Class Clearance that he still uses once in a while to repair equipment in remote sites in Alaska.
The Pioneer Potluck series is written by 50-year resident of Alaska Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her mother, a selftaught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day. Grannie Annie can be reached at email@example.com.