About Estes Park, Bernie and bikinis

Oxtail soup, long-branch potatoes, chocolate peanut butter sheet cake, banana split dessert

  • Wednesday, March 27, 2019 12:02am
  • LifeFood

Estes Park, Colorado, 1995

Estes Park had changed. On a trip back to Estes Park it was so crowded and full of stores, I did not recognize it. The only thing I did recognize was the taffy store and the little section of the river that is now the middle of town, where we had our picnics in 1945.

Ginger drove Mom, Bernie and me up to Estes Park. As we were walking down the street, we ran into our niece Jill, who was working at Highlands Park Church Camp.

We had so much fun and Mom, who had the first stages of Alzheimer’s, did too in her quiet little world. She grinned from ear to ear as she licked on a hand-dipped ice cream cone. We all joined her, licking away! It was so good.

Then Bernie spotted a photography place where they had nice-looking, beautiful, curvy bodies on a background cardboard photograph and you stuck your head through the cutout and they photographed your face on the body. We got to pick out the body we wanted. Bernie picked the skinny, curvy body with blond hair and I picked a curvy brunette. They both had skimpy bikinis on. That would be the only time I would ever wear a skimpy bikini.

The cardboard bathing beauties were surrounded by a couple of hunk-a-men in skimpy bathing trunks. We had our photos taken with the crowd of people peering in the shop window, watching these two grown ladies, Bernie and I, laughing until the tears rolled down checks. “Wait until King and Bob see us!” (Bernie has that tears-rolling-down-your cheeks effect on me whenever we go and whatever we are doing!)

Bernie was going to take her photo home to Alaska in her suitcase and show it to King. I had a better plan. When we got back to Ginger’s house in Boulder from Estes Park, brother Jim was there from Grand Junction. I asked him to mail the picture from Grand Junction, when he got back home. I wanted to see Bob’s reaction when he got a sexy photo of two lovely gals in bikinis in the mail, with a postmark Grand Junction, Colorado.

When we got back to Alaska, and not without many incidents — as you see I was traveling with Bernie — the envelope arrived from Grand Junction, marked Mr. Robert Ricks and the words “confidential” written in big red letters on the bottom. As I am the controller of the post office key, I had this situation under control!

I eagerly waited for him to open the big envelope, not appearing to be too snoopy or anxious. He pulled the photo half way out, looked at me and I thought the game was over! Instead he said to me, “YOU are not going to believe this!” I innocently asked why? He stuttered, ” Now-now… I don’t know these gals!” Then he pulled the photo of Bernie and me in our bikinis out of the envelope. Then he looked and looked and then he had another look and then looked at me. I just knew the jig was up!

He handed the photo to me and said, “Do you know who these gals are?” I took my time and looked and said, “No, but the guys are sure nice-looking hunk-a-hunks!” He shot me a sideways glace.

He said, “and the girls?” I said, “I don’t know who they are.” He replied in total innocence, “I wonder who would send this to me?” as he looked at the postmark. “Oh, from Grand Junction, must’ve been from your brother.” I said, “No, he is in Boulder with Mom and Ginger”— a big white lie!

I said, “Are you sure you don’t know them? AND then he said “The blond (Bernie) isn’t too bad looking but that brunette, (me!) as he was studying the bodies, and continued saying, “not a nice face, but a good body, guess I prefer the blonde!” I almost grabbed the photo and smacking him with it and almost told him who the brunette AND who the blond was, but that would’ve spoiled all the fun — even though I was fuming inside. Serves me right!

I personally think Bob never recognized either one of us, as he never looked at our faces, just a skimpy bikini-clad bodies. This little game went on for months. Every once in a while he would say, “wonder who sent those photos?” and I’d say, “what are you going to do with the picture?”

“I don’t know,” he would say and put it back in his little drawer of things he has kept for years.

Finally, at one of our fall bonfires with our old bonfire gang standing around, Bernie and I could not stand it any longer. We had to tell Bob!

I went and got the photo, passed it around to everybody standing around the bonfire, asking the question, “do you know these people?” The remark from the gals at the bonfire, was “look at the bods on those on the guys!” And the guys would say, “look at those gals in bikinis.”

Then when it got back to Bob he took another look. I am sure he only looked at the skimpy bikini bodies! Finally I said, “look at her face.” he said “OK, I still don’t recognize her.”

Bernie and me at the same time yelled, “It’s me!” He looked at the faces, I am sure for the first time, then looked at us and started laughing. I’m not sure if he was laughing at us or with us! We all had a good laugh and the photo got passed around again!

P.S. When Bernie got home from our trip she showed King and ask him if he knew they were. He knew it was Bernie right away. I still think Bob studied the bodies in the bikinis and didn’t give a second look at our face. Well, he can dream; touching is what will hurt him!


This is a recipe that is marked 1931, the year the Empire State building opened. 1933: Perhaps the movie King Kong was inspired by this building. 1936: Mickey Mouse was 8 years old when he was joined on the screen by his pal, Donald Duck.

Brown 2 oxtails (beef tails) in 3 tablespoons bacon drippings with:

1 large onion, chopped

1 carrot diced

2 stalks celery sliced


2 quarts water

Bring to boil and add:

2 tablespoons pearl barley

1 bay leaf

Simmer 4 hours. Remove bones and thicken soup with:

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons water

Stir to dissolve flour so it is not lumpy.

Stir into hot soup and simmer 10 minutes until it slightly thickened.

Season “rather highly with salt and pepper.” Serve in large soup bowls.


This recipe is marked 1935:

Peel good-sized potatoes and cut into strips about 1/4-inch- or 1/2-inch wide.

Soak in cold water for about an hour. Drain and dry thoroughly.

Fry in hot lard until browned


When making a large amount for a crowd, fry them only until the are tender, but not browned. Drain on newspaper or paper sack. Let them sit on counter until ready to serve.

Fry them again in the lard at about 375 degrees. Drain, sprinkle with salt and serve right away. Most people like them with ketchup, but in Canada they pour brown beef gravy over them.


I collect sheet cake recipes. This is at the top of the list.

Oil a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

In a bowl whisk:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Set aside.

In a sauce pan combine:

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup cocoa

Bring to boil and add to flour mixture, stirring just to moisten.

In a small bowl, whisk:

3 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

2 teaspoon vanilla

Add to the flour mixture, stirring constantly until smooth.

Transfer to oiled pan.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.


Prepare frosting while cake is baking:

In a large bowl beat or stir:

3 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Stir until smooth.

Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack — immediately spread the frosting over hot cake.

Sprinkle with 1/2 cup salted chopped peanuts.

Enjoy and take a piece of cake to Pam Martinez at M&M Market in Nikiski.


You will need:

1 box of Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake

2 instant banana pudding packages

1 large can pineapple, drained

3 bananas

Pour the 2 cups of graham crumbs that are in the cheesecake package into a 9 x 13-inch pan.

Mix with 1 stick butter.

1/2 cup sugar

Press in bottom pan and up the sides.

Bake 10 minutes and let cool.

After cooled, slice three bananas on top of crumbs.

Mix cheesecake as directed and fold in 1 small package of instant banana pudding Jell-O mix with 1 1/2 cups of milk.

Drain 1 large can crushed pineapple. Press to get most of moisture out and fold into the cheesecake-pudding mix.

Pour onto the cold crumbs and bananas.

Frost with:

1 small package instant banana pudding* using 1 1/2 cups cold milk.

Fold in 1 cup of Cool Whip. Spread over top of dessert.

Sprinkle liberally with crushed pecans. Chill at least 4 hours before cutting and enjoying.

*I could not find instant banana pudding this last time so I used instant coconut Jell-O pudding.


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