North of Fort Collins Colorado
In the 1940s
I related a few articles ago that I visited my Uncles and Aunts in Kansas on a trip my Uncle Guy took me and my brother, Butch,(John Jr) in his Chevy coupe’. Never stopping and never much conversation. It was hot and dusty. I had never seen such nothing – the prairies of eastern Colorado were sage brush and a few, very few trees.
My sister, Ginger says the she too went with Uncle Guy on a trip to Kansas. I am thinking that he took us with him when we each graduated from the 8th grade at Cactus Hill Observatory Grade School District # 101.
Ginger said that Uncle Guy would not stop for bathroom breaks because the car he had just passed would get ahead of him again. She remembers the line of telephone poles for miles and miles. They were the only thing to see!
Ginger had slept upstairs (as I did) at Aunt Laura’s in Ellsworth, Kansas, in a big bed with heaps of quilts. The room had a hole in the middle of the floor with a grate for the heat to rise from a big wood burning stove in a room below. That kept the bedrooms kinda warm.
When Ginger got home from Colorado she received a package from Aunt Laura. It was addressed just to her. She was so excited as Mom, me and brother, Butch were so anxious to see what Aunt Laura had sent her. We also wonder why only Ginger was getting a package. Ginger excitedly opened the package and found a freshly laundered pair of her underwear! She must have not packed all her belongings. Ginger said she could have died of embarrassment and everyone standing around her were so embarrassed that they did not even tease her. We never mentioned it again, either. Ginger said she has never forgotten the embarrassment and wondered why Aunt Laura just did not throw them away instead of the cost of mailing them. Probably not in that day and age when you never threw anything away.
My Dad, John McClure, had 3 sisters and 3 brothers. His oldest sister, Laura, married to Fenton Stonebraker, had 8 boys. My Aunt Laura had the boys between 1923 and 1934 all born in Kansas. I was born in 1937 in Colorado. I was born after the 8 Stonebraker boys was born.
Dads youngest sister Alma, married Ted Webb, had 5 boys, born between 1935 and 1945 all born in Kansas.
When the Stonebrakers boys visited our farm in northern Colorado, I was treated very nicely but from a distance because they were not used to a noisy, smiling girl in the midst. It was almost like I was a curiosity. When it came time for bed the boys all camped in the living room on the floor with various types of blankets and bedding. Good thing we had a big living room because it was wall to wall sleeping boys.
My Aunt Alma and Uncle Ted and 5 boys when they visited, camped on the floor. Some of the Webb boys were younger. I still was a curiosity.
My Dad got a kick out of telling his neighbors that I had 13 boy cousins on his side of the family. I actually had more than that..2 more boy cousins that I had met once or twice of my Aunt Rozella’s. There are girls sprinkled in this mess of boys, 5 to be exact. Aunt Rozella had 3 girls and 2 boys. Uncle Evan and Aunt Ruth had 2 girls.
Dad was proud of his many nephews and nieces. We did not go visiting much and only the Kansas boys that visited us, do I remember. We never traveled or visited. Dad had herds of cattle to tend to and a big farm to manage. Mom and Dad had me, the oldest of 5. I have 2 brothers, John Jr. and Jim and 2 sisters Virginia (Ginger) and Elaine. Mom was always very busy – just baking and cooking especially in the summer, taking care of the boy cousins who came to help Dad in the hay and beets. Mom loved to cook and bake and the fussy, picky eater who did not like the food on the table, went right to the top of Mom’s list of scorn. We ate what was put before us!
Those were fun times and wonderful memories of relatives. My Dad was the entertainer at night telling stories and jokes. But right at 9 o’clock he would say “time for bed” and that meant EVERYONE. By 10 o’clock (after visits to the outhouse in earlier days on the farm) the lights were out and small talk melted into snoozing and slight snoring.
Breakfast was big mounds of pancakes, bacon and sausages, coffee and milk. Or fried tators and scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy. Mom would get the dishes done with my help and start on dinner (lunch) which was boiled potatoes, meat, milk gravy, vegetables and a salad, cookies or cake. Supper (dinner) was more potatoes, different kind of meat such as beef roasts or chicken, homemade bread and canned vegetables from her garden. Cake or pie for dessert. I can remember helping with the dishes as Mom was getting ready for the next meal. Good times, but I am so sure my Mom was totally exhausted by the end of the day.
I enjoy recalling stories of my family as I was growing up. I hope you have memories to keep you warm and smiling also.
The Grannie Annie series is written by a 47 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 self taught 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 anninalaska@gci. net
The “Grannie Annie” Cook Book Series includes: “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ on the Woodstove”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ at the Homestead”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ Fish from Cold Alaskan Waters”; and “Grannie Annie’s Eat Dessert First.” They are available at M & M Market in Nikiski.