Pioneer Potluck: About picnics

  • By Ann 'Grannie Annie' Berg
  • Tuesday, July 7, 2015 4:58pm
  • LifeFood

Estes Park, Colorado


Kenai, Alaska


As I mentioned last week, our Fourth of July picnic at the park in Fort Collins, was most exciting for this little farm girl that knew only farm life. We talked about it for days around the supper table. Dad was just as excited about the large display of fireworks over the Lake in Fort Collins, as we were.

We also had picnics in Poudre Canyon and at Estes Park next to the St. Varain River. Estes Park was a small tourist community then. Our picnic at Estes park always was with “the rest of the family.” Grandpa and Grandma and Uncles Les and Marvin Cogswell. Uncle Norman and Moms sister Aunt Ruth Brown. We traveled in a caravan, each in our own cars.

The plan was the same, find a nice picnic spot next to the St. Varain river in the grassy field. The men folks carried the baskets and boxes of food from the trunks of the cars. Mom, Grandma and Aunt Ruth spread blankets out for the food to be placed on. No paper plates them. Each family had their own dinner plates and silverware. We did have big nice paper napkins.

First thing was to pour ice cold lemonade into glasses for the Dad, Grandpa and Uncle Norman. They were always very thirsty as they “drove the whole way up the canyon!” Lemonade was made from lemons and oranges. The juice poured into big glass half gallon jars filled with ice, sugar and water. The jars were wrapped in newpaper and towels to keep cold and safe for the trip.

Us kids, John (Butch, Sonny or Johnny) me, (Ann, Annie or only my grandma called me Edith Ann) Ginger was always Ginger, (although Dad called her in a very loving way, Squeaky) Uncles Les and Marvin. This was before Aunt Ruth and Uncle Norman had their children, Duane and Barbara Faye. We ran down to the river, after Mom gave us strict warnings of being very careful near the river. We would look for trout and then take our shoes and socks off and soak our feet in the ice cold water. Dad joined us in this ritual. We probably learned it from him! He loved to remove his shoes and socks and stick his big bare feet in the ice cold water, then let out a bellow that bounced off the mountain tops, “Brrrr, tttthaatttsss cold,” shaking his head from side to side. Then he walked over to the blanket that Mom had laid out just for Dad to take a nap, with shoes in hand, lay down for a short snooze in the hot sun until the picnic food was ready.

Mom, Grandma and Aunt Ruth had all the goodies laid out on a blanket with a table cloth over the top. The plates handed to us were filled with Moms fried chicken, Grandma’s potato salad and deviled eggs,(Grandma made the best.) Moms dill pickles and baked beans. A slice of home made bread with a generous layer of butter spread on top. Our “apple-tights” were great in the clear mountain air.

The dessert was Grandma’s apple and cherry pie. Moms chocolate cake and cookies. After we ate EVERYTHING, we gave our plates back to our parents and THEN we could back to the river. A watermelon was placed in the river to get ice cold for a snack later.

The river is where my Uncle Marvin gave me my first piece of Double Bubble Gum. We had to hide behind the willows lining the river, because my Moms NEVER allowed us to have gum. And the excuse was “ What would YOUR Grandpa think and it will rot your teeth!” I often think about this and I do think Grandpa would have enjoyed the bubble gum too. I hear the river noise in my ears, and still remember my first taste of the wonderful Double Bubble Gum!

Dad, Grandpa and Uncle Norman, bellies full, took another nap in the hot sun and after they woke up we could go for a walk with the family down the streets of Estes Park, ending at the Salt Water Taffy Shop. This is my second recollection of something tasting so sweet and good! Dad would buy the combination box for “us.” He would buy the peppermint box for himself.

He would “share”his peppermint taffy with “I will give you one piece of my taffy for two of yours. We gladly shared with him for one of his peppermint taffies. This was done with a good hearted grin and for some reason, he ended up with more taffy than we did. By that time it did not matter. Mom was the counterbalance, with admonishments of “NO more candy until tomorrow, I don’t want YOU throwing up in the car!” So we waited for “YOU” whoever that was, all the way home. WHEE ..we made it – no one got sick!

Estes has changed and grown big now. But my memories will always be the same. Cold river water, great food, sweet taste of bubble gum and taffy and fun with my relatives.

Our Fourth of July in Alaska this year was with family and good friends at Susan and Porters in Kenai. Good thing they have the big greenhouse as it was converted into a meeting place with tables full of wonderful food. My three kids, Gail, David and Susan were there and the two grandsons, Arleigh and wife Jewel, with there two small children, my great grand kids! Grey, also with his girl friend Shawnee. And to my surprise another “kinda grandkid”, Jake, Kyanna’s son and his girl friend Nikki. We had Aunties, Uncles, Nephews, Cousins, Grandma Gail and Great Grannie Annie and Great Grandpa Bob and of course, who can go without friends.

Others were friends John and Nikki Turnbull, Florence and Keith Strumpler and old time good friend Dolores Wik.

I reallized I turned into my Grandma Cogswell at this picnic as I brought fried chicken and cherry and apple pies.

The family is priceless and so were the friends that sat around sheltered from the rain, talking and sharing stories. Nikki Turnbull sang great old songs. What more could you ask for!!!! I hope your Fourth of July was as happy as ours and filled with of memories!

Thank you for all your compliments and comments. They are appreciated!


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.

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