Pioneer Potluck: About remembering olden days

  • By Grannie
  • Tuesday, April 19, 2016 6:17pm
  • LifeFood

Like the 40s and 50s !

Co-author Dolores Wik

Recipes from sister Elaine Oster

Remember in the olden days of our youth?

The department stores and other businesses used those ‘air tube’ contraptions to shoot money, paperwork or what ever upstairs or down stairs. I can still vividly recall the swooooopppingggg noise they made as they took off. I also remember how much fun it used to be to go in a shoe department and put your feet on one of those X-ray machines to see what size shoe you actually wore. Who knew they were feeding our little toesies full of radiation and other bad things.

Things and inventions we used to take for granted in our youth. How much fun real State Fairs used to be. Not the money gobbling monstrosities that substitute now days. For me, one of my rare and few highlights was making the hour plus drive for a day at the coast of Oregan and California.

The highlight being, stopping at the Pronto Pup stand. That was a tradition. Oh how I loved that slightly sweet cornmealy crust the dogs were encased in. I always ate the outside and then generally did not eat the hot dog underneath. Can you visualize this whining little voice as I’m leaning over the back of the front seat, always trapping some parts of my mom’s long hair under my squirmy arms, “I’m too full now, I can’t eat the rest of this”!

Or going into one of the shops in one of the coastal towns and buying honest to goodness real salt water taffy. These modest things were all real treats for we kids. Something we did not get to do but once, maybe twice a year. And the picnics my mom and aunts prepared for the coast excursion. Heavenly is all I can say though I totally ignored the fried chicken that was a must for the adults. There were bags of potato chips on these occasions, something we rarely got to have.

And other store bought goodies we rarely had at home, like soda pop. And roasting marshmallows over a beach campfire, yummmm. None of that ‘smore’ crap that’s dished out now days. There is nothing like the memory of a very blackened marshmallow dripping off the end of the stick and always burning your mouth.

Or how about back at home on one of the handful of times per year we got to go to White’s Drive-In. I was really young but clearly remember I was in love with their coleslaw. It was how coleslaw was supposed to taste. Not that horrid Miracle Whip and cabbage concoction my dad only allowed at home (Texan born and bred that he was). So, at the drive-in I always, always ordered a tuna fish sandwich because it came with the beloved coleslaw. And every single time I’d get the third degree from my dad. “Now Sissie if you order this you have to eat all of it” and I’d swear and cross my heart to the ends of the earth that I would. Of course I’d eat the coleslaw and then start my usual whining about the sandwich, “I’m too full now, I can’t eat this”!

Why did no one ever tell me to just order a bowl of coleslaw and forget the sandwich. Surely they would have accommodated that request. But being a very young kid I didn’t know there were ‘options’. I thought the menu was what the menu said.

On the hysterically funny side of this you can see what a very weird child I was……you name me another 4 year old that lives and dies for a bowl of coleslaw from White’s Drive-In and ignores the glories of milkshakes and fries and myriad other treats. Name me another 4 year old that pushed off the edge of the plate any piece of meat that was being served, trying to hide the fact I hadn’t eaten it and instead gobbled down every vegetable on the plate. Except okra or hominy, nasty stuff I didn’t like at all and my dad being Texan, insured we had plenty of those nasty cans of hominy served at dinner time. The okra, not so much, but I think that was because my Mom didn’t know what to do with it.

Or the child that stubbornly sat in her chair while the stand off was taking place as my dad informed me I was not leaving the table until I ate my oyster stew. He could have left me setting there until doomsday and no way on earth would I touch those nasty poop filled globs of slime-iness. A treaty of sorts was finally reached. If I would at least just drink some of the milk of the stew then I could be excused.

There was one other food stand off I clearly remember when I was a child. In grade school and one day they served ‘Porcupine Meatballs’. Ut-oh, the siege was on and I not so politely informed the person in charge “I was not eating any stinkin’ porcupine meat and they couldn’t make me”! At first they started the threat tactics and after a large portion of the lunch hour had slipped by they realized they were wasting their breath as I’d of went before a firing squad before even touching my lips to a piece of “porcupine meat.” So my teacher was called on the scene and she tried telling me it wasn’t really porcupine meat, that it was only hamburger and rice and I was believing no part of those lies-lies-lies! I’m sort of vague on what transpired at the end other than the fact I won that war, they finally had to give up and just let me and my imagination, because they were out of time and I wasn’t eating the horrid stuff nor was I believing anything they were trying to tell me.

As you have probably deduced I did not like meat at all when I was young and hated it even worse after we went on a field trip to a meat packing plant as a grade school excursion. That experience traumatized me for years! Especially the hot dog making process and then they had the nerve to pass out a cold hot dog (no bun) to each kid as we left! I was practically gagging by this point. I did not eat hot dogs for probably near 8 to 10 years after that smelly ghastly experience.

We didn’t actually see any animals getting killed but the hidden process only fired our imaginations in the worst way, at least it did mine. Scarred me for life – that experience did. And probably why to this very day, I cannot listen too or watch National Geographic when it has animals being killed on it. Oh, those poor suffering animals being eaten alive, excuse me while I go puke and cry. I really was a weird child wasn’t I?

THANK YOU DOLORES for the smiles and the peek into your “up-bringing.”

Grannie Annies NOTES:

This was the era of 5 and Dime stores. Woolworth in our town of Fort Collins, Colorado. I loved to take my nickel or dime that Dad so generously gave me to go shopping!

Ice cream cones, phone calls, street car rides and Pepsi or Coke-a-Cola or Nesbits was a nickel

We listened to Jack Benny, Fiber McGee and Molly and the Presidents speeches on the radio. The big boxing fights – Joe Lewis especially, we would listen with Dad on the radio.

Men and women volunteered for the Armed Services to protect out precious country. Man had not walked on the moon!!

And we did not share restrooms!

We were born before, Television, Polio shots, Penicillin, Contact lenses, “The Pill.”

And never heard of Frisbees, Credit Cards, Laser beams, and ball point pens.

Pantyhose followed the girdle and nylons. Horrid things! Dish washers and clothes dryers were not in our house. We hung our clothes on the clothes line to dry and our statement and delight about how fresh the bed clothes smelled!

Youngsters called men “Sir” and ladies “Ma’am.” We played outdoors all day long until we heard Mom call “Suppertime.”

No computers or devices in our bedrooms except a bed and a light. We were taught and it was enforced, to know the difference from right and wrong and take responsibilities for our actions.

We went to Church every Sunday – All of us!!

We have just touched the surface of the “olden days. I hope this sets in motion some of your days of old!


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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