Growing up on the on a farm 1937 to 1955
I grew up on a farm in northern Colorado. I lived there until I got married in 1955. I loved everyday of it. I also grew up with “rose colored glasses.” Everything in my book was OK. Everyone loved everyone. Everyone was friendly. Everyone helped their neighbor. My mother reigned me in once in a while by her “What if’s..”
What if ..someone knocked at the door and you had your shoes off. Mom would run to the door of the kitchen, slip on her shoes and go to the porch door and greet the visitor. She loved to go barefoot, but was terrified that our neighbors would see her that way. She irrigated the lawn in her bare feet, but carried her shoes with her, Just in case “What if.”
What if…you did not change your underwear when you went to town with grandma and grandpa? Not only did mom grill me on the clean underwear – grandma would ask me in front of grandpa if I had clean underwear on.
What if… your dress was not ironed perfect and you went to school with a wrinkle in it. Or your socks were not clean!
What if.. company knocked on the door and the house was not clean from top to bottom?
Despite the “what if’s” in my world I still had the happy thoughts and trusted everyone and most animals.
I owe my interest in cooking and sewing to my Mom. When I entered high school and was enrolled in Home Ec. I did not think I should take that class because Mom showed me everything – I thought. I told her I already knew how to cook and sew. Mom said “ No you don’t!” AND I didn’t! Home Ec teacher, Mrs. Burke taught me a lot and she gifted me with a graduation present of an old old cookbook I loved to look at in her classes. It was printed in 1853 and is titled “The Cyclopedia of Recipes.” I cherish that book among my hundreds and hundreds of cookbook collection. It has recipes on how to make perfume and how to make dynamite, how to bred animals to how to build a barn and a house.
I owe my interest in baking bread and how to crochet and knit to my Grandma Cogswell. She was very patient with me when I was little trying to get my two left hands to hold a needle. Embroidery was a little easier. I have taught many how to crochet and embroidery, but do not really like to do it myself. ( I don’t like to count!)
Grandma allowed me to help her and her sisters (my great aunts), my Mom and my aunt Ruth and my girl cousin, Shirley to help when quilting. She lowered the quilt down from the ceiling. Me and cousin Shirley and my little sister Ginger, would crawl under the quilt and act like we were helping pushed needles through to the top but actually we were listen to the gossip that was going on, on the other side of the quilt. Grandma taught me how to take tiny stitches in her quilt. I felt so grown up and privileged.
Grandma also allowed me to curl her hair after she washed it in the kitchen sink. She had no running water. She was dip and dunk her hair in a bucket until it was clean and “squeaky.” Then we went outside in the sun and dry it, while we picked up sticks and checked how ripe the cherries and apples were in the 80 acre orchard. Then we go back down the stairs to their basement house and I would get to “pin curl” her hair. It took hours and she never complained! Everything she said to me was with a smile and an low patient voice. Everything in grandmas world was “wonderful!” I got to comb out her hair also, which I combed and combed until I got tired. And again Grandma never complained.
When I grew up got married and had 3 children, we lived in the mountains of Colorado in Poudre Canyon. Grandma was living alone then and I asked her if she wanted to come and visit. She said Sure! We had a cute little cabin to rent and I fixed and cleaned and went and got Grandma who lived in Pierce. A big travel for me and my old green Dodge and three kids that were not in car seats! It was an excursion and Grandma treated it with lots of laughter and fun.
She proceeded to teach me how to make bread. She taught me lots of little things about her type of living and growing up in the “olden days.” I made sure she was nice and warm and helped her get situated in the little cabin. After supper of homemade chicken noodle soup, (Yes, grandma taught me how to make noodles too.) I walked her down to her cabin and kissed her goodnight.
The next morning, sun shining through the mountain air, I took a cup of coffee down to grandmas cabin. There she was – trying to fix the bed that had collapsed during the night. The mattress fell through the rails and “kerrplunk” she was trapped in the middle of the bed on the floor with the rails high above her. She explained while laughing until tears flowed, that she could not get out of the collapsed bed until she pulled all the covers back and stood up in the middle of the mattress and climbed over the rails. She “thought” she could put the mattress back up…but could not manage to get it off the floor. SO she just climbed back over the rails pulled the blankets up and slept on the mattress on the floor. I WAS HORRIFIED! I had worked so hard to make her comfortable! I had made sure everything was clean. I had gone through all the “what if’’s!” Grandma made it Ok by her laughter, smiles and hugs. My kids laughed with her too.
Grandma made most of my clothes from flour and feed sacks. I got to sew on her treadle machine. I also learned to cut something out without a pattern. Not to say Mom did not teach us how to sew, and cook and clean, she did. But grandma was my first recollection of learning how to do everyday chores in her world and always with a smile.
I smile when I write this and hope that you have memories as precious as mine.
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.