Pioneer Potluck: Dad and his birthdays

Pioneer Potluck: Dad and his birthdays

  • By Ann 'Grannie Annie' Berg
  • Tuesday, February 10, 2015 4:56pm
  • LifeFood

On a farm in Northern Colorado

Born in Kansas,

Feb. 15, 1914 to1983


Dad always had a story about everything, whether it was long or short, right, wrong or funny. He could find the funny side of most people. He loved to tell jokes over and over and over! He laughed harder than anyone he was telling the joke to and sometimes would not get through the joke without breaking down and laughing uncontrollably.

His best friend for years was Rev. Grether and together they loved to tell stories with happy endings or a moral. I do not know whether Dad told this story or Rev. Grether, but Dad always told it like it was his own story, maybe it was. Seems a Preacher and a Farmer-Dad were walking into the barn with a milk pail to do the late evening milking chores. He was tired from being in the field on a tractor all day long and was in a bit of a hurry as he called the milk cows into the barn.

He sat down on the three-legged milk stool, when Farmer-Dad’s 12-year-old son come running in, “Dad-Dad, I need some help with these geography questions. Can you help me?” The Farmer-Dad turned around on the stool, looked at his son and began to explain right then and there the answer to the questions.

With all the questions answered and the son satisfied, the Farmer-Dad turned around and started milking. The Preacher-Man asked, “Why did you take the time right now, when you were in a hurry and tired? You could have waited until you got all your chores done and in the house to answer all those questions.” The Farmer-Dad said, very thoughtfully, “Because he may never come this way again and I may never get another chance to answer his questions.”

This story fits our Dad pretty accurately. He loved to tell stories with a moral. He also loved to hear them and to repeat them with his own twist, which leads me to the the following story.

I was running as fast as my 6-year-old little legs could, trying to keep up with my Dad going to the milk barn to milk Bessy. “Hey Dad,” as I grabbed his big hand, “how come Butch has black hair, Ginger has pretty curly auburn hair, Mom has black hair, you have auburn hair and I have this white, straight, stringy stuff?” (He called me Cotton Top!) Being in his usual hurry, he shot back at me, “Oh, I found you under the wood pile!”

I stopped in my tracks, looked at him, as he hurried off. I turned around and started to cry. He thought he had answered my question and went on to milk Bessy.

I knew it! I just knew it! I am adopted! My hair don’t match anyone else’s around here! I went into a worrywart state, about being adopted and WHO my real family was and WHERE I came from for several years, until I was 12.

We were doing our Sunday entertainment, which was looking at family picture albums and listening to the endless stories Dad would tell again and again, when my eyes fell upon the photograph of my Grandma Cogswell, my Mom’s mother. “I look like Grandma!” I shouted, scaring the half-asleep audience. Dad turned his head slowly in utter amazement. “Well of course you do!”

I looked at him, “And I’m not adopted?”

“Well of course not! Whoever told you, you were?”

I never said a word or offered any explanation, but from then on I never worried about being adopted. I loved my Grandma even more. I never told Dad. He would have just laughed at me anyway!

My first recollection of Dad and Valentine’s Day, was him getting out of the big pea green Dodge with a big red Valentine candy box under his arm and a big bouquet of flowers for Mom. And the one thing I will never forget, was the big grin on his face.

Valentine’s Day was very special around our house because we were busy preparing for Dad’s birthday on the 15th of February. The whole day was taken up by making a birthday cake for him, which in later years was a chocolate angel food cake, but I do believe Mom made a big round two-layered chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for most of his birthdays before that.

Of course, the cake was baked from scratch with eggs from the hen house and cream and milk from our cow. Mom made wonderful frostings for her cakes. Divinity frosting was her masterpiece. She enjoyed making it and the cake, using every pot and PAN in the house. I know, I was the dishwasher!

The next day, Dad’s birthday supper, Mom usually had fried chicken, mashed “taters” (Dad’s word), wonderful milk gravy (that Dad called “glue”), corn and warm yeast rolls that Mom had made that morning. We set the table extra special, folding napkins, putting the salt and pepper and a bowl of butter in front of Dad’s plate. Dad appeared out of the bathroom, hands and face washed, hair combed and a big grin on his face. No one enjoyed his birthday party any more than he did!

Dad was born in Kansas in 1914 and he died in Colorado in 1983.

I wrote this for my first cookbook “Cooking on the Wood Stove” in 2001.


A Special Tribute To Our Dad

He was a lot of fun

We learned to laugh often.

He enjoyed people and life

And he always had a story to tell.

He played jokes and pranks

And no one laughed harder

Or more often than he did!


We all still miss him.


Ann “Grannie Annie” Berg is a 44-year resident of Alaska. 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. Grannie Annie can be reached at

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