Pioneer Potluck: Gail’s green dress

  • By Grannie Annie
  • Tuesday, March 8, 2016 12:44pm
  • LifeFood

St. Patrick’s, 1964

Poudre Canyon, Colorado


We moved to Poudre Canyon in the spring of 1964. We had all summer to get settled and explore the wonders of the beautiful canyon. I was working at the Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins. Every morning I would pack up the kids and we would head down the canyon in my big four door green Chrysler, 1950 + something car. Big car, big tires, lots of room in the back seat for three kids. My Mom babysat that summer and in the fall I had a nice lady in Fort Collins, named Velma who took care of Susan and David while Gail went to school in La Porte. She was in the third grade and hated every day of it. She tells me that it was not a friendly school. I had a belief that came from my parents – schools and school teacher were ALL nice and that they were there to teach, smile and be friendly. I guess this was not the case for Gail. Her teacher she did not like and some of the students in her class were, in her words bullies. I ignored most of her everyday complaints, mostly because I had to drop off David and Susan and get to work at the hospital.

We made it through the fall, into winter and the snowy days driving up and down the canyon 5 days a week. Most of the time we enjoyed the drive and I tried to show them different sights along the Poudre River until we reached our little house perched on a big rock about 6 miles up the canyon. Some of the time, the kids were tired, hungry and grumpy. One very very stressful day, I was concentrating on the snowy road, thinking about how my personal life was NOT! Then plans of making a fire in the big fireplace, fix something to eat, heat water, wash dishes, wash faces and get everyone to bed. I would lay out clothes for the next day and either sew or read Dr. Zivago, a complicated book that took me all winter to plow through.

I had warned the kids many times, on our trip up the canyon, if they did not stop grumbling and picking on each other, I would dump them out along side the road next to the river. This particular day, enough was enough!! Gail was bothering and teasing Susan and David and they all were being very vocal! I swung into a large parking place beside the river. Slammed on the brakes, got out and jerked open the back door, told them to get out, they had to walk home. The screams were loud and the little fingers were pointing at Gail. I told them ALL to get out. They did among screams of “Gail did it!” I slammed the back door, got in, slammed my door and drove off with the screams of my kids echoing up and down the canyon! I made it to the other end of the parking area, open the door and told them to get back in and be quiet. (I actually had this move planned for a long time and would have not left them there!)

My poor traumatized kids were very, very quiet all the way home! I wondered why I had not done that weeks before! AND for the rest of the time we lived in the mountains, if there was a tiff of any kind, Gail was the first to squelch it, by telling her brother and sister, “ You guys be quiet, or Mom will dump us out again!” We sang songs, sometimes, but most of the time they snoozed all sprawled out in the big back seat.

I made Gail and Susan matching dresses for Christmas. It was so much fun, even though I saved and saved every penny for material and stayed up extra late just to finish them. David got a new shirt and slacks.

Wanting to sew again to fill in the lonesome nights, I saved enough money to buy some green material to make Gail and Susan cute green dresses to wear for St. Patrick’s Day. Finishing ahead of time, I bought green socks and green ribbons for their hair. Time for the day of “wearin’ of the green.” I paid particular attention to Gail’s dress, long sash to tie in the back in a big bow. Curled her hair in bobby pins the night before. Dressed her, to much of her great disagreement! She wanted to wear slacks and a tee shirt. I put a green ribbon in her hair. She looked so cute! Put the dress on Susan who always loved new things to wear and a bow in her hair. Put a new green shirt on David. I had to wear uniforms to the hospital but I made sure that I had a green shamrock pinned to it.

At that time the bus picked Gail up in the canyon and took them to school in La Porte but I picked her up after school. When I got off work, I picked up Sue and David from Velma’s and went through Fort Collins, to La Porte Elementary School. There was my fuming daughter waiting for me in all her stomping glory! She climbed in the car – screamed at me – threw the hair bow at me-untied the sash-pulled the dress over her head and threw it at me!! I was so astonished…then she screamed, “MOM! YOU put this green dress on me and it isn’t even St. Patrick’s DAY!” What? I said. “Tomorrow is the day! I got teased all day!” I felt so bad and to this day I feel bad. And NO ONE at the hospital said a word about my green shamrock pin. I did not have a clue!

Feeling badly for Gail, I told her she could sit in the front seat. I pulled in to a little corner gas-grocery-ice cream place before heading up the mountain and told the kids they could have a ice cream cone. That was OK, but Gail was NOT getting out of the car. So I brought her a cone, but to my dismay – the special of the day was green mint ice cream. And NO I did not buy Gail a green ice cream. I did however scar my oldest daughter for life. She never forgot that day. And to my knowledge does not recognize St. Patrick’s day like we did when we were kids growing up on a farm with a big Irish father, named John Melvin McClure!


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

Cookbooks make great gifts!

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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