Pioneer Potluck: Growing up in the ’40s and ’50s

Susan’s crab cakes, Susan’s halibut a la Fairbanks, Jalapeno-stuffed smoked crab, hot seafood salad

  • Tuesday, May 28, 2019 11:24pm
  • Life

The following column is a story by Pat Corbella, co-authored by Ann Berg.

Some thoughts about growing up in the ’40s and ’50s, at a time when everyone treated each other with respect.

We didn’t eat a lot of fast food. We drank Kool-Aid, ate lunch meat sandwiches, PB&J sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, pot pies, but mostly homemade meals, such as meatloaf, fried potatoes, beans and cornbread.

We grew up during a time when we would gather glass bottles to take to the store and use the deposit money to buy penny candy. (We even got brown paper bags to put the candy in and saved the bag to put our treasures in!) You sure could get a lot for 25 cents. We went outside to play games, ride bikes, jumped rope and raced against siblings, played hide-and-seek, red rover, red light-green light, mother may I?, kick the can, ghost in the graveyard.

There was no bottled water, no microwaves or cable TV, no cellphones, no hair straighteners.

We ate eggs at the breakfast table before going to school. We watched “Gilligan’s Island” and “American Bandstand” or worked in the yard and garden after school. If you lived on a farm you had chores every morning before school and every evening after school. We watched some cartoons on Saturday morning.

If you were bad in school, you got in trouble there and when you got home you got in trouble again because they magically already knew. Paddling was allowed in school and you behaved yourself or else.

We would ride our bikes for hours all without a cellphone or electronic games.

You learned from your parents instead of disrespecting them and treating them as if they knew nothing. What they said might as well have been the gospel.

If someone had a fight, that’s what it was — a fist fight and you were back to being friends after. Kids who were around guns were taught to respect them and never thought of taking a life.

You had to be close enough to home to hear your mom yelling to tell you it’s time to come home for dinner. We ate around the dinner and supper table and talked to each other.

School was mandatory. We said the Pledge of Allegiance to our teachers. We said the Lord’s Prayer and sang Christmas songs at Christmas!

We watched what we said around our elders because we knew if we disrespected any grown-up we would get our behinds busted; it wasn’t called abuse. It was called discipline! We held doors, carried groceries and gave up our seat without being asked to.

You didn’t hear curse words on the radio or TV, and if IF you cursed you did it away from the public or you got your mouth washed out with a bar of soap.

“Please” and “thank you” were part of our daily dialogue.

We went to church Sunday morning. And some of us went Sunday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon. We didn’t have any kids sports on Wednesday afternoon or Sundays.

I am thankful for my childhood and will never forget where I came from! Wouldn’t it be nice if it were possible to get back to this way of life?

Memories are treasures to be given to others.


This is from my cookbook “Cookin’ Fish from Cold Alaskan Waters” in the “From the Recipe Box of Susan” section, page 124.

1 pound lump crab, imitation will do

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Mix well with:

1 egg

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning

1 teaspoon honey mustard

Cut crust from 3 slices of Wonder Bread. Cut into 3/4-inch cubes.

Mix with above ingredients and form into balls or patties. Fry in peanut oil or lard. (Guess how old this recipe is?)

Add a small amount of finely chopped onion if you like.



On our visits to Fairbanks — where Susan and Porter, Joe and Michael lived for 12 years — Susan served this wonderful halibut dish. A “Big Susie Salad” and wonderful fresh bread is all you need with this.

Place halibut fillets and pieces in a 9-by-13 glass baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan

Spoon on top of halibut.

Bake at 350 degrees until halibut tests done and top is nicely browned, about 35-45 minutes.

Let stand for 10 minutes and serve with Susie’s Salad and fresh bread.


Clean and seed whole fresh jalapenos (pickled jalapenos work also).

Mix in bowl:

1 package imitation crab, chopped

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Chopped chives, or 1/2 teaspoon minced onion

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Mix together and till jalapenos. Eat like that or bake in over for 10 minutes until cheese melts.


This is an excellent party picnic dish.

Mix together:

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon each garlic salt and pepper

1 can cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken

1/2 cup milk

Fold in:

A combination of salmon and halibut to make 4 cups (You can also add crab and shrimp) and 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and copped in large pieces

Place in oven-proof serving dish and top with:

1 1/2 cups of your favorite cheese

1 1/2 cup crushed potato chips

1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds (optional)

Sprinkle with pepper and paprika. Bake at 350 degrees for 3o to 40 minutes. Serve hot, but this is very good cold!

• By ANN “GRANNIE ANNIE” BERG, For the Peninsula Clarion

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