Pioneer Potluck: About living in the pink log house and getting a visit from NORAD

Early spring of 1967,
Fort Collins, Colorado



The last of March, 1967, Jack informed me that he thought he should go to Alaska because he had heard you could make great money there. He had studied Petroleum Engineering at Colorado School of Mines in Golden under the G.I. Bill and felt if he would come to Kenai where they were drilling for oil and he could get a good paying job in the oil industry. He packed his clothes in a duffel bag and left the first week in April.

I heard from him about a week later saying he had gotten a parts man job at Ken’s Auto in Kenai. He gave me a phone number telling me it was the auto parts store number. The place where he lived did not have a phone. As everybody knows during the 50s and 60s in Alaska, phones were almost nonexistent.

I called the next week but was unable to talk to him. I called the next week and the next week as I had not heard from him. I called the third week and he said he was still working for Ken’s auto, but added that his application in at several oil drilling companies. I asked him if we could come up and join him and he said “no-no that’s not a good idea.”

So my forever working brain decided that maybe me and the kids should just sell everything we had and go to Alaska and surprise him. (That’s the gypsy in my soul working overtime!)

I called Ken’s Auto to tell him that we would be on our way to Alaska about the first week in July but the voice on the other in line said “Col. (so-and-so) NORAD. Sate your business.” I said I must have the wrong number. I was dialing Ken’s Auto in Kenai, Alaska. There was a pause and the Colonel said “How did YOU get this number and WHO are you calling??” So I repeated who I was looking for and who I had dialed. He said you have reached North American Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado and I need to get some information from you. After telling him exactly where I lived, who I worked for, how old I was, he also added we will have to run an intelligence report on me. And I said OK? He hung up and I hung up. I had dialed the area code for Colorado and the phone number for Ken’s Auto in Kenai.

Smiling about my conversation with a Colonel at NORAD, I related the story to Dad. He got a kick out of it also. That afternoon while I was sweeping off the porch steps, a dark green Army looking fancy car drove up in my driveway. It had some kind of Army symbol on the side. An Army person with lots of stars and ribbons stepped out of the passenger side. Two Army guys got out of the back seats and the driver opened his door and they all stood at attention at the open car doors.

The Army guy with all the stars and ribbons walked up to me and introduced himself. “Hello I’m Colonel (so-and-so) from North American Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs, I am here to interview you because you dialed a secret number that is only documented at NORAD.” They had driven up from Colorado Springs to interview me.

I said I explained to the gentleman on the phone that I dialed the wrong number. He said that gentleman was him. “I need to follow-up on the reason why you dial the wrong number. And I need to know the number you are calling, where you are calling, and who you were calling.”

I explained again and told him who I was calling, gave him the names of the person I was calling. One of the Army personnel had a notebook and he was writing everything down.

The interview took all of 8 to 10 min. The Colonel thanked me and turned around got back in his army green car, one of the back seat Army guys shut his door and got in, the driver got in, backed out and drove away.

Still standing in the driveway with my broom, all my neighbors came walking over to see why I was so famous. It was the topic of conversation the rest of the bright, sunny, warm Colorado afternoon, as we sat on the porch steps.

Oh! That’s not the end of the story! NORAD called Ken’s Auto in Kenai, Alaska to verify that there was a Jack Bateman working there. No, said Ken he just got hired at Pan-American oil company. I do not know who else they called.

NORAD is a command station that was built in 1961, inside Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs. They have since been revised several times through the years, from their early detection of missiles and undocumented aircraft. Terrorism has dramatically changed NORAD.

NORAD system covers all of Alaska, northern Canada and all of North America.

You have probably heard of them as it tracks Santa from the North Pole on Christmas Eve. For more information about NORAD there are several sites available on Google.

Wood Chopper Bean Soup

Moose sausage, Kielbasa, or other flavorful sausage can go in this good hearty Alaskan soup, cooked on the woodstove. It is just waiting for us when we come in from splitting and stacking our supply of wood for the winter. And if you are in a hurry – 2 cans of Great Northern beans, drained will be sufficient. OH! If you do not have a woodstove, use your crock pot!! Same amount of time, about 6-8 hours on low. Start in the morning, done by supper time.

2 cups of dry Great Northern Beans.

Water to cover or use chicken broth to cover.

Set on woodstove to cook for about 3 hours.

Then add the following:

1 cup, cut up Kielbasa or moose sausage or diced ham

1 cup onions-diced

1/2 cup celery-sliced

1 cup carrots-sliced

1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp pepper

A pinch of red pepper (cayenne)

Let cook another 3 hours. Mash slightly and simmer until thick.

Serve with crackers, sourdough bread or garlic sour dough toast.


Vege-roni Soup

Hardly any fat, very filling, tasty too! Welcome change for the all vegetable soup!

3 cups water in a large pot

1 can (28oz) Italian diced tomatoes

1 can low sodium low fat chicken broth

1 onion cut in chunks

1 carrot cut in chunks

1 stalk of celery cut in large pieces

1 tblsp minced garlic

1 teas brown sugar

2 tblsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 teas thyme

1/4 teas marjoram

1/4 teas oregano

1/4 teas basil

1 small bay leaf

A pinch of rosemary

1/2 cup red kidney beans

2 tblsp tomato paste

Simmer 5 minutes to bring up the water temperature (you may have to add more water)

Add 1/2 cup frozen vegetable medley (containing corn, green beans, peas, lima beans, etc.)

Bring to boil and add:

1/2 cup small elbow roni. Bring to boil – turn down to simmer for 10 minutes until roni is cooked- stirring gently so as not to burn as the roni will thicken this great tasting soup. Do not break up the roni while stirring! Serve piping hot in bowls; sprinkle Romano cheese over top if desired. Serve with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. Makes about 6 large servings.

Egg Drop Soup with Chicken and Noodles

4 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cup water

3 tblsp soy sauce

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger – I think this made it bitter, so I use 1 tblsp fresh grated

4 oz rice noodles or Pad Thai noodles, broken in 3 “ pieces (I use regular noodles)

2 tblsp cornstarch

2 eggs beaten

1 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken

3 scallions, thin sliced

Bring broth and 1 1/2 cups water, soy sauce, garlic and ginger to boil. Reduce and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove garlic and add noodles. Cook until tender.

Stir cornstarch and 2 tblsp water together and whisk into hot broth. Cook 1 minute.

Stir soup so it is moving in circular motion. Pour the beaten eggs in a slow steady stream. Stir in chicken and serve with scallions. 6 serving …

Brownie Cookies

1 pkg chewy fudge brownie mix

1/4 cup melted butter

2 eggs

Stir in 1/2 cup nuts (walnuts-pecan, salted peanuts)

1/2 cup chocolate chips or M&M’s or Reese’s pieces

Shape into balls (about three tablespoons) Place on a cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes