Pioneer Potluck: About what ifs

1940’s to Now



Several years ago I was given a little book from my grandson, Michael and my great grand daughter Cecile, that is entitled”Grandma Tell Me Your Memories.” Through the years I have filled out pages that have different questions on them and the month and day. One of the questions is “If you could return to your childhood what would you do differently?” I wrote “ Be happier and not worry so much about what other people thought. Spend more time with my Mom and Dad, playing more with my Sisters and Brothers. Learn more from Mom. Ask questions about their past and how Mom and Dad met.”

Well, how they met will always be a mystery, and I did learn a lot from my Mom and I did spend a lot of time asking my Dad questions. “Dad why is my hair white and your hair is wavy brown and Moms is black?” He replied “I found you out behind the wood shed.” From then on, I worried that I was adopted until I saw a picture of my Grandma Cogswell when I was age 12 - I looked just like her!

I am the oldest in the John McClure family and I loved to”take care”of my two sisters, Ginger and Elaine, as instructed by my Mom. I learned to run from my brother John, who loved to tease me although he was a year younger than me. I loved to rock my little brother Jim and my little sister Elaine to sleep in the wooden rocking chair or to swing them in the old rope swing. Those are memories I cherish.

However I also learned from my mom “the what if’s.”

Comb your hair and wash your hands, what if we have company? Stay clean, don’t splash through mud puddles, put your shoes on before you answer the knock at the door. Those were what if’s that are still linger with me. Always be pleasant - say Please and Thank You. Smile and be friendly to everyone. Change your underwear everyday. Don’t pick you nose! And she always said us as we went out the door -”YOU BE NICE!” If you ask Susan, she says I say that!

When I reached my teens and was shown how to wear makeup by Mrs Burke in Home Ec.. My Mom would not allow me to wear lipstick around the house-what if Grandma and Grandpa or you Dad saw you? So when I got on the bus in the morning the first thing I did was put lipstick on - but I had to be sixteen to do this. The contrast today with the youngest of girls wearing makeup, and clothes that my family would not think was “proper” boggles my mind.

The question on the next page of this little book, “Is there anything you would do differently as a teenager. I wrote “ Not worry so much!” Oh my goodness the list is long-I spent hours combing my hair after I spent hours every night curling my straight as string hair with bobby pins. I spent hours ironing my clothes, making sure everything I was going to wear matched. I shined my shoes, black and white “saddle oxfords” (we had one pair for school and a dress pair for church) and making sure I looked just right before I climbed on the school bus in my teen years. I never passed a mirror without looking to see if everything was perfect-and if it wasn’t I worried about that!!

I also spent most of my young life worrying about pleasing Mom and Dad. Or my Mom admonishments, “You kids just wait until your Dad comes in from the field!’ We had to line up on the old couch in the corner of the kitchen and wait for Dad to come in-wait for Mom to tell him how bad we had been-and then wait for my Dad to make up his mind what he was going to say or do-so HE could please my Mom. We usually ended up filing out to the barn, setting on a hay bale, while Dad pulled up the milk stool and told his stories. Then he would say stand up Ann -he would whip off his belt-smack the center post of the barn three times-tell me to sit down-tell my brother “Butch or Sonny as we called him” stand up, and he smacked the center post three times and tell us to make a lot of noise. By the time he got to my little sister Ginger, he just picked her up as she was already sobbing, told us to act like we had been spanked with his belt. We filed back into the house, Dad carrying Ginger, trying to act like we were sad and had a sore bottom. It sure was hard not to smile! Mom didn’t do this very often, but when she did we did not worry too much of the consequences dealt out by my Dad.

And what did you worry about-and what do you worry about now? I am not telling what I worry about now!


My wish is - Keep Our America Safe! Protect those who are suffering and Thank You God for another day!!


This is very easy and can be made on top of the stove or in the oven.

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 onion, diced

1/4 cup green or red bell pepper diced

1/4 cup celery, finely sliced

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

1 can of cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, or cream of celery soup-undiluted

1 can evaporated milk-you can use 2% milk if you like, but it changes the flavor.

Heat in a large skillet, the oil, sauté the vegetables, add chicken, and cook for 6 to 7 min. per side until golden. Blend together the canned soup and milk, stir into skillet. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 min. until chicken juices run clear. Serve with mashed potatoes or noodles or rice. I serve mine right from the skillet.

NOTE: To bake in the oven, after stirring the soup and milk into the skillet, transfer to a buttered baking dish or casserole, sprinkle with pepper and a few bread crumbs. Bake for 30 min. YUMMY!


This is a recipe fro the Timanth Columbine Club, published in 1948. It is my Mom’s book that I inherited. I recognize a lot of recipes that she used. I also recognized a lot of neighbors and farmer friends of Mom and Dad. This one is interesting by Agnes Fraser.

1 pkg Philadelphia cream cheese

10 cents worth of marshmallows

1 small can crushed pineapple

1 cup cream, whipped and added to cream cheese and pineapple.

This recipe leave a lot to the imagination, as I would use room temperature cream cheese and, of course, Cool whip for the whipped cream. Then refrigerate for about 4 hours. I know Bob would love this!!


I have looked for this recipe for several years.

It is from the same cookbook, Timnath Columbine Club. Submitted by Donna Gayle Thayer

1 cup ground carrots

1/2 cup ground raisins

1/2 cup salad dressing

Pinch of salt

Juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 orange

Combine ingredients.

NOTE: My Mom used to grind the carrots and raisins in an old hand crank “meat” grinder. Then she would throw in a handful of salted peanuts and grind them. We would get this on her homemade bread, in our school lunches she packed for all five of us for years.



Through the years I have been asked for recipes using bear, goat and moose.

Here is a recipe for using bear, but I bet moose and goat would be OK too.

I have not made this but am told it is very good. I will take you word for it!

1 pound ground bear meat

1 or 2 onions chopped

2 stalks celery chopped

1 or 2 clove garlic minced

2-16 ounce cans tomato sauce

3 to 5 tablespoons chili powder

1/3 teaspoon or more cayenne pepper

1-8 ounce can tomato paste

Dash of Tabasco sauce

1-15 ounce canned kidney beans-drain

Over medium heat in a large heavy skillet, brown meat in one tablespoon oil. Add onions, celery, garlic and tomato sauce. Simmer until onions and celery are tender, stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 min. Serves four. You could put this on your wood stove and simmer all day.


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