Pioneer Potluck: About Bernie, airplanes and airports

Nikiski and Colorado, 1992


Have you ever had a dear friend that is such a delight to be around? Have you ever flown with that friend and go on a wonderful trip? Did you have so much fun that you wind up laughing every time you mention “Bernie and airports”? Everyone should take a trip with Bernie! What fun — well almost!

“Hi Bernie, I’m going to see my mom and sister in Boulder, Colorado and see the rest of the Colorado family. You want to go with me?”

Bernie lived in Colorado before her husband, King, moved her unwilling body, soul and mind to Alaska. What an unhappy lady! It was so hard for her to adjust. She had such good friends in Colorado. I am so happy they moved to this area because my life has not been the same since!

“Oh sure!” She replied. “That would be so much fun … when?” We planned all the details and made the reservations. The day finally came for us to leave.

(Bernie now lives in Nikiski in a beautiful house built by King on a lake and loves and enjoys everything about Alaska.)

We flew out of Kenai on a small airplane, with way too much luggage, the bulk of which we had transferred straight through toDenver. We also each had carry-ons with wheelies that you pushed, pulled and shoved around. We also had great BIG purses with long straps that slung over our shoulders, weighted down with too much junk inside. Arriving in Anchorage was uneventful, after all, what can happen on a 20 minute flight?

When you get off a small airplane in Anchorage, after they stop, they open the door and you are on your own. You have to retrieve your own carry-on out of the luggage compartment of the small airplane and wheel it into the airport. You become the luggage handler

Bernie stops flat in her tracks inside the door of the terminal, turns to me and says, “These darn purses are in the way! Here let me show you what we will do, so they do not hang off our shoulder and hurt our back.”

She grabbed my long strapped purse, began to wind it around and around the handle of the wheeled carry-on. She un-clips one of the clips that shorten the purse handle and re-clipped it up tight to the handle of the carry-on. Houdini could have not gotten that undone, let alone some purse snatcher. She did the same with hers.

Happy as a lark and both of us jabbering to each other, we arrived inside the big Anchorage airport. She stopped short again, takes a left into the cafeteria and said, “I’m hungry are you?”

Before I could say yes or no, she pushed her luggage into the slot-lane, ordered fruit, roll and juice. I did the same but wanted coffee. She pushed, pulled and shoved her wheelie luggage to the check stand. She fished around in her purse, tied to her wheelie luggage, got out her money and paid for her food. I look at my purse tied up in Houdini knots and could not get my hand into my purse to get my money!

I started untangling the darn thing, ending up un-clipping the long strap tied to the luggage, to which the big purse starts to fall onto the floor and leaves me standing there with my hand high in the air over my head, hanging onto the long strap to get my purse off the floor. I bent down, retrieve my purse, paid for the food, apologized to the waiting crowd behind me.

By then I was just a little bit embarrassed and a whole bunch aggravated! I pushed, I pulled, I shoved the wheelie luggage through the little slot-lane past the cash register. I got to a little table just as my purse fell on the floor again with me holding the end of the long strap. I jerked up on it so would not hit the floor. I retrieved the thing again! I flopped it on a little table, trying to get my red faced self composed, my wheelie luggage, my purse and long strap back in order.

I looked to see where my friend Bernie was. She was hiding over in the corner next to a booth laughing so hard she had her legs crossed with tears running down her face. She tried to point at me and all she did was break out in loud laughter. She bent over and went into hysterical laughter again and that made everybody turn and look at her and then back at me.

I looked back at what she thought was so darn funny I looked right into the eyes of a gentleman peeking over a newspaper, setting at the same table I had slam my purse down on. The poor man immediately hid behind the paper and Bernie started laughing again. I slung the wayward purse over my shoulder with the end of the strap and tried to push, pull, and shove the darn luggage thing over to her. By that time she was in the booth with her head on the table in a total laughing heap.

I started to sit down and get out of the limelight when I realized I had left my food on the poor gentleman’s table. I went to retrieve the food off the table and the poor gentleman was gone!

I shuffled back towards the laughing Bernie. She tried several times to tell me what happened through her hooting and laughing, tears streaming down her face. Seems I had yanked on the purse strap at the cash register and slung it around just missing the poor gentleman at the table by inches. He pulled down newspaper and looked at unsuspecting me, pull his paper backup and hid. I never even saw him! Then when I slammed the purse down on his table, never realizing he was within inches of me, he peeked over his paper again and that is when I finally saw him!

Bernie saw the whole thing and all she could do was laugh. She never came to my rescue! I finally saw the humor in my slinging, flying purse and started to laugh uncontrollably, which triggered Bernie’s giggle button again and we were both a mess.

I don’t think we even ate, we just laughed. Then it was time to push, pull, and shove the wheelie luggage to the gate so we could finally be on our way Seattle. We were taking a side trip to see my good friend, JoAnne, who had abandoned me several years ago and moved to Buckley Washington. It was going to be so good to see her.

Next week, Colorado, my mom and her purple hat, and Bernie and our return trip at the Denver airport.

The Pioneer Potluck series is written by 50-year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipesfrom 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 asmile to your day. Grannie Annie can be reached at


2 cups of tri-colored macaroni noodles (we call them screwdoddles around our house), cooked and drained

1 cup milk

1 cup cottage cheese

1 can of drained corn or Mexican is best

Small amount each onion and green pepper

Black pepper to taste

Shake of Tabasco and garlic salt.

2 eggs

1/2 cup shredded cheese

Spoon into a 9 x 13 inch dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

Remove and sprinkle with the following:

10 saltines crackers coarsely crushed

1/2 cup of shredded cheese

Return to the oven 30 minutes until brown and set.

Bob brought this recipe home with him for the platform years ago.


Boil about three pounds of potatoes and simmer until tender. Drain and chill overnight.

When ready to serve, bring a large kettle of water to a boil. Peel and grate potatoes into a bowl.

Add to bowl of grated potatoes:

3/4 cup flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

1 tsp salt or garlic salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Pinch of pepper

Combine and mix with hands until well mixed. Shape into small one inch balls and roll into flour. Add dumplings to the boiling water a little at a time to keep the water boiling.

Simmer uncovered and as the dumplings rise to the top let them boil 2 minutes longer. Remove with a slotted spoon to a warm serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley.

So good with chicken or beef roast and gravy. Good with gingersnaps (sauerbraten) gravy.

I looked for a long time for this recipe. Our German neighbors served with beef or chicken gravy.


Peanut butter cake with chocolate frosting!

1 3/4 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cups butter

1 1/3 cups sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cups peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup milk

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In mixing bowl beat butter and sugar unit light and beat in eggs. Beat in peanut butter and vanilla. On low blend milk, the slowly blend in dry ingredients. Mix well.

Pour into oiled floured 9 x 13 pan or 2 round pans. Bake at 250 degrees for 35 minutes.

Frost with chocolate peanut better frosting. Buy the canned frosting and stir in a least 1/2 cup smooth peanut better.