Pioneer Potluck: Growing up in the 40s and 50s on the farm

Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Our young lives were full of "what if." How about yours?

"Did you change your underwear before we go to town, Edith Ann? What if we have a wreck and you have to go to the doctor or hospital?" I firmly believed if I did not have clean underwear and socks on that I would go to the hospital. Grandma asked me that every time I would go to town with her and Grandpa in the old black four-door car.

Mom was full of "what if's." "Comb your hair, change you socks. What if the neighbors came by and seen you. Wash your face. What if "

If there was a knock on the door, Mom would say, "put your shoes on." My Mom loved to go bare foot and very seldom wore shoes in the house. If the neighbor did show up at the door, she put her shoes on first, then opened the door. She loved to go barefoot in the grass, and let us take our shoes off, too, only if the neighbors could not see us. Our closest neighbor was about a mile away.

After chores and supper on Saturday night, we would get our Sunday shoes and "spit and shine" them while Dad shined his. Mom had the clothes already ironed and ready for Sunday church.

Saturday night we had our baths in the old galvanized tub. Mom heated the water on the old black stove and Dad would pour the water into the tub. All three of us were plunked into the tub. Mom would get her big fresh smelling towels out and we would get scrubbed from head to toe with a washrag and homemade soap. We were then wrapped in the big towel and rubbed raw by Dad "scrubbing" us dry. Then Mom would curl my straight white hair with bobby pins. My sister, Ginger, had beautiful auburn curly hair and needed no bobby pins. My brother, Johnny, had dark brown hair.

When Ginger, Johnny and me were dressed for Sunday church and our hair combed, we were given one last inspection as we went out the door with Dad to go to church. Mom stayed home, probably from shear exhaustion. Her last words as we trailed out the door to the car with Dad were "be good!"

"What if's" was everywhere as we went to the door to go to school, also. We got the final inspection, one by one, then handed our lunch pails. Told to set up straight in school and listen to your teacher. She packed our lunches in big old black lunch buckets, with fresh baked bread, her good cookies or cake, her pickles, some potato chips and a fresh fruit. In the winter hot homemade soup in a Thermos and her canned peaches. What if she did not bake bread, cookies or cake, every week? What would the teacher think if we had to eat store-bought bread, cookies or cake! We never traded lunches at school because Mom said ours was the best. And what if ..? I never traded sandwiches or cookies, because "what if" Mom found out!

We walked home from school a distance of two miles in the spring and fall. "Now walk on the side of the road, what if a car came along." Usually when a car came down the dusty gravel road, it was our neighbor and "it would not be right to pass those kids without giving them a ride." "Did you say thank you for giving you a ride?"

"Yes we did."

The series is written by a 44 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

Creamy Noodles and Chicken

Serves two with leftovers.

2 cups cooked cubed chicken

2 cups of cooked wide egg-noodles

1 small onion chopped

1 stalk celery chopped

Grate 1 carrot for color

1 can cream of chicken soup OR

1 can cream of mushroom soup.

1 soup can of milk

Heat slowly and stir in 1/2 cup sour cream.

Serve in bowls garnished with chopped green onion and toasted sour dough bread.

Creamy Noodles and Beef

2 cups cooked beef cubed

2 cups cooked egg noodles

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1/2 half onion chopped

1 stalk celery chopped

1 small can of mushroom, liquid and all

1 soup can of milk

1 cup of sour cream

Heat all through except the sour cream.

Stir in sour cream after heated.

Rhubarb Custard Pie

My relatives in Colorado tell me that the rhubarb is peeking through. This was my first pie I made in Alaska and still is one of my favorites.

Line a 9-inch glass pie pan with unbaked pie shell

Add 3 cups of cut up fresh rhubarb into the shell

In a bowl beat:

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tblsp milk

3 tblsp flour

Dash of salt

Splash of vanilla extract

Pour over rhubarb


1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Sprinkle over pie

Bake 400 for 60 minutes.

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