Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kids & Work

I spent three more hours today transcribing the old tape I found from July 4, 1985. Next time my kids feel picked on because I made them work as children, I want them to think about this:

Dad [Grandpa Robertson]: ...Then we had that big garden down below there which we had to irrigate. It came out o’ that same spring where we got the water. We run it around the hill and irrigated. We raised all our own potatoes and carrots and rutabagas and peas and beans.

And we always had corn, cucumbers and onions that we raised. And turnips. We’d all go down there, all four of us kids and Mom, and we’d weed it, we’d help plant it, we’d rake it after it was ploughed. Dad would plough it. He always had a horse and a plough.

Me: About how old were you?

Dad: That was about seven years old...

And we’d take and hoe the corn. We’d help plant the garden, help rake it. Our job was to help water it. Mom would be there to help us. Dad and John were generally out working on a ranch some place during the summer time or for the Forest Service, or in a mine. So it was up to Mom and us kids to take care of the garden and we did. Then we’d pick and shell peas and have peas and new potatoes and beans and a little bit of bacon on them. Always raised radishes. Mom always made our own homemade bread, of course. She’d bake a big batch and every time she’d bake bread, she’d bake a pan of cinnamon rolls. Sometimes, we’d run out of butter. We’ve used Crisco for butter more than once. A time or two when there wasn’t much else around to eat why I remember that we’d make sandwiches, spread Crisco on ‘em and cut up radishes and have radish sandwiches.

Me: That doesn’t sound very good.

Dad: Well, they were pretty good, actually.

Asian Vegetable-Beef Soup

This probably could be made meatless. It has a kick to it.

1 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
1T. oil
2 c. water
1 1/4 c. beef broth
1/4 c. reduced sodium soy sauce
6 green onions
3 T. brown sugar
2 garlic cloves
1 T. minced fresh ginger root
2 t. sesame oil
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 c. fresh mushrooms
1 1/2 c. julienned carrots
1 c. sliced bok choy
1 1/2 c. uncooked long grain rice
Chive blossoms, optinal

Brown meat with oil. Pressure cook until tender. (Pressure cooker should have guide to tell you how long. I cook 35 minutes on high ring.) Cook the rice in rice cooker or separate pan. Add the remainder of the ingredients and simmer until carrots are done. (If carrots are done, everything else will be.) Divide rice among 6 soup bowls - 3/4 c. in each bowl. Top each bowl with soup. Garnish with chives.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


We have a family that just moved in from California at church. The mother is complaining about how AWFUL the schools are here. According to her, her kids will not be academically challenged. I gather she is not pleased to be here generally. Would it be rude to advise her to contact all her friends and neighbors in California and tell them EVERYTHING she hates about being here?

Oh, all right. It would be rude. But she probably wouldn't get where I'm going anyway.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Washing Circa 1920

Not long a go I discovered at tape I made with my Mom and Dad on July 4, 1985. I had zero recollection of making this tape. But it was so wonderful to hear the voices of my parents again. I also heard the voices and piano music of my little kids. I am still not done transcribing it. Here is a section about washing in when my parents were kids:


Dad: ....then the next year Dad built the log cabin down below in Kingsberry Gulch where we were there. And we had a lumber floor and so forth: one big room. Outdoor privy. We’d take and screen off the area right behind the stove and took our baths in a tin wash tub.

Mom: We used to do that too. My mother had a big black shawl that she used to put around so that we’d have a private place.

Dad: And we hung blankets and sheets and stuff off to screen it out. It was warm behind the stove!

Mom: And I can tell you that more than one kid took a bath in that water also.

Dad: That’s right. Because where you had to carry water for a hundred yards up in three gallon pails – carry two of ‘em at a time one in each hand.

Mom: Every kid had their hair washed with vinegar water as the last rinse to get the soap out.


Dad: When it came to washing, we had a big copper boiler. Put all the clothes in that. Put it on the stove and put soap in it and boil ‘em. And then left ‘em out..”

Mom: That’s the way everybody did their clothes. They boiled all their whites.

Dad: And then they washed them on a rubbing board and put them in a little cooler water…” And rub ‘ em on a wash board. And then ring them out through two different rinses to get the soap out of them.

Mom: When I was sixteen years old, when I used to go out and see my sister in Velda(?)
Utah, we were still heatin’ the water outside in the summer over the fire outside and boiling the white clothes over the fire.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Depression

Although I did not live through the depression, its influence was strong in the home where I grew up. My Mom sewed all the dresses I wore to church. The first time I remember having a store bought dress was an Easter dress purchased for me at the old McDonalds store downtown when I was thirteen. It was a pink, button down dress. I’m sure I looked hideous in it since pink has never been my color.

When sewing, Mom saved the scraps of material from sewing and stashed them in a plastic sack in the closet. Although, most of the material wasn’t the kind of material you can make quilts out of and my mother didn’t quilt anyway. It’s hard to believe now, but quilting was a lost art in the 1960’s and 70’s. Not wanting to waste, Mom cut buttons, which we never used, off old shirts. She strung the buttons together as a set and put them in a button box. If we ever used a button out of that box, it’s news to me. But it was a good lesson in using my noggin to find ways to conserve.

Dad had his own idiosyncrasies from the Depression. He bought canned rhubarb on sale and stockpiled them in the pantry. This choice of foot storage item here is interesting since we had a rhubarb plant in the backyard and years would go by before my Mom would make a rhubarb pie. Dad bought canned oysters occasionally. He would heat up milk on the stove and drop in the canned oysters and serve it with oyster crackers. He called it oyster stew. I’m sorry to say it was AWFUL.

After I left home, I dropped by the house one day, to find Dad repairing an iron tool that had broken. He was using my Mom’s vacuum cleaner as a bellows to get his “forge” hot enough to bend the iron. This event sticks out in my memory since my Dad just loved to buy tools. I don’t ever remember him fixing a tool before this incident. Although, he never threw anything away either. Unfortunately, organization was not his strong suit. He would misplace tools he bought and then find it easier to go out and buy another tool rather than find the misplaced one.

Mom was of an entirely different cut. If she bought something once, it was never to be lost, and if the family was taking appropriate care of the item, it should never, ever break. I mean never. Anything breaking around our place was a testament to what a pack of wasteful, white trash we were.

My parent’s generation was the generation that was forced to march off to war and face the armies of Hitler and Japan. I have wondered if their tough experiences in the Depression prepared them for the war.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Etiquette For Men

1) Never call another guy during the last two minutes of a close pro football game.

2) Never turn down a guy who got an elk and needs your help getting the elk to his truck.

Wilbur tells me there are really no other rules of etiquette for men. Only two rules of etiquette would make life much simpler.