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Pioneer Potluck: About reminiscence of Christmases past

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December 14, 2011

At Susan's suggestion I write this:

Have you ever wanted to go back in time just to hear your Mother's or Dad's voice, or Grandma's and Grandpa's voice? My sister, Elaine, sent me a CD that has voices of most of my relatives and especially my Dad's and Mom's voice on it from the 1940s. I treasure this and wish everyone could hear voices of Christmases past. 

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My Uncle Guy bought the family a recorder this particular Christmas about 1949. He totted the big machine around everywhere with him. He recorded all the voice from our family and a few voices of our neighbors. Susan and I listened to this about a month ago and her comments were priceless. 

My Dad's voice is unbelievable and unmistakable, deep voiced, with the accent of a Kansan. His brother, my Uncle Guy, got Dad to "call" a Square Dance, which we had in a barn of my piano teacher. She played the piano and our neighbor Tony played the violin. Dad teasingly called it a "fiddle" but it was a very nice expensive violin, and at the hands of Tony, made wonderful music. Sometimes I got to play for the square dance with my teacher Kathryn, as a duet. I was so proud of myself. I was 12 yrs old. Mom made the square dancing dresses.

Dad could do the part of an auctioneer selling cattle, and we got hear him do that too. 

One year Dad was in charge of entertaining for the Grade School Christmas play. Mom made him a square dance dress, which was huge. Dad had taps put on his cowboy boots, a rag mop for a wig, painted on big red lips, and with the help of the neighbors, he put on a show that people talked about for years. My piano teacher played Jambalaya and Dad (who could not sing worth a lick) and the rest of the neighbor men sang and danced to the song around a make believe hobo camp. Other schools in the area requested him at their Christmas party that year.

Our little grade school was called Cactus Hill Observatory District #101. I went through all eight grades as the only one in my class. Probably the most pupils the little school had in all eight grades was 30. All neighbor kids, all my friends. All enjoyed my Dad. I mostly stood back and looked in disbelief at some of the antics he performed. 

At Christmas for the little school, Dad and Mom popped corn, as at that time Dad raised pop corn for Safeway and canned it in little blue cans. We shelled the ears by hand by rubbing the cobs together, under the clothes line, as the corn kernels fell on a sheet, so the "chaff" would blow away. 

The corn was popped in a big iron skillet on top of the stove, by shaking it back and forth until you did not hear it pop anymore. Then it was poured into the big dish pan. This procedure was repeated several times until the dish pan was full. Then Mom would boil sugar and water and syrup to a "crack" stage, put green food coloring in it, pour it on to the popped corn as Dad would stir and stir, then with his big hands dipped in cold water, he would form big pop corn balls. This was repeated until there were 100 popcorn balls. Then we would wrap then in waxed paper and tie them with a red or green ribbon. They were then transported in a big box to the school Christmas Party and Santa Claus would distribute them from his big Santa sack. I know this was lots of work, but the smiles on all the faces of the little kids were priceless as each one came up on stage, and received a toy and a popcorn ball. (The toys were bought by the parents in secret and given to Santa, with the name on it.)

As each name was called, the excitement mounted, because you waited with total giggling anticipation for your name. The close of the program was everyone standing and singing Christmas songs. The beginning song, "Star of the East," I played on the piano, and "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem." "Away in a Manger" was the closing song, or "Silent Night." Then Santa would say "God Bless you and your family and MERRRYYY CHRRISSTMASS!" That voice sounded a lot like my Dad!

I hope this little story will encourage you to buy a tape recorder for this Christmas and record the voices of your loved one. This record was made in 1949 and it is priceless to me. When Susan listened to this with me about a month ago, she stated that it made her so happy to hear Grandpa's and Grandma's voices again (my Dad and Mom), and to hear the voices she never heard, my Grandma and Grandpa, my Mom's parents, plus some of her aunts, Elaine, age 6, Ginger, age 8, and Uncle Jim, age 4, Uncle John, age 11, and lots of cousins. Do it now!  I am copying this CD for my children to have as a Christmas present.

The "Grannie Annie" Cook Book Series includes: "Grannie Annie's Cookin' on the Woodstove"; "Grannie Annie's Cookin' at the Homestead"; "Grannie Annie's Cookin' Fish from Cold Alaskan Waters"; and "Grannie Annie's Eat Dessert First." They are available at Fireweed Herb Garden and Gifts in Kenai and M & M Market in Nikiski.

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