Please give my regards to Bernadette.
I so liked the photo and pie story, you shared on her birthday.
To my Dunseith friends, this tale is about rhubarb.
Life sometimes throws us tangy, yet if we look closer, perhaps,
can find, sweeter Knowledge.
Once again, with Gary’s story of Bernadette’s Pumpkin dessert
I recall my first attempt, baking from scratch _Homemade Rhubarb Cake.
side note ( I don’t believe I ever used a cake mix from a box until I was an adult,)
I believe, I was going into the 4th grade.
I had finally recovered from appendix surgery, and was moving free again.
One morning, after breakfast, I asked my mom if I could bake, and ran to the patch.
I looked and found rosy red, tender rhubarb stalks which I pulled, and cleaned there in the garden.
I estimated and filled a flat pan,went to the house, got a sharp knife and the cutting board, sat on the steps,
I chopped rhubarb like I had watched my mother.
Mom had pulled her recipe from her box and gave it to me.
I read the recipe and did not ask questions or for any help.
After all, I was going into 4th grade and I had read 98 books in third!
……I was “so full of myself again………”
After the pitiful hospital experience in later May, with determined outlook,
I once again claimed back my inner INDEPENDENT nature!
I set the oven on preheat.
I gathered ingredients; cream, sugar, salt, eggs, flour, vanilla.
I got to use Mom’s electric Sunbeam mixer!
And, I mixed while keeping all the tools clean.
I kept fingers out of the bowl, absolutely NO licking!
Yes, I was tempted, but more than determined.
I did not want to jinx this, first time.
I placed chopped rhubarb with sugar in the bottom of the old cake pan.
I put in the 1 tsp. of pure vanilla, and inhaled the smell.
Then folded,and smoothed batter over the rhubarb.
I did waste, a taste, or a lick!
I was not to be deterred by a quick finger lick, however tempting.
The cake pan went into the combination wood/electric stove.
I waited and watched, the clock for the alloted time,and kept busy.
For my first cake making experience, that afternoon,
as others watched “Queen for A Day” on Television,
I truly OWNED the kitchen!
Our family had just gotten running water that May.
While I was hospitalized, Dad hired Duane Sorbin from Bottineau.
He had finished digging a deep ditch to bring water from the well
and another to a drain field for the sewer.
I did not know this was going to happen. In those days in privacy,
parents made quiet plans and discussed finances without children.
My parents were two of a kind, savers. They saved so they could finally have running water,
and indoor plumbing.
No more going out side to out house toilet or dumping winter slop pails!
No more heating water on the stove! No more carrying buckets of water from the well!
My parents did not tell us about this changing event until one day it was there, it began
while I was hospitalized.
Somehow, in our family there were ingrained lessons, like,
don’t go to school to brag about what the family has.
It was so much fun, because I had used Mom’s electric Sunbeam mixer,
all by myself and I did not tangle scraper or spoon in the beaters.
For once I was careful….I was on my own. It was only me, Queen of the kitchen!
I got to clean up in a stainless steel sink, with hot water flowing from a tap!
I did not have to carry waste water out to water out door flowers.
Me? I did this whole thing by myself.
NO help or or going for advice.
Without a lick……Lickety split!
I washed the batter bowl,mixer, spoons and wiped the counter.
Then, tiptoed around the kitchen careful about a falling cake.
I did not peek into the oven.
Heavenly aromas______fragrant mix of mom’s pure vanilla,
and tangy sweet rhubarb filled the house and my senses.
I was fairly dizzy with delight.It smelled so goooood.
I allowed myself to finally opened the oven at the correct time,
that cake so golden brown edges were just pulling away and the tooth pick came out clean.
The cake looked and smelled beautifully perfect.
Once carefully put in a cooling place, I went off to do outside chores.
Mom began making swiss steak, fresh small garden potatoes and peas for supper.
After barn chores, milching feeding calves and such.
Dad and Ward came in and washed up with plenty of hot water and soap.
They had spent a day of fencing in south pasture woods with Skippy the dog,
and accompanied by…many, many ticks.
Dad with his pliers and Ward with his teeth……….
At the supper table I could not contain myself to be done eating the main course.
Finally time came,
I got up and cut the cake into perfectly…. big pieces. Yumm,
I continued to resist temptation and placed on plates in front of each person.
I watched dad, when he said how good my cake looked.
He took a bite.
His eyes got big and he swallowed and said, “Umm, Vickie after the supper your mom made,
I can’t eat any more.” (disappointed)
Everyone else took a bite. Not one took a second bite.
My sister began snickering which erupted with uncontrollable giggling.
Confused, I bit into my piece. UGH! S-a-l-t etched into my pride, my poor wounded pride.
Eyes teared, as hopes for perfect were dashed by a whole lotta salt.
The stomach fell to my feet, thoughts,
“How could this have happened, I followed the recipe to a “T” and a “t”?
Without a word, only Ward kept eating, he’d take another bite, and another,
he finished eating one piece.
He said, “Vickie this is good cake, can I please have another?”
At that moment, I soared into a life lesson.
“For as much as we dream, plan, follow directions, and work toward a goal,
sometimes plans just don’t always turn out the way we imagine.”
“Dreams can be struck downward in a split second and disappointment fill the soul……”
A sometimes cruel lesson.
Stop, think,look closer with awareness, and another gift may appear.
As I look back now and think I didn’t get just one GIFT.
I got many GIFTS that day.
My mother, Lottie,did not scold, because I, put 4 teaspoons of salt not the recipes 1/4 teaspoon.
She did not critically say, “You wasted good food”.
She just quietly cleaned the table. Then, showed me the recipe.
She said, my mistake in messy writing. But, there it was; 1/4 in her writing.
My father did not put me down in anger.
He quietly,pushed away his supper plate, politely said, “It looks good Vickie,
I ate too much of your mothers cooking, don’t believe I can eat another bite.”
And little Ward Anthony?
Ward Allen Anthony said my cake looked and smelled good.
He ate not one but two big pieces.
Awareness, a marvelous glimpse knowledge about my father.
I finally, learned what my father Cliff Metcalfe, knew.
Look beyond, the smell, the snuice chewing, never bathing,
the reeking smell permeating the house after he left,
his snapping ticks with his teeth, yodeling,the squeaky fiddle playing, his silly stories and giggles,
and his odd misshapen skull.
All things that often people found they could use to tease him like an object.
That day ,I too ,saw what my dad saw.
One of God’s own.”A good person. A human with a kind and gentle spirit.”
My first lesson in rhubarb?
Life does at times throw experiences which make me sour.
If I’m lucky the experience is a wee bit tangy.
Hope you all found happy midsomer’s dreams……
I do believe soon when this North Dakota June rain lets up.
I will go to my patch, pull and gather juicy, rosy red rhubarb,
fill my house with tangy smells and sweeter wonderful memories.
I do have a hot July thunderstorm story which I intend to through my memories.
invited me to go with to Lake Metigoshe to go fishing with him. I don’t
think we were much more than 4-5th grade. We were out in an old row boat
and Dan had a brand new fishing rod that I believe he got for his
birthday. Anyway, Dan being the generous and good friend that he was,
let me use his new rod and reel. He was explaining to me about casting
and I wasn’t getting it about the button you release, so just as I was
to cast he said “Let Go” You guessed it, I let go of everything and his
brand new rod and reel are still at the bottom of the lake. Every time I
think of, hear Dan’s name or go fishing I think about this and feel
really bad. Dan the next time you are up around Long Lake come over to
my little spot and either throw my rod and reel in the damn lake or take
one of mine and maybe I can get over this guilt that has been eating at
me for well over 40 years
By the way my fishing hasn’t improved much since then
Dwight Lang mentioned in one of his emails how my dad, Don Johnson,
always looked overdressed for Dunseith. I can remember when we were at
the farm, dirty from working, if Dad had to go somewhere for parts,
etc., he would clean up and change clothes before he went. He didn’t
want any one to see him dirty! I have one picture of us, when we were
all in the field, when Dad was black from field work! He was that way
every day but no one ever saw him like that! He made sure of that! We
farmed quite a bit of land, our own and rented, and he did a lot of
field work and repair so he was plenty dirty real often! The picture
below was the way you will remember him but when I find the one of us
covered with dirt and grease I’ll send it!
The other photo is of Ramona Dionne [ Mona Johnson ] when she was a
sophomore at DHS in 1946. Although we aren’t related, my folks spent
time with Mona and Chuck doing things at the lake, etc. This is Mom’s
picture of Mona so they must have been together then too. Thanks Gary!!