Into everyone’s life comes a person who is a pleasant memory and a little bit of mystery. Mr. Ed was that kind of person. Bob and I met him about 18 years ago through our friends Dan and Cathy Fenton. He worked with Dan and they shared a place for a while until Dan and Cathy were settled in Nikiski. We probably met at one of the impromptu get together we don’t seem to have anymore.
Mr. Ed and Bob had a special bond as they shared the same birthdate, except Mr. Ed was born in 1940 and Bob was born in 1941. He ALWAYS called wished Bob a Happy Birthday.
Mr. Ed always had a great smile with his few teeth showing. He told me he pulled the ones that bothered him with a pair of pliers.
He was full of advice about gardening and on the wild berries in the area. He had knowledge of about everything we talked about. Disagreeing with him was not an option. He just talked until you either gave up or agreed with him. All this was done with smiles and jokes. He went on a totally healthy diet and bought a juicer. He was convinced everyone should do it!
He loved to fish with Dan. Looked forward to it. They spent many hours at their favorite watering hole on the Kenai River. He would tell someone it was a secret where they fished, then went on to tell you where it was. Swift Water he would say — the best fishing hole in the world! He ate what he could and generously shared the rest. We were the recipient of his generosity for many years.
Next to his love of fishing was picking berries. Just about every week in the summer and fall, I would get a call to come and get berries, or when he was still driving he would come out and visit and bring me big 5-gallon sacks of berries.
The most important berry he loved to pick was blueberries. He said he had a secret place to pick them and then would go ahead and tell me where they were. He drove many miles to pick them. He provided jars and lids and the berries and I provided the sugar and the end result of jelly and jams. He got half and I got to share the other half with everyone I knew. We loved his blueberry jelly.
The raspberries, when they were in abundance, were his next favorite to pick. I would get out the jelly kettle again and make raspberries jam and jelly. When I was fed up to my ears with making jelly I would freeze the rest of the berries until Christmas and I would make up a batch of each and my family would receive some of Mr. Ed’s jelly and jams for Christmas.
Mr. Ed worked hard all his life. We know he was a logger. He was a pilot and owned a plane. Once he and a friend were hunting for polar bear (when it was legal) in his airplane when he nosedived into a snow bank. He and his partner fixed what was banged up and flew it out of there. He also held a CDL for a long time also.
We do not know much about his younger life or his family at all. I do know that when someone would talk about a place in Alaska or the United States Mr. Ed had been there and proceeded to tell you in great things about it. He loved to talk and he loved to tell jokes and tell you about fishing and berry picking. He, at one time, had great big gardens and would proceed to tell you in greatest of detail how to plant and care for vegetables in Alaska.
He liked to tell you his opinion about politics, doctors and cops, drug dealers, and youngsters that do not like to work, and the president — whomever he was at the time. We mostly just listened because our opinion did not count much either.
In the past three years his health declined. He sold his pickup and was on oxygen this winter. He called either Bob or I every couple days and jabber a little. We would call if we had not heard from him.
He had been in the hospital and his health was “seriously not good and I do not think I am going to survive this one.” (His words).
I called him and wished him Happy Thanksgiving. He called the middle of December and said he was not doing well and started coughing. Said he had to hang up. I said my usual “Love ya!” and hung up. That was my last conversation with Mr, Ed. I called — no answer — I called all the hospice places and some of the retirement homes. I called the hospital. Because I was not a relative I got no answers. Finally Susan and I went to the police department and asked for a wellness check. They took all our information and in about 10 minutes they called back and said the were sad to inform us that he had passed away about six weeks ago.
All his friends are sad of course. But one thing we know for sure, he is up in heaven with Dan fishing on the banks of a great river with lots of fish. He also is telling everyone around him “how it was in his day!”
We will always miss Mr. Ed — who by the way had a very unique name Royal Cantrell, as unique as he was.
MOOSE OR HAMBURGER STROGANOFF
I have lost track of how many times I have made this. It is a great big family dinner or potluck supper.
1 pound of ground moose burger or 1 pound of lean hamburger
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms or, in my case, living in Alaska, 1 large can mushrooms — drained
1 medium chopped onion
1 stalk chopped celery
3 tablespoons flour
½ can beef broth
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon prepared mustard
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper
½ cup sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 teaspoon parsley
8 ounces of cooked pasta noodles or screwdoodles or mashed potatoes. We ate it on smashed potatoes — as we always had an abundance of Alaska-grown taters.
Cook moose or beef until done. Add mushrooms, onions and celery. Cook until crisp tender. Drain in colander and return to pan. Stir in flour, salt, mustard, pepper and 1 cup water. 1 can cream of mushroom soup. Cover and cook until thick about 2 minutes.
Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.
Serve over noodles or potatoes.
Serve with green beans or corn, sourdough muffins with a big dollop of butter.
ANNIE B’S LEMON CHICKEN SALAD
Simple and very good for a ladies luncheon.
3 cups cooked chicken chunks, mostly white meat
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts — do not drain
1 small onion cut in very thin slices
½ cup lemon juice
1 small lemon cut in very thin slices
¼ teaspoon parsley chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup celery
¼ cup green or red pepper (optional)
The artichoke juice and lemon juice make the dressing, however, you can put in ½ cup mayonnaise if you like.
Mix and chill at least 4 hours. Serve on lettuce, toasted sesame seeds on top and garnish with red or green grapes.
VIVA LA CHICKEN
My Aunt Gay gave this recipe to me at a picnic when I was visited from Alaska at Mom’s house in Colorado, August of 1988. It’s yummy!
4 chicken breasts — cooked or steam until done
1 package Doritos tortilla chips
1 can each of cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
¼ cup chopped onions
1 or 2 cans diced green chilies
1 pound cheddar cheese — grated
Bone chicken and cut in bite-sized pieces. Combine the soups and milk, onion and chilies.
Grease a large 9 x 13 baking dish.
Put 1/2 tortilla chips crushed on bottom.
Cover with ½ chicken and ½ sauce. Repeat starting with the tortilla chips.
Top with cheese.
Bake 1 ½ hours at 300 F (yes)
This can be made the day before, refrigerated and baked when needed.
• By Ann “Grannie Annie” Berg, for the Peninsula Clarion