By Bob Spiwak
Sunday morning (Nov. 23) — snowing, pretty vigorously. We got a little over 7 inches yesterday before the sun came out, albeit briefly. It was the annual rite of plowing and blowing. The idea is to stay ahead of it. Harts Pass, where plows rarely venture, had 25 inches last night, up a foot from a week ago. Reports were that Washington Pass was open and “not bad, except for some slippery places” yesterday, according to a recent arrival. Now we’ll see if it will remain open for Thanksgiving, or the end of the weekend. If so, that may be the end of Washington Pass travel until next spring.
Ms. Gloria and I were discussing the holiday as the snow fell, and she recalled a side-dish potluck at the Mazama Community Club about 30 years ago. It was a different place then, heated by a huge wood-burning stove surrounded by a heavy 4-foot screen that looked strong enough to contain a buffalo. I don’t think anyone ever got burned, and it was a fine place to dry coats and boots.
On that Thanksgiving, the side dishes people brought were to augment a pair of turkeys being cooked by Gloria and Vera Tawlkes. At past potlucks, a crowd of 25 people was a good showing. Vera was extremely conscientious that along with the turkeys, she and Gloria had to be certain to bring mashed potatoes and of course, cranberry sauce. Things were looking fine in the culinary department. A community celebration, snow falling. Norman Rockwell, where art thou?
Of course, as with almost any large occasion, something will come up that can be laughed about in the future, but has possibly serious side effects at the time. In this instance, the power went out in the upper valley that day. Throughout the area, if not the entire valley, those cooking on an electric stove or oven were instantly stuck with a half-baked bird, its condition determined by flashlight or candles. Many had company and family as befits the holiday. What could they do to salvage it?
They came to the Mazama potluck, that’s what. It’s hard to remember the numbers, but there was a large crowd that intermittently arrived at the primitive environs of the community hall. Several had their more-than half-baked turkeys with them. The preparations for the two dozen or so expected were woefully short at the outset, but before long there was enough food for a presidential state dinner. Everyone was on a high.
Little kids were running around between and under the overcrowded tables, their yelling and laughing punctuated by parental admonitions not to go near the stove. Somebody got on the out-of-tune piano and a chorus of voices, some more out of tune than the piano, conjoined in a songfest.
We had a lot of potlucks in those days, but even the little bit I can recall marks that Thanksgiving event as the best one ever.