Reminiscence of hiring a camp cook
August 6, 2020
Editor's Note: This story was reprinted with permission from the Upper Swan Valley Historical Society and the Forder family
Swan Valley - I had brought the pack string out of the Little Salmon just before the start of hunting season in about 1971 or so and had stopped at what was called at that time the Swan River Tavern or Liquid Louie’s for a cold beer and a couple bottles of Packer Gas and Cowboy Pop. Mame Haasch was tending bar and asked me if I had a cook hired for the hunting camp. I said “no.”
She informed me that Blanche Huston was looking for a job and if I was interested I’d better get down there cause she would probably take the first offer. Also that Blanche was baking cookies that day and would be a prime time for an interview. She called Blanche to let her know I’d be coming. I finished my beer and drove to their place.
When I got there, there was an old John Deere tractor and mower parked partly in the driveway and a whole herd of geese, which did not want to move. I thought I’d park the pickup and walk on into the house. That was my first mistake as I was promptly attacked by a couple of the geese. I had not taken my spurs off and when I tried to gently discourage their pecking attentions it infuriated the whole damn congress of them and I decided I’d best make a run for the house.
The driveway was generously lubricated with piles of goose doings which made progress hazardous and slower than I’d planned. As I approached the house I figured I’d make a big ass broad jump to the porch and once on it I’d have the problem licked. But I’d been slicked, for Blanche had been out and had just mopped the goose doings up with spic and span or such and water.
When my boot heels hit the deck my feet went in the air and I torpedoed across the porch and slammed into the wall full of fish nets, poles, snowshoes, bindings, etc. My approach landed me flat on my back with my feet straight up in the air. I was somewhat bewildered, as always before when I’d had a wreck my feet had always come back to earth.
My spurs were hung up in the fishnets. I was unable to get my feet down and get up and defend my person from the congress of geese attacking me from all sides.
Blanche came to the door to see what all the ruckus was about and immediately determined the appropriate response was to grab the mop out of the bucket of mop water just used and begin to whale away. She spared no quarter on villain goose, possible boss or body parts whether private, personal or otherwise. She was only a mop handle away but it seemed her aim was off at times and she was siding with the ******/////// geese. But she did persuade them to leave and got my spurs untangled out of the fishnets and we went inside to discuss the job. The distraction on the porch resulted in some cookies getting somewhat singed and extra chewy which she apologized for and was telling me that she really could cook, etc.
I was trying to figure out a way to compliment her on her cooking but the way the cookies come out that was a tall order. In the typical knee jerk, panicked reaction of a rider pulling leather just prior to a wreck I blurted out that her coffee was great. She said, “I guess I probably won’t get the job as we were walking to the porch.” Looking out, I could see that half of the congress had surrounded the pickup desiring a piece of my dog and the other half was waiting for me to step off the porch.
I immediately made an executive decision to hire Blanche on two conditions. The two conditions being :
1. She get me to my truck unscathed.
2) That I’d either leave her pay with Mame or she could come get it for I wasn’t going to deliver it to her place.
She must have wanted that job terrible bad because with much improved aim using a garden hoe she escorted me to the truck. She was a great cook and I never regretted hiring her.