Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I was a cook.......

at the 1260 Inn on the Al-can Hwy. way back in 1984-85. The Al-can Hwy. was (is?) the one road to get from the lower 48 to Alaska.
The 'then' owner hired me over the phone. She asked me, "do you make pies?"  "Yes" i answered, "but i won't bake on the job. I'm not making pies." Her comeback was, "well you have to make pies!"
  "Nope. Not gonna make pies. Find somebody else."
"Wait. wait. okay. you don't have to make pies. I'll make the pies. You're hired."

Just like that. I was a cook. At an Inn. During the busy season. Oh boy.  Not only was it the busy season, but there was also road repair and construction going on, and since places to eat and sleep were far and few between, we got a lot of business.

We opened the dining room doors at 5 a.m, and closed at 9 p.m. Long days.
Some days i was cook/dishwasher/cashier/waitress, all at once. Some days i was just the cook.
When i first started she put me on as the dinner cook, which meant i started work at noon, doing a little of this and that, getting my kitchen ready for the dinner rush. That included coming up with a nightly special. A different special every other night. I stuck pretty close to the norm for the first week, but then got bored with the same words on the sign, over and over again. So i got goofy. Fridays i put 'Fried Chicken Lips' on the board. Wednesday it was 'Tuna Casserole with crushed Snail Shell topping', and Sunday was 'Grab it before it gets away snake bites'.  Oh, i had fun. So did my customer's. I was a hit. I joked and talked with people, took special orders. Mrs. owner wouldn't do anything special for anyone. She was not pleasant.

After a few weeks she changed me over to the breakfast shift, which i actually liked a lot more. I made the biggest, softest, fluffiest pancakes in the state. When you ordered a stack from me, you got a 'stack'. Mrs. owner didn't like that, she wanted to go as cheap as possible, like pancakes the thickness of a quarter, sandwiches so empty they were scary. Me, i liked pleasing my customers, making them smile. 
I think she must have fired me a half dozen times, but it only lasted a few minutes. There were no more cooks within miles, and it would take weeks to get another one. Which, being the brat i am, i took advantage of. I didn't do anything wrong, i just wouldn't cheat or short people. 

Every once in a while she would get after me about the pies. Threatening me. Oh was i scared. Ha.  Usually the threats came when there was a tour bus on its way. They always stopped for coffee and pie. She had to make the pies. She hated me then. I didn't much like her anytime, so it didn't bother me a bit. 

This photo below was taken one night about midnight, the night before my day off. I had just picked up a 6 pak of Coors, the bartender, 'Capt. Quirk', was calling out to me...."Linda sweetheart, you can flip my cakes any ole' day!" 

I was so alive that year. I was sizzling with it. I was full of piss and vinegar and loving it all. 
Even though this photo is such a terrible shot, hard to see any detail, when i look at it i can see the sparks flying off of me, and the stars dancing around my head. I can hear my laughter and feel how my body glowed and moved so smoothly and easy. 
It was a good time.


  1. Oh Linda - I love that story!!! And now I want pie - totally un-explainable. I like how HAPPY and full-of-life you look in your photo!!!

    Thank You for taking me down memory lane with you - I had a GOOD time!!!

    ;-) Now I want pancakes too... dang...

  2. What a wonderful story, beautifully told. :)

  3. Hi,
    I am RNC's Mother...she sent me over here and I have so enjoyed reading your stories!! I was in Alaska a number of years ago, and we went to an outdoor restaurant near Fairbanks, where they cooked salmon steaks over a big long open fire pit. They were wonderful, and I have tried and tried to find a recipe to approximate what they tasted like.........oh well, they will still be tasty in my memory!!
    Thank you so much for posting...have a good evening.

  4. PS: I have crystals in most of my youngest son used to see the rainbows and come yelling "Yites, Mommy, look at the yites!!"
    Thanks for another memory!

  5. Hallo Linda,

    can understand you quite well, the photo tells a lot more than your words.


  6. I can see the sparks, too, flying off of you and the stars dancing around your head. I can see and hear you laughing. And...I think it's a great picture. Thank you for this story.

  7. love your story. i think it says alot of you for not wanting to do something that you told up front you wouldn't.