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Tamales and Skippy

Story ID:6939
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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Another story from my early life in a small Oregon town.

Tamales and Skippy
By Chuck Dishno
Copyright 2005

In the spring of 1949 my Dad, Ed Dishno, left our home in Bly, Oregon to fall timber for Ivory Pine Lumber Company located in Dinuba, California.

Ivory Pine had left the Bly area and moved their operation the year before. My Mom and I decided to stay in Bly that first year while Pop checked out the area and possibly find a place to rent for the next summer.

This arrangement worked out well for the first season but Pop wanted us down there with him.

Next spring (1951) Mom & Pop drove down to California where they rented a small cabin in Kings Canyon National Park.

As soon as school was out my Grandmother, Etta, and I along with my dog, Wags, took the train to Fresno where we were met by my parents.

We had a good summer and hated to see it end when Etta, Wags and I returned to Bly by train.

Mom came back home shortly after and when the logging season ended in November, Pop returned home too.

The next year we planned to repeat the same schedule but I had gotten a job in Bly running the projectors in the Arch Theatre and Etta had gone to live with her son George in Pendleton, Oregon. She planned to return in the fall when we were all back.

I told Mom & Pop that I wanted to stay in Bly and I would be OK by myself for the summer and would even survive my own cooking.

It took a lot of convincing but they finally agreed to let Wags and me batch it for a few months. They had set up a charge account at the Bly grocery store to make sure I wouldn’t starve.

I wasn’t much of a cook and after a few meals of burned mashed potatoes, and cremated steak or pork chops, I tried a can of Franco American Tamales. These were great and all I had to do was open the can, dump the 6 or 7 paper wrapped tamales in a fry pan and brown them. I would then dump them on a plate, peel off the paper wrapper and enjoy my “home cooked” meal.

Wags didn’t care for those tamales so I would buy a can of Skippy dog food, open both ends and push it out into his bowl. He never seemed to tired of this, but I think he might have been bumming a free meal somewhere in town since he didn’t always finish his food. I, on the other hand, loved those tamales and left only the pile of wrappers.

I was also working and getting $2.00 a night running those projectors.

I didn’t need much to live on and always had pocket money to buy the essentials such as cherry phosphates and Cherry-A-Let candy bars at Tikkanen’s Variety Store. I also had a Cushman Motor Scooter that needed gas.

All went well until Mom decided to return home in the fall to get me ready for school.

As soon as I heard that she was on her way, I instinctively knew that I had to do something about cleaning up the house.

After almost 4 months of batching, this was a bigger job than I thought. Everywhere I look there was an empty tamale or dog food can. We had a gunnysack hanging on the back porch and it was full too.

Since my only means of transportation was my motor scooter I started making trips to the Bly dump to get rid of the evidence.

Wags loved this as he would sit on the floorboard and look out around the steering column. He would usually find something dead or stinky to roll in at the dump so the ride back wasn’t too pleasant.

I would be take a load to the dump, return home, scrub the dog, load up another sack of cans and return to the dump, load the dog, return home, scrub the dog and start all over again.

When I finally got the house cleaned up to “my satisfaction” I sat back and waited for Mom’s return.

A few days later, Mom came in on the Red Ball Stage that made a daily trip from Klamath Falls to Lakeview by way of Bly.

As soon as Mom walked into the house she let out a little yell and asked what had happened. I thought I had it cleaned up pretty well but apparently it wasn’t to Mom’s specifications.

Mom soon forgave me and asked what I wanted most for dinner. I said, “Anything as long as it doesn’t have a paper wrapper around it and come out of a can.” I think she fixed me some mashed potato patties and a pork chop.

Wags, of course had his usual Skippy dog food. He wasn’t particular but as for me it was good to have Mom home and I never wanted to see another tamale in my life.