Growing Up Alaska: The Battle of the Bulge

When we first moved to Central, the road to Fairbanks was only opened during the summer, so people bought up stores of food and lived off what they hunted. One of the many foods that we could buy in bulk was beans, especially Pork ‘N Beans.

We were taught to be grateful for what we had, and a part of showing our gratefulness was eating all the food that was prepared for us, whether we liked it or not. We all had foods that were abhorrent to us. For me it was oatmeal because it was goopy and seemed to grow. For my oldest brother Shane, it was the beans and cornbread we had at least twice a week. And for Clint, it was Pork ‘N Beans and peas.

We sat at the table until our food with threats of saving it for the next meal. Clint usually sat the longest pushing beans around his plate as if they would seem to disappear. They never did, or so we thought.

It was about halfway through the winter when Clint started finishing dinner more quickly. It still took him a while after everyone else was done at the table, but my mother was sure that he was coming to appreciate what he had more.

Part of the agreement for renting out the cabin was that dad was going to do some upkeep on it. So as it started to warm up, we noticed a swelling in one of the wall panels. Worried that there was a leak in the roof that was running down the wall, dad decided to investigate.

He checked outside and shoveled off the roof, but nothing. The bulge continued to grow and it was clear that it was swelling from moisture. The only issue with getting to it was that the table had been nailed to the wall and we would have to remove the table in order to open up the wall.

My parents conjectured on what the problem might be. A family of mice or squirrels. A leak somewhere else that dad couldn’t find. And as it got warmer and began to smell, they were sure some kind of animal dead in the wall.

So dad finally opened the wall and we all gagged. Out poured moldy peas and Pork ‘n Beans. Clint had found a small hole in the wooden paneling where the table met the wall. When everyone was distracted, he would shovel his unwanted food into the hole and miraculously be done with dinner, his food having disappeared.

Mom was irate and dad was non to pleased to not only have to replace the paneling, but the insulation and the outside wall as well that had also absorbed the decaying food. If Clint hadn’t already been grounded until he was 60, he certainly was by the end of this.

Author: matthewlasley

I am a school teacher and an author. I like to write picture books, middle grade, science fiction and short stories. I live in Alaska and I love history, so those two things often influence my creative writing.

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