Morning for Sokroshera Chapter Nineteen

By Timothy Smith, 2020

Morning for Sokroshera Chapter 19

Tim’s novel of Russian America (Kodiak Island area)

Click the Logo Above To Return to the Chapters Page

To Find Out More About, Click HERE

To Visit My “About Me” Page, Click HERE

To Return to Tanignak “Home,” Click the Logo Below:

Sunday, April 5, 1964: The Village in exile up in the old fort on Sokroshera Island, Alaska. The village has just received an army field kitchen and C-rations, their first outside emergency assistance. (Plot spoilers removed where possible)

On Sunday, two days after the big aftershock (edit) the whole town felt almost in a party mood, sensing their luck beginning to change. That is, until breakfast. As they staggered over to the picnic tables, Betty was in near constant apologetic mode. “These are some of the C-rations we got, folks. They’re guaranteed to keep body and soul together, but that’s about it. Please eat up, because it’s all we’re serving this morning.” Into the bowls they’d scrounged from the village below was poured a steaming mess of what the can lid called “Lima Beans with Ham and Applesauce.” It was worse than its title implied, even though Betty had added some water and spices to try to help it out. Not too far different in color from the cow pies that frequently graced the roads, the slop seemed to have picked up none of the good qualities of any of its ingredients.

Herman took one look at his bowl and said, in mock sincerity, “Shall I eat this, or have I already?” They all struggled to force it down. Danny joined the group at the table a little later than the rest of them, so Sandy Ann decided to tease him a bit. “Uncle Danny, this is Gail’s new recipe. She says one bite and you’ll have to marry her.” Then they all waited for his first taste.

Danny just took a spoonful and said, “I wouldn’t eat this unless I was starving on some hillside after a major disaster! So, can I have some more?” That got as big a laugh as anyone could muster first thing in the morning. Danny apparently would eat anything, and soon cleaned his bowl. As he scraped it and licked the spoon, he looked at Judson and winked. But Judson, whose least-favorite edible commodity on the planet was lima beans, borrowed something he’d heard Mr. Faltrip say about his Army days and declared, “How can we eat ‘S.O.S.’ if we don’t even have a shingle?”

Laura, sitting beside Barbara across from him, began to giggle. But Mr. Hansen looked at his son, shook his head, and sharply stopped that line of talk. He launched into a little speech about how, of course, everyone was trying their best here, and some things might be harder to take than others. So like a teacher, Judson thought, and almost rolled his eyes. But in the end, he just stared at the gelatinous dark gray-green mass in his bowl, kept any further thoughts to himself, and tried another bite. Laura defended Judson, sort of. “Do you notice how he gets right to the edge of saying bad words and then backs off? That’s real talent, Jeffrey!” Laura continued to giggle as she watched Betty sit down to eat her own helping of the now famous “Lima Beans with Ham and Applesauce.” The rest of the breakfast crowd held their breath.

Mrs. Lindseth took a large mouthful, and seemed to take a good long time to swallow it. All eyes were focused on her, and no one spoke for the duration. She finally looked up after concentrating hard on her task. All she said was something about “C-ration-induced morning sickness,” and the fact that they needed real supplies, and real soon. She was certainly right about that! And then she apologized again. Teasing season was over, because Judson noticed several people giving Betty hugs as they left. He gave her a hug too. She and her helpers had been extraordinarily creative in staving off hunger in the worst of circumstances.

…A few minutes after breakfast cleanup, in which Judson and Herman discovered that even the dogs were reluctant to eat what was left in the bowls, up ran Eagle and Jake, very excited. Jake appeared to be hiding something behind his back, under his coat, which made him look very odd as he ran. “Look, Mr. Hansen, look what Jake found!” “Yeah, I was over by the lake and I found this under a piece of the cannery roof. It still works!” With that, Jake pulled the object from under his coat. The sharp clear notes reintroduced the school bell, its handle now scuffed, and the brass a bit muddy around the edges, but fully functional.

“You know this means we have to start school now, don’t you?” said Mr. Hansen, a twinkle in his eye. Eagle turned toward Jake, saying, “Why did you have to...” and was about to slug him, when Anya, emerging from the kitchen tent, said, “Son, you didn’t think you were on summer vacation yet, did you?” Mr. Hansen took this opportunity to make a general announcement. “As you know, we now have a place that could serve as a temporary school.” He dramatically cleared his throat and adopted his most authoritarian teacher voice, “On Monday...we will begin regular classes at the Sokroshera Cove Mess Hall Number Two, Hillside Campus!” This news was not greeted with thunderous applause. Nonetheless, Judson felt glad; some kind of routine would be good for all of them.  



Download Chapter Nineteen in .PDF Format