Best Meal of My Life … SB Jerry

Best of the ‘Gest

from SB Jerry, August, 2021

by SB Jerry (Quaker SBs)

Ted Trueblood: Reflections on a Western Legend
Ted Trueblood

A best meal starts with good food, and if you grew it, caught it, or raised it that makes it a little better.  Next, you need a cook that knows how to prepare those ingredients.  Finally, you need a setting, company, or ambiance that accentuates every aspect of the meal. 

It helps to be hungry. 

The company at the table can make a huge difference. Remember the party you weren’t sure you were going to go to, but had a fabulous time at because you met the neatest people?  That is the basic backdrop to the best meal of my life. 

I turned 17 at the end of my junior year in high school. The very next day my older brother, who was 18 1/2, and I left on a 10 week fishing/camping trip that would take us from Providence, RI to the Pacific and back.  The trip was planned around dozens of stories from Outdoor Life and Field & Stream, many written by Ted Trueblood, our trout fishing idol.  We had a little green pup tent with no floor so when it was set up there was a 6″ gap on either side that let in anything that wanted to enter.  We had a Coleman stove and lantern and a cast iron skillet. We each had about $400 at a time when gas cost 30 cents a gallon. 

U.S. Military Pup Tent, Complete | STARS-N-STRIPES CO.

We camped by whatever stream we were fishing, ate meals on the tailgate of the station wagon or sitting on rocks or logs. We had a ball.  Every day we had PB&J sandwiches for lunch, and dinner was trout with a can of corn/green bean/peas and a few pieces of bread.  We spent 2 weeks in Jackson Hole before it was famous, saw the Badlands,Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and the giant redwoods. 

When we got to Oregon, I was determined to go salmon fishing. Early one morning we went to a bait/tackle shop and asked to rent a boat.  The shop owner used his shortwave radio to put out a call, saying 2 young guys would pay for bait and gas to anyone would take us out.  A man answered to say he was on his way in anyway, and we should get ready.  We fished for a few hours, and I caught a nice 15 pound King salmon and a smaller Sillver, and my brother caught 2 Silvers.  We took the Silvers to a cannery next to the dock and had them smoked and canned and sent to our mother COD.

Because this area was more civilized, we were staying in a commercial campground. We brought our King there and asked an older couple who had a large motor home, if they knew how to cook salmon, something our culinary experience hadn’t encountered.  They took a look at the fish and said if they could share it, they would cook an entire dinner.  Sounded pretty good to us. 

That evening they called us over to a foldable picnic table they had set up – wow, sitting at a table!  They served us huge portions of salmon steaks, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, tossed salad, and hot rolls.  For dessert the  woman had made a lemon meringue pie!  They were really fun people who were camping a few thousand miles from home. We exchanged stories for 2 or 3 hours.  (I think they probably got an extra meal of two from the salmon, but that was OK.) 

What a meal! It had all the elements mentioned, plus a few unexpected extras! My brother and I (both Silverbacks) still recall that meal fondly. The next morning we left to go back to Jackson Hole, where one day I caught 8 foot-long rainbow trout on 8 consecutive casts … but that’s another story!

3 thoughts on “Best Meal of My Life … SB Jerry

  1. I am Jerry Chase’s brother, and can attest (to the best of my ability to remember things 56 years ago) that the above account is true, with this exception: I recall that Jerry’s salmon, larger than mine, were 25 and 20 pounds, respectively, not just the 15 pounds he mentions. Seeing those fish jump several feet clear out of the water trying to throw the hook was an unforgettable thrill. I can’t imagine too many parents these days who would give their kids a car and send them off across the country for two months, but it was the best summer of our lives.

    1. A great experience relived and shared. You’re right about giving kids the keys to the station wagon and sending them off with $400. Hard to imagine that happening today. It was a different world then.

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