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Sunday, February 27, 2022

SOS Uncle Jesse

 By Anna Von Reitz

My Uncle Jesse was a Merchant Mariner before, during, and after World War II.  He was a labor union organizer and troublemaker from Day One of what he called "His Irish Life as Himself".  
He was a brawler and a cut up and a jokester and he somehow got away with it all, because he wasn't afraid to take responsibility and wasn't a liar.  

It was him who got drunk and gave all us kids, including me, Mohawk Haircuts for the summer of 1960, along with pairs of high-top red Keds tennis shoes.   And that was the least of his exploits. Some people still remember seeing "our tribe" jostling each other on the sidewalk outside The Falls Movie Theater.  

It was quite a sight, all right.  

Those of you who have been with me a while know that I love our servicemen and women no matter how critical I am of the Top Brass leadership, and because of Uncle Jesse, I have a profound appreciation for Merchant Mariners, too.  

During WWII their ships were the known targets and they couldn't carry weapons.  

"If you didn't have the nerve to begin with," Jesse said, "you developed it or washed out."  

And not just "nerve" --- ultimate courage, too.  

They were totally dependent on military convoy support, and all too often that support wasn't there or was so thin a butter knife could cut through it.  

This made being a Merchant Mariner one of the most dangerous jobs in the world throughout the entire war, and yet, the supplies from America had to reach England and had to reach other destinations to resupply ground, air, and naval forces posted around the world. 

It's not overstating it to say, as Churchill once did, that the war was won in equal parts by the military and the merchant mariners. 

Just as the Army has a lasting love affair with "Shit on a Shingle" --- Hamburger in Milk Gravy as more politically correct generations have called it, the Merchant Mariners have Sausage Gravy on Biscuits, a dish that has found its way out of the vernacular kitchen and onto restaurant menus. 

The Merchant Mariners-- including some converts from the Navy, claim to make the Best Sausage Gravy in the world, and having eaten my share of Uncle Jesse's version, I won't disagree. 

Recently, some of my friends who are World War II vets in their upper nineties and many over a hundred, have suggested that we remember our war time recipes and our Victory Gardens, because even if there isn't war, there is a very real supply chain threat that may leave us more dependent on local resources and community know-how.  And I agree. 

As part of our efforts to organize our American Assembly Militias and prepare our people for natural and manmade disasters, I invite you all to dig deep and share your favorite low-budget recipes, those plain, rib-sticking recipes that people used to know and use in the days before Door Dash.

Look for those recipes  that use simple ingredients with an eye for those that are most readily available and which are most easily stored --- and which your family likes.  Then send them on to me at to be included and published in our American Militia Hardtimes Cookbook. 

It's time for our lawful Assembly Militias to step out of the closet and shake off the propaganda of the Mainstream Media, and though we don't always think of it, to remember the crucial role of "Support Staff" --- the Merchant Mariners and Ladies Auxiliaries.  

Although most people who have never faced real hard times may not know and may not think about it, women have a crucial role to play in our militias, even if it is relatively unsung.  

When the patches need to be sewn on and the uniforms mended, when the ammo needs to be reloaded, when the flag needs to be constructed out of patchwork, when the post office needs to stay open, when water needs to be boiled, when bandages need to be rolled, when we have to find something to feed the families ---- guess who stands in the gap? 

Our American Assembly Militias aren't just for men. Community defense and disaster preparedness is for everyone above the age of 16, and we all have things we can do and skills we can contribute.  

Ladies, Gents, let's begin by compiling the ultimate hard times cookbook, one born out of four centuries of living on the frontier and fighting in every war and all the know-how we've gained here at home and around the world.  

Use the Subject Line "Recipes" and send to or write to me at: Anna Maria Riezinger, In care of: Box 520994, Big Lake, Alaska 99652 and send your favorite easy, low cost recipes to share with all the other American Assembly Militias.  


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  1. SOS, I know that intimately and there are at least 3 different meats to use: hamburger, chipped beef or sausage. I'm 84 years old and learned from my mother how to make it taste good by adding onion and garlic powder with butter to the milk before the corn starch to thicken it and lots of black pepper!! My husband was in the US Army and thrived on this concoction over toast every morning that I had time to fix it for him. Naturally, real butter was nearly impossible to get during the "war" but if you were lucky you lived in the country near a dairy and was one of the farmer's friends. Grandma churned cream and made our butter. Oh, was that ever good! That stuff we get now is nothing like the REAL THING. We always had a garden while growing up and Mom would can our harvest (before freezers were invented) and we raised chickens for eggs and meat. That made us popular too. Non and Gram made sure we knew how to sew, knit, crochet and make clothes or Rag Rugs. We saved everything! rubber bands, aluminum foil from gum wrappers, tin cans, glass bottles, old tires, pots and pans. Recycling before it was popular. We had to fix anything that was broken and repairable. What a concept! My niece and sister are putting up a greenhouse now. My daughter has chickens so we never run out of eggs. A neighbor raises beef cattle and another raises hogs. Steak and pork cops nearby.

    I miss the Good Old Days even though it was hard work all the time. Bring them back please

    1. No need to beg for these times to come, they are in full speed on the way.
      Hard times for everyone but especially for those who didn’t learn to fix things rather than to buy new which option will many times not anymore available.

  2. WOW, i will be 69 in 2022, and we had those meals all of the time, meals of the poor, grilled cheese sandwich, matzafry i think it was called, tv dinners-right out of the freezer, salami and eggs, there were tons if them meals of the poor, and leftovers!!!! we never thru out anything, and leftovers was often the meal of the day! not kidding about that. and when kids were bad back then, often enough, we went to bed without dinner! Now i know why. AND repair was often, get new, oh ya!!! and get new clothes, only for those that came first, everyone else in the family got, hand me downs!!! who here even remembers HAND ME DOWNS, new clothes, oh ya keep dreaming, and would wear till they wore out, then wear them some more!!!

  3. I am so thankful I was raised around grandparents who were born in the late 1890's and 1900 because my youngest years were spent living like they did. They made being frugal seem like normal and I learned skills that I will need to teach my youngins in the family to survive. Most of them have never had to want for anything so what's coming is going to be a real shock to them. They've always made fun of me for my old-fashioned ways but I'm about to be really important to them...what a shock.