Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Luella's Great Memorial Day Potato Salad. A Simple Story

Luella Adding the Secret Ingredient - 
A Grandmother's Love

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

The Queen Mother was up before the Sun contemplating her contribution to the Williamson Memorial Day Gathering at my sister's home in Highland this afternoon.  She mentally nodded her way through every step in the creation of her culinary masterpiece, the one dish we all line up for at all important family gatherings. At the "Amen's" sound, elbows start flying and 'not very nice' words are spoken as we all jostle, push and shove our way to the front of the line just to get a few precious spoonfuls of the one and only food the Greek Gods have added to their Olympian menu in the last 3000 years.
Yes, I'm talking about Luella's "Une grande salade de pommes de terre, le cornichon et oignon, assaisonné d'un amour de la mère".

My important contribution to this endeavor started at 7:00 A.M.  I drove to Timp Cave in American Fork Canyon and hiked up the mountain to the cave opening just so I could be mentally and physically prepared for the official 'tasting' which I knew I would be called upon to do later in the day.  After hiking the cave trail, I drove to WalMart to purchase a few other things for the picnic.  I knew Luella would be too focused on the cooking to remember that each family had to bring their own meat for barbecuing.  I wanted to spare her from the tasks any simpleton could do.  My help with the simple tasks would free her to focus all her physical and mental energies on the skilled cookmanship necessary to create a salad so tasty and pure, word has it that it has been added to the short list of recipes scheduled to be included in the National Register of Historic Dishes.

On the way home my cell phone rang.  
"Victor, where are you?" she questioned.  In her voice I could hear sweat dripping down her wrinkled face and pooling into the seasoned potatoes below.  
"On my way home," I replied.
"What do you need?"
"Oh, I forgot to get a graduation card for Abrea."

I wanted to say "tough luck, I'm not going back," but my conscious got the best of me.  I remembered that my job for the day was to do the simple tasks.  Allowing her to get distracted, even for the slightest of moments, could cause a disaster of nuclear proportions in the mixing and blending of ingredients.

"Don't you worry and hang up right now. I'm all over this!" I said in my teacher's voice.  I closed my flip phone, put on the Battlestar's emergency flashers, sounded my horn and executed a perfect U turn on State Street.  It was a sight to behold.  

Abrea's card was purchased.  All was well.  

The Salad being transferred to a smaller bowl.  Later to be picked up by a Wells Fargo Armored Van and Taken to the Family Gathering

The Grand Lady Herself at the Completion of her Day's Work

Early this afternoon my home phone rang.  Luella was well into the fourth hour of cooking.  I knew I was about to be called upon to perform my one duty - the official tasting of eternal bliss.  I stood up to take the call.  
"Yes," my voice carried the importance of my mission.
"Its ready," she said in a voice as serious as a heart attack.  
"I'm coming."  

I put the phone down, walked into the kitchen, drank a glass of water to clean my palate, walked around the pool table to get my heart rate up and made the trek to Her Majesty's apartment.  She was waiting as I entered.  She held in her hand a crystal bowl etched with roses.  The potato salad glowed yellow and white against the glass.  I looked longingly at the chunks of potato swimming in a sea of mayonnaise, dill, pickle and a variety of onion.  The smell startled my nose, nearly forcing a sneeze.  I took the bowl by both hands, bowed once, took the spoon and partook of something so delightful, there are no words found to describe the taste.  Not even the great Stratford Bard himself could describe the miracle that is Luella's Potato Salad. 

"Be honest, what do I need to add?" she asked.  I thought for a moment while I savored every morsel still left between my teeth and under my tongue.  
"Yes," her eyes widen with anticipation.
"Perhaps a bit more pickle juice."  
"Yes, just what I was thinking."  She took a jar from the counter and bathed the top of the salad with just enough juice to cause it to slightly gurgle.  
"Its ready," she whispered.
"Yes, its ready."  I agreed.
She blew out the candles, put away the crucifix and opened the curtains.  She lifted the bowl of salad high over her head and announce her accomplishment. 
"Today we mortals eat like Gods.  Prepare Ye Williamsons for an infusion of light and joy."  She put the bowl back down on the kitchen table and held out her hand.  She was weak and in need of rest.  I helped her to her recliner and fetched a large glass of ice cold water to soothe her parched throat.

It is nearly 3:00 P.M.  It is time for the gathering.  
There is sorrow in our hearts for our family members not with us today.    


P.S.  One reason why I never watch her make the salad.  Things tend to get messy.




  1. Victor you are so entertaining!!! Thank you for sharing your talents of writing, knowledge, and humor. That last picture and comment made me laugh hysterically:) So much like my dad. Must be a Mattson thing. Hope you had a wonderful memorial day weekend.
    Candace Mattson Joseph

  2. Hahaha!! That was the funniest post. Dan and I were dying laughing!