My Forty Years Scribblin's
Personal Memories
Anyone For Mince Pie?

This short story was written in 1996, published in the November-December 1994 issue of The Montana Journal. Mildred makes a batch of mince meat.


I have not missed making one, two, and sometimes three batches of mincemeat in sixty-five years, one of those a really memorable experience. Cooking for the Forest Service five days a week left me with only weekends to get my own work done, so my mind was usually pointed in several directions at once. Hunting season was over, and the wild meat taken care of, the last of it already cooked and slated for my annual mincemeat project.

I made a habit of taking bones home from the Ranger Station kitchen on Friday nights for our dog to chew on. He loved them but neglected to pick them up or even bury them. On my way in from the store one Saturday morning, I was confronted with an unsightly array of naked bones scattered around the yard. I made a mental note to gather them up as soon as I found time.

At last the bowls of washed raisins, currants, ground venison and suet, brown sugar, spices and what-not sat lined up on the drain board. I put ground orange and lemon rind and a mixture of fruit juices, cider and vinegar in a big old dish pan on the wood stove to start cooking. I would peel and chop the apples while the jumble of meat and fruits was simmering. But first I intended to pick up those repulsive chunks of skeleton littering the place before someone came along. With the bones in a paper bag and my mind somewhere else, I lifted the stove lid with one hand and dumped the contents of the bag in the dish pan!

Horrors! Consternation washed over me. Well, the project was too far along to scuttle, so that meant another trip to the store before I could finish. As I carried the pan out the door daughter, Judy, came in, properly astonished to see me throwing out "all that good smelling stuff." While I felt only disgust, she thought the whole thing was hilarious. For the next several years her favorite story was, without further enlightenment, "Mom put the dog's bones in the mince-meat!"