Sunday, October 9, 2011


Jacob Ellefson, taking a momentary breather from the sink,
comments on the exceptional red maple out his sink window.
Washington Island, Wisconsin -

The turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, squash, pumpkin pie, etc. may have been outstanding as usual - and they were, according to many who stopped by the kitchen to express their appreciation - but the work in the trenches is equally important to a fine meal!

Many of the volunteers ate first, then worked in the kitchen for an hour or two afterwards.  A few worked, then ate at one of five seatings, then worked some more.   It's essential to keeping the Island's traditional Trinity Lutheran Church Fall Harvest Dinner moving along, flowing smoothly, allowing for serving in excess of 500 in an evening.

A running narrative of jokes mixed with fiction and fact flowed from the scraper's corner where Tim Lyons manned a rubber spatula over garbage cans as he received the busser's trays.   John Gay, Pat Hewlett, Dorothy Gay, Charlotte Hansen, Christie Hansen, Joan Hansen, Dan Hansen, Jacob Ellefson, John Davies, Jerry and Marlene Mann, Terry and Linda Henkel, Judy Perry, Joan Zorn, Betty Sperberger, Kirby and Margaret Foss - yours truly on the silverware sink - were among those more or less on duty during the first several kitchen hours.  All activities were managed and coordinated by Barb O'Connell who has a remarkable knack for keeping food and utensils in balance with diners' expectations.

This list does not even begin to mention the many who rotated through kitchen preparations hours earlier, or later, or the dozens of wait staff and greeters, including many teens, and those who worked the door, who handled reservations and money matters.  (A few kitchen photos shown were taken during lulls between serving and clearing tables.)

Frank had just completed a 3-wedding day at the Stavkirke, across the road from Trinity's main church, and sported Maxwell colors on his necktie, along with abbreviated leg wear.  Only an extraordinarily beautiful, warm October day would allow for getting away with such light summer clothing, but this was one of them.  And in the kitchen, an occasional breeze came through opened windows to invigorate the scullery crew.

"How did the weddings go today?" I asked, knowing it was always a bit of stress to coordinate such events, and to do justice to people who may travel great distances for an island, lifetime event.

"Fine, but the first wedding groom called to say he was late, got tied up by traffic in Sister Bay and missed the ferry."  Things managed to get back on track, just the same, with skillful juggling.

The pace of ferry operations Saturday was indicative of the volume of people in Door County for the weekend.  Four crews ran steadily and made 28 round trips - a summertime pace - in approximately a 12-hour period, moving traffic across the Door.

Today, Sunday, looks like it will be a similar snapshot.

  -  Dick Purinton

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