If you delight in letters--remember them?-- as well as food, American history, and familial fondness, read this book. It's called Slick as a Mitten, by Dennis M. Larsen, it's published by Washington State University Press , and it's about a character named Ezra Meeker.
The book, rich with old photos, is based on Meeker's letters, mostly to his wife, Eliza Jane. She and Ezra came west on
Unimaginable in this era of Bank of America et al? The mid to late 1890's were a time of bank closings and financial downturn in the US.
Once gold was discovered in the Klondike area in 1897, the race was on. But, unsurprisingly, so many masses of people arriving in an inhospitable area did not find enough to eat. People suggested that there was more money to be made in supplying miners than in engaging in mining itself. "There are no fresh vegetables of any kind here," said one.
Meeker took note of this and decided to supply both fresh and dried veg, as well as reconstitutable eggs to the populations springing up in Yukon tent cities. He specialized in granulated and sliced potatoes, dried cabbage, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, pop corn, and fresh oysters from the east, hauling everything first by steamer, then along icy trails with "teamsters," and floating produce down the Yukon River.
He was 67 when he started. In three years he had made possible the movement of almost 100 tons of food. And throughout those years, he wrote regularly to Wife, back home in Washington, signing himself Husband. It was Eliza Jane who supervised the dehydration of the eggs, and the preparation and packing of the veggies.
As for the phrase slick as a mitten, Ezra lost his assets that way, he said, swiftly. I picture a thick leather mitten, coated with ice.
ps Meeker planned the town of Puyallup, and named it. The name honored the native people there, known as the "generous people," but whether their generosity extended to the deeding of their lands to white settlers for hop growing I do not know. ..