"Hack and Scratch"

Ah, yes… the story of “Hack and Scratch”.

I worked for a towboat company that pushed barges all over the western rivers. The larger vessels at that time and probably to this day carry cooks.

The cooks are usually old semi retired southern women. Most of them can cook food that is the best you’ll ever taste on the southern cookin scale.

However, “this one time at band camp” or as the cliche goes “on one of my last boats…” we had a cook that got dubbed “Hack-n-Scratch”.

She was 80 if she was a day old and she looked like she might keel over at any second.

She smoked Virginia Slim 100’s. They were the longest cigarettes i have ever seen. Especially when they had about a 1 1/2" long ash hanging off of them while she dangled them over your food as she cooked it.

We would sometimes luck out and her hacking flem fit would start while she was not hovering over the stove top and her spastic coughing would cause her to shake that ash loose on the galley deck instead of flavoring our food with it.

My God that woman had a lot of flem.

The crew boycotted the food and the captain got ticked. He ordered us to eat the food. We still made sandwiches.

God, love the favoritsm and “untouchable” river cooks of the bigger river towboats.

Ok top that one you sick bastards!

I double dog dare ya!