Mr. Gilson’s Meatloaf
(Learn to Feed Yourself!)
Donna Gilson was my bff from first grade through 7th. She lived on the “poor”
side of town, I lived on the “rich” side of town, but neither of us was either. We
I was about 10 or 11 when the Gilsons had a birthday party in their back yard, and
the celebration just amazed me. I had never seen anything like it!
Mrs. Gilson put out crispy salad, potatoes and fresh vegetables – from their own
garden! I was mesmerized by the sight of fresh, plump, red tomatoes standing
above the ground on vines – they kept it penned off to us so I had never seen
anything like that before in my life! Then, Mr. Gilson put out his prize dish:
meatloaf that made me understand why people like meat!!!
That was the most amazing dinner I’d ever had.
I spent that night at their house, as I often did, and I told Mr. Gilson that his
meatloaf was the best thing I’d ever tasted. He just laughed. Sadly for him, I would
be spending the weekend at his house, too, and I was determined to know how to
See, Mr. Gilson spent six 12-hour days/week pumping gas, and Mrs. Gilson
worked 3rd shift as a nurses’ aide. They had five kids – six, really, since I was
there most of the time and stayed overnight at least once a week.
That weekend, Mr. Gilson Finally got home from work, took his usual one-hour
shower (after which, he gleamed like he had spent the day at the end of a rainbow),
and sat down to have a couple beers and watch WWF. Poor Mr. Gilson…
Me: Mr. Gilson, I really loved that meatloaf you made!
Mr. Gilson: Heh heh heh.
Me! Will you tell me how to make it?
Mr. Gilson: Heh heh heh
It finally came to this:
Me: Mr. Gilson, I have a pen and some paper, please just Tell me!
Mr. Gilson realized he was not about to have a peaceful night, or a couple beers
just laughing at WWF. My bff, Donna, was hitting my arm to shut me up, but I
wouldn’t. I couldn’t!
Finally he said, “Wash your hands, go into the kitchen and mince an onion.” Well,
actually, he kinda growled it.
As I was finishing he came into the kitchen and said, “Take the meat out of the
refrigerator, wash it off, mix it in a big bowl with the onions and two eggs, and
pound a hole in the center.
There was actually a pound and a half of Fresh Ground Meat in his refrigerator!
We only had stale Arby’s sandwiches in ours!!! Wow!
I could hear Mr. Gilson open another beer and chuckle a bit at WWF but, right on
cue, he came back into the kitchen, and dumped a few tablespoons of ketchup into
the center of the bowl.
This was the Big step: He pulled a new strip of saltine singles out of the cabinet,
handed a roll of waxed paper and a rolling pin to me and said: “Turn the oven on to
350, wrap these crackers and roll them into dust, pour them into the middle, then
mix it all up.
And wash your hands first!”
I kneaded that mixture until he came back and gave me a pan. He watched silently
as I shaped the final production, then he slapped some ketchup along the top with a
He said, “bake that for 45 minutes to an hour. When you finish the dishes, Mop the
See, you didn’t argue with Mr. Gilson. And, I never ever forgot how to make Mr.
Don’t try substitutions – they only ruin it!
This piece is written by a friend of mine; Kat. You can reach her on Twitter: @Kat_in_Arizona
Thank you for sharing, Kat! 🙂