This Corn and Chili Dip recipe with tortilla chips travels well. (Contributed)

Living just off Highway 9 in Ben Lomond, I am often caught up in lines of traffic going “nowhere” for minutes at a time. So much so, that I keep a notepad and pen in the console next to my seat, jotting down random thoughts.

Earlier this month, I was on my way to the market for a bag of Pinto beans and I had forgotten it was the day of SLV’s high school graduation, and yes, there I sat in my car as young men and women, wearing caps and gowns either drove or walked past.

I shook my head as opened gowns revealed both shorts and jeans, many with today’s fashion of torn open knees, T-shirts with logos, shoulders and bellies bare and finally, feet wearing flip-flops. Young men with long hair hanging from under their caps and rings in their ears, while young women, necks and arms bearing tattoos, with some wearing nose rings, walked by.

I took note of those not in gowns as being friends and family, no men wearing suits and women very casually dressed in shorts, jeans, a few in dresses and more bare bellies and shoulders, and yes, more flip-flops.

Then and now, immediately came to mind, as the CHP officer who had been controlling traffic, waved us on.

Passing the high school on my way home, I thought of my own high school graduation from Visitation Villa in Tacoma, Wash., decades ago.

The “Villa” was a Catholic school and home to 32 girls from age 5 through 18, most from broken homes or without their parents. A few girls were “day” students whose parents wanted their daughters to have a Catholic education.

Then, Grad Day was different in so many respects. Our caps (then called mortar boards) and gowns were white including the tassel, and under our gowns was our best dress with legs sporting nylons and feet in our first ever one-inch “cube” hi-heel shoes.

Families were dressed in their finest to the event, suits and ties and dresses under their best jackets were worn. Men sat with hats in their laps and women had their hands folded over their purse on their lap. While waiting, people spoke in whispers, sitting up straight on folding chairs.

Graduation was a solemn event.

In the 1950s, graduation had been in the mind of each family from the first day of high school. That first day, we became the “lowly” frosh, then we were the sophs who moved after one year to the rank of a junior, and finally, we were a senior who everyone looked up to.

We spent that final year, if we were “lucky,” choosing a college, writing our class “prophesy” for our yearbook (which we wrote, typed and printed ourselves), posing for our graduation photos (that were taken by a parent), planning our class picnic, acting in our senior class play, and finally, prom night.

Unlike today, the few dollars that might have been spent would have been for material to make a prom dress if we had money in our envelope that Sr. Charlotte kept in her office. Today these costs are in the hundreds of dollars.

On graduation night, we six seniors solemnly marched into the gymnasium to the music of Pomp and Circumstance played by Sr. Loretta on our old upright piano. We were seated on the stage and each senior took her turn speaking; there was no valedictorian nor salutatorian. The nuns believed in equality, playing no favoritism.

Our graduation ceremony included an invocation and a benediction and our parish priest gave each of us a “sign of the cross” blessing as he handed out each diploma.

Oh, life and values were so different then. Was life better Then, or is life better Now? You be the judge, dear Reader.

Now that June has come to an end, the Fourth of July weekend will be filled with families, friends, picnics and out-of-door barbecues and I’m always looking for new dips for my favorite tortilla chips to go along with my pot of Mexican beans and make-ahead dishes.

The Corn and Chili Dip recipe that follows is fabulous and goes great with the Mexican Pot of Beans recipe I’ve included. These travel well.

Corn and Chili Dip

2 Poblano Chilies (1/2 cup) charred, peeled and diced.

1/2 small Jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced.

1 eight oz. package of cream cheese, softened.

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 package petite frozen corn, thawed and drained.

1 small clove diced garlic

2 Tbsp. diced cilantro

S/P to taste.


Adjust pepper amounts to taste.

Mexican Pot of Beans

8 oz package of Pinto Beans

In a pot of cold water, soak beans 8 hours or overnight.

In a large pot fry:

8 slices of diced bacon.


1 large yellow onion, diced

6 minced garlic cloves

Sauté together until translucent (15 min.).


2 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. oregano

1/2 can Rotel tomatoes, original

Bring to a simmer.


Soaked beans to above ingredients and 

8 cups of cold water.

Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer for 3 hours until very soft.

These beans can be mashed and topped with any shredded cheese and put under broiler until cheese is melted.

Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].

Previous articleTree work completed at Castle Rock State Park
Next articleFire claims Brookside Drive resident’s home, cat
Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here