By William Lawrence Sr.
Nobody knew Charlie’s real name, not even his closest friends. He was the biggest liar in California and probably the smelliest person in Sacramento.
He was known throughout the gold territory as “Charlie Talltale,” and the only reason his friends came within listening distance was to hear his outrageous lies and to eat his flapjacks.
Charlie credited the miraculous flavor of his pancakes to his magic frying pan. He bought it in a second-hand store in Sacramento and swore that it was human.
“It’s a female,” he should whisper. “It grows four or five feet at night and dances. Sings too. Sweetest voice this side of Helena, Montana.”
His audience would laugh and jeer.
“Does it have arms too, Charlie? Does it have hot lips, Charlie? Did you ever kiss your frying pan, Charlie?”
California’s biggest liar would lean back and smile knowingly. His friendly blue eyes twinkled like the night’s brightest star. “I’m telling you the truth,” he said.
One night a few of the old prospectors were sitting around a campfire laughing at Charlie’s preposterous claims.
Old Dutch Martin, who had been sipping homemade whiskey, suddenly got an idea. He would take Charlie’s magic pan and hide it. He got up and, without letting his cronies in on his plan, stumbled towards Charlie’s camp.
Charlie, after making flapjacks that day, had rinsed the pan in the nearby stream, and without realizing it, placed it over the nest of a family of pocket mice.
Just about the time Dutch Martin arrived, the pocket mice decided to leave their burrow. The effort of moving the pan caused the mice to grunt and squeak. To Dutch, standing there boggle-eyed, they sounded like a dance-hall soprano. Then the pan started to move. It appeared to grow feet and dance.
“Whoops,” shouted Dutch. “Charlie was telling the truth.”
Dutch ran back to the campfire to tell the boys what he saw. All the boys were pretty well soused, but since Dutch was known as a straight shooter, decided to investigate his story.
They made enough noise to awaken Charlie from a sound sleep. He listened as Dutch pointed to the pan and described what happened.
Charlie grinned, “Ah, the pan must really like you Dutch, she don’t dance and sing for just anybody.”
Charlie invited the boys to stop around the next morning for the most delicious pancakes in the west. Here is his recipe:
Charlie Talltale’s Flapjacks
1 Cup flour
1/2 Tsp. salt
1/2 Tsp. baking powder
3 Tbl. sugar
1 Cup milk
2 Tbs. melted bacon fat or butter
Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Beat eggs until light in a separate bowl. Stir in milk and bacon fat or butter. Then, using a few strokes as needed (over-beating results in tough flapjacks) blend the egg mixture into the dry. Pour about quarter-cup of batter per flapjack on a hot greased pan. The flapjacks are done when both sides are nicely browned. Serve with butter and syrup. Charlie’s flapjacks always came with bacon.
Charlie, whenever, possible added fresh picked huckleberries to his flapjacks always measuring by a generous eye. Arguably, that’s what really made them a legend.
For a modern twist, use blueberries in lieu of huckleberries, mix a very ripe banana into the batter and add a dollop of vanilla.