Going home in my mind, sitting in the kitchen of a house located at #16 North Main Street in a small village called Startex. I look around and I see several things that people in this day and time won’t see in their kitchens. First of all, I’m sitting in a booth, long before Hardee’s or McDonald’s thought about having them. I’m not sure if Daddy built it or it was already in the house when he bought it back before I was born. I don’t recall any of my friend’s houses having a booth but we had one. That made me feel special, don’t know why, but it did.
Over there on the door frame to the right, hanging on a nail is a flyswatter or two. A very handy tool in those days before air conditioning. Not the plastic kind you see today, these were made of what looked like screen wire like you saw on porches and windows of the people’s houses that were fortunate enough to have them.
Moving on around, on the other side of the door is our stove. I don’t remember much about the first stove we had but I remember in the mid sixties Daddy got a bonus from work. He spent most all of it on Mama. He bought a new stove for her kitchen. This one came from the Duke Power store up in Lyman instead of the Company Store across the street, like most everything else in our house did. It was wider than the one we had because it had two doors on the front. One door was smaller than the oven door and it was for storing pots and pans. It still had the drawer on the bottom for large baking pans. The new stove was a dark brown color called Coppertone. I can remember Mama was real proud of her new stove. He also bought Mama a car with that bonus but that’s another story for another time.
Down on the right, past that stove and the indoor water heater, was what Mama and Daddy used to call the laundry heater. Can't figure out why because our laundry room, if you could call it that, (all we had was a washing machine), was out on the back porch. Anyway, this heater was in our kitchen. It was black and had the name “Siegler” written in red on the front of it. It stood there in the middle of the floor with a stovepipe coming out of the back of it going up the wall and into a chimney up next to the ceiling. It was a lot like the one we had in the den except it was a lot older and didn’t have a blower on it. It burned #1 fuel oil and really put out some good heat in the wintertime. I can still see the cast iron kettle with the wooden handle that always sat right up on top of it with water in it to keep some humidity in the air. I remember on cold mornings standing in front of it rubbing my hands together to get warm when Mama would call us down for breakfast.
There were two drawers behind the old heater that you really couldn’t open all the way because the heater was in the way. The one in the corner was the most inaccessible and was our junk drawer where we kept miscellaneous stuff like hammers and screwdrivers etc. I still have a junk drawer in my kitchen today. The other was where we kept cooking utensils like big spoons for stirring and spatulas for turning hamburgers and eggs and such and large knives for cutting vegetables. The upper and lower cabinets there beside the heater were also where we kept junk stuff that you didn’t use often because they weren’t very accessible either, because of the heater.
There on the right side of the sink, hanging on a nail on the side of the upper cabinet, was the “dipper”. I’m quite sure you won’t see one of these in a kitchen these days. Heck, I bet a lot of young people probably don’t even know what I’m talking about. This was a big ladle that was used back in the day when people were working in the fields and someone would come by with a bucket of water and a big dipper. Each person would take the dipper, dip it in the bucket and drink a dipper full of water to quench their thirst. Everybody drank from the same dipper dipped in the same bucket. For a family of six, to keep from dirtying up so many glasses every time one of us wanted a drink of water, we kept the dipper right there beside the sink and all of us would use it, even our friends too when we had them over.
Coming on around on the left side, I can still see the painted cabinets, upper and lower, and remember what was in each one. In the last one beside the Hotpoint refrigerator was where we kept food stuff like cereal and canned goods. Opening the cabinet, I can see a small glass cup with a handle like a coffee cup. I can’t remember if it was clear or had some color but I can see flowers or vines kind of like Depression glass. In it is a small spoon with a brown plastic handle stuck down in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. There beside that is a glass butter dish with a stick of butter on it. We kept one stick out of the refrigerator, at room temperature, so it would be soft for spreading on toast or biscuits. When we used that stick up we’d replace it with a cold one.
Last, but not least, on the left side beside the door was the Hotpoint refrigerator. It’s the only refrigerator I remember being in the house up until my sister bought a new one after I had moved out in 1971. It was the kind with one big door from top to bottom and a little freezer door inside. I can remember on a Saturday, about once a month, Mama taking all of the food out of the top and bottom of the refrigerator, wrapping it in a quilt on the table, and defrosting the refrigerator. She would turn it off and put a dishpan full of steaming hot water in the bottom to melt the ice that had built up. She would have towels all over the floor to soak up the melted ice. Once it was defrosted she would mix up some type of cleaning liquid in a bucket and wash down the inside real good before she filled it back up with the food.
Mama died a little over 40 years ago when I was 13. She wasn’t one who liked to have her picture made very much. I only have two or three of her. As more time passes it gets harder and harder for me to remember her. But, when I sit down like this, close my eyes and let my mind go back home, I can see her standing there in that kitchen as plain as day, stirring something on the stove, humming ‘Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me’
As John Denver said in his song, “Hey, it’s good to be back home again.”
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