“We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand. We were here; we are human beings; this is how we lived. Let it be known, the earth passed before us. Our details are important. Otherwise, if they are not, we can drop a bomb and it doesn’t matter. . . Recording the details of our lives is a stance against bombs with their mass ability to kill, against too much speed and efficiency. A writer must say yes to life, to all of life: the water glasses, the Kemp’s half-and-half, the ketchup on the counter. It is not a writer’s task to say, “It is dumb to live in a small town or to eat in a café when you can eat macrobiotic at home.” Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of our life as they exist – the real truth of who we are: several pounds overweight, the gray, cold street outside…We must become writers who accept things as they are, come to love the details, and step forward with a yes on our lips so there can be no more noes in the world, noes that invalidate life and stop these details from continuing.”
― Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
I think if I were to go back to the house where I grew up, if some time warp would permit, and walk in the rooms and the hallways, I could take up now as if I never left. I could go into the kitchen and know which cupboard to open for a plate, a soup bowl or a glass. Which cupboard to open to remove a can of soup and which to open for a kettle in which to heat the soup on the stove. Why is it that those details remain so clear?
Our kitchen in the 1,000 square foot house was not crafted from expensive materials. Our house was built in 1948-1949 in that post war period when materials were scarce and expensive for builders and homebuyers to come by. The counter tops were Formica with metal molding strips along the edges and over time it started to show worn patches from being cleaned and wiped so often with a sponge or a dishcloth. The cabinets were plywood, stained and varnished a maple sort of color, though it was painfully clear they were plywood. They were not veneer and there was no attempt to fool the eye into thinking they were something they were not. The floor was linoleum, again one of those post-war grades and of a non-descript pattern that didn’t show stains and spills readily. It was practical. When I watch HGTV now and see granite counter tops and art glass back splashes, cherry wood cabinets and high grade ceramic floor tiles, I am amazed that some people consider these necessities, rather than “nice to have” or luxuries.
Under one counter were built in “bread boards” or “eating boards,” larger than the average cutting board, the kind with knobs that pulled out, each one about 25 inches wide and about as deep. There were two of them, side by side, separated by about 2 inches. They could be used for rolling out pie crust or sugar cookie dough, for food preparation or chopping vegetables. We also used them as a kitchen table. At meal time, we pulled both of them out as far as they would go, to make an eating/dining surface of about 52 x 25 inches, with the crack in the middle separating the two. My father would sit at the far right end facing East, my mother would sit in the center to my father’s left, facing South, and I would sit at the other end facing West and facing my father, with my back wedged up against hinge side of the refrigerator door. I sat on a four-legged kitchen stool with no back; it was hard to fit a chair at that end because of the close proximity of the refrigerator door, smack up against my back. Hence, the stool. And if the refrigerator had to be opened any time during the meal, I would have to stand up and move the stool to allow for the door to open. My parents each sat on a chair pulled over from the adjacent dining room. We used the dining room only for company.
In the early 50s, we had an incomplete set of pastel dinnerware, mostly dinner plates and a few salad plates, cups and saucers. Over time many pieces broke and were discarded. Most that remained were chipped. In reviewing the different patterns I’ve found on the web, I think they were probably LuRay dinnerware, made by the Taylor Smith & Taylor Company. Continue reading