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The Dinner of a Great Life
Yes That Is Me Being Held
Keep Your Left Hand in Your Lap With Your Cloth Napkin Or Go Straight to Bed Without This Homemade Black Berry Ice Cream.
The first time I gazed in wonderment at the glorious dinner setting I was just barely tall enough to look over the table all set using my step stool my grandpa made for me. Yes my youngest son now uses it. I figure it is over sixty years old.
It was my job to do a few things. I wonder if I was even 6. I would go down in the basement and carry up pinewood out of our coal bin. Put them in our 5 foot by 5 foot fireplace that heated our downstairs with the heat rising to take the chill off our upstairs where we six siblings slept. But no issue there. Down blankets kept us warm on zero degrees mornings. (did you know that it really cannot snow at below zero?)
So doctor Frankie sat in my dad’s chair. The only other man I ever saw sit in that chair. Oh, imagine in the 60’s the Doctor was well over 85 years old. So he would sit next to me in what we called Navajo style but more like Buddha. And he taught me how to use old newspapers twisted up tight to ignite the fire. Then I would lie there all clean and spit polished for dinner. And the doc. would regale us kids about riding a wagon out to Arizona. And his Hopi friends.
The house, well over a hundred years old now was actually bought from Sears and Robuck. Shipped out to Flagstaff via the great and mighty Santa Fe railroad.
Lest I forget Ms. Tinsley the lady that was all six of us kids kindergarten teacher would come by and talk about the old school house where she taught at first. She was a fully allowed to be a spinster but I thind she had a thing for our widower doc. A one room schoolhouse just like in the books and movies although at the time we had a six inch TV that we all watched Bonanza on and maybe my dad’s favorite, Road Runner cartoons. My dad grew up in LA and attended Jesuit school so he knew the artists. He also was Admiral King’s private physician. And then he moved our family to Flagstaff in part to adopt Dr. Frankie’s medical practice. No, not to take it over but to adopt the patients. I had to clean a chicken he brought home as payment from Mr. Dijon from Louisiana.
The man later became my erstwhile guardian and taught me things like running a trout line and catching rattle snakes. I seem to recall that he was the first black man to rise to second leuy in the marines in Korea. His son had a medal of honor and a Purple Heart from Nam. He once, right in front of me wrestled down a 12 foot Boa Constrictor. He also trapped and caged the last mountain lion in northern Arizona which my dad placed in the awesome wildlife preserve in Tucson. These men were real men. I do not know if they make them anymore.
Can You Even Imagine This Man? I Think It Was The Marine's Son, But I Think Dad Treated Him Like His Father. A fine fine Pima Indian.
I Am Not Joking One Bit, This Is Not a Norman Rockwell Painting it is Really My Home of Youth
Please Do Not Laugh At Me. My Really Did Live Without Electricity or Gas for Many Months Of the Year.
These men were real men. I do not know if they make them anymore.I thought my dad told me he was at Iwo Jima. But my mom said that that was his dad. From what I gathered my dad treated him for being a drunk. He would hold my hand and raise it to the sky and chant something. Maybe it was a curing deal as I still had butt high braces on my legs.
Enough of my ramblings. So my mom, or maybe my dad for her, bought an Iron rite. She had these very strange bed coverings that I think she got in Missouri on one of her “antiquing” jaunts. So they were pure American cotton and along with the cloth napkins they were ironed and dressed her wonderful banquet table. Reused table clothes I guess. My oldest brother Dan made a table leaf for the oak table so one time we 22 sit at it complete with three Candelabras from the century before. Please take me seriously. This is real with only tiny embellishments.
Ironstone. If you do not know what that is, I will give you a brief explanation. I for some reason think it started in England at about the Battle of Hastings time. Ceramic pitchers and plates. Something like Staffordshire first produced in mass production around 1840 I think. Really cool china I would guess they called it. My mom had some from before like 1770.
Have you ever drank wine out of a silver goblet? I did at about 10. Food is not properly digested without the red stuff.
Here is another turn. There was a guy named Percifal Lowell who using a telescopic camera discovered Pluto, maybe a planet or maybe not. He lived up Mars hill from us, our ski and sledding hill, later the testing ground for Apollo moon landings just 35 miles away. Oh for sure he died in ’16 but his work at the Mars observatory continued. They housed the first full card read computer there that my sisters worked at. All binary stuff with these Key Cards.
So the story gets very strange indeed. “Dumping”. Oh yes you could call it dumpster diving. But not really. Some way my mom found out dump sites from as far as 100 years old. Load up the six of us in the old Ford Station Wagon and go to a dumpsites. Isn’t that weird? So just north of Jerome Arizona in a strange place for a sand dune. We hit pay dirt, literally. Can you imagine an intact Kerosine Lantern and three pristine 1870’s wagon wheels. A trunk filled with clothes of the era. And about 8 pieces of china. Of course some silverware and trinkets.
Back to Lowell. She parked the wagon and we trudged up the hill to Lowell’s dump. Do you know what a wire insulator is? These little cup sized glass things, but what makes them special after 50 years is the bluing. But up on the hill there was everything thing from plates of 1900 to incurable silverware. Truth be told my hobby collection was canes. Just handles was good enough.
I Was In The Hospital Once And They Told Me Later That I Had Died. I Told Them "If So Why Did I Dream of a Rock Cliff To Climb?"
Can You Imagine A Life With a Hug Every Single Day, Except In The Middle of Desert. But Us Boys Spread Wings And Hug. Can You Imagine A Fifty Year Old With a 50
I Suppose You are All Smarter Than I, I hope this brought a humble Blessing to you as my mom's Dinners for all Of Us.
I have fallen more than most I figure
Back to the table. My sisters ironed and polished. Other than the fire, which you might may like looking for as pine knots I had other chores. We did not have garbage bags in those days. I would empty the garbage in a steel trash can and then I lined the kitchen garbage bin with newspaper. Mom would declare the kitchen floor dirty and I mopped it and then dried with rag. Boy did I get red knees. But then it was time to sit on my stool and clean the spoons with all the icings and chocolate. In all my years I have not done a job so well ;-) Do not tell anyone but I liked the “smashed potatoes” more with the heaven sent gravy that took two whole days to make.
And then there was this fantastic tradition of inviting 14 or so guests for my chosen day. Doctors, Lawyers and such and a preacher man who taught me that the whole deal about Christ was love.
Beef Wellington was served every year for nigh on 30. I would sit next to my mom and she would smack my hand and occasionally my mouth. Using the danged wrong fork or not placing my napkin on my lap or pushing away my peas was treasonous. Left hand knife if needed and right with the fork like a pencil. But you were an insult to the cook if you needed a knife for the Wellington.
Can you imagine I had an old window chest to hide in with my toys? We got rid of it so our 12 footer for each year would fit.
Truth be told I wrote this for oldies but also so I got a piece down. Sorry no insight or wisdom just love for my family. Now in another deal I will tell you about how mom cooked on a Ben Franklin oven wood heated with no electricity.
Please love yourself first and then others. We all need your kindness.