Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grandparents’ Kitchens, by Aunt CB

Grandma's Porch, Center Lisle
Thinking back to the 1930’s when I went down to Grandma Baker’s for vacations, I can still see in my mind’s eye her kitchen, a large sunny room with a big iron cooking stove, a cot under the back window to nap on, a rocking chair near the front window, back in the corner with the farm journals near at hand to read in any spare time—but the real center of life was the round dining table off to the side.

Grandma Baker--I love this picture! Is this how she waited for the grandchildren to arrive? With pie in hand and sitting in the snow?

Surrounded by chairs, the table center was covered with a special cloth which covered all the important things left there from meal to meal. Everyone did this, to ward off flies, for tables in those days were set with more than plates and silverware. There was always a spoon holder, a vase like glass from which the spoon handles protruded. There was too, the sugar bowl, salt and pepper shakers, and Grandma’s table always had a pedestal cake stand, loaded with not cake but cookies, great big lemony sugar cookies or molasses ones. There was need for a covering cloth with all the sweet stuff calling the flies.

Emily Carr Taylor, Grandpa Taylor's second wife

My Grandfather Taylor had a castor set for the table center. This was a silver handled round basket like tray with holes where glass bottles were inserted. These were filled with vinegar, home made ketchup, maybe hot sauce or mustard. When we had family dinners at his house above each place was set a tiny glass dish filled with salt to dip radishes or celery in. The celery stood in a tall round vase-like glass while the radishes, all cut to resemble roses, were passed in boat like dishes. The Taylors were more formal than the Bakers. Another accessory dish to any meal where chicken was served was the small individual kidney shaped dish, nestled to the left of your plate. You placed the bones there.

Meals were heavier in those early days, vitamins were just being discovered. Salads were hearty macaroni, potato or cabbage, not tossed lettuce or jello molds. Regardless of the food content, a well set table contained all of the above and was covered after each meal.

A lot more work than today!

40 Porter Street in Batavia--where Grandpa Taylor and Emily lived


Pat said...


Thank you for continuing to share your memories with us!


Mom/Lucille said...

The picture of Grandma Baker showed her birthday cake![March 2] Sylve often made her one as she had taken a decorating class and loved to do same!

Sue Kinsella said...

The "Grandma Baker's Kitchen" that I knew was at Adin's house and, while I remember the kitchen, that wasn't where the focus was for a little kid. What I most remember was the dining table in the living room where that kitchen food ended up.

In particular, I remember Grandma Baker sending me out into the front yard to pick dandelion greens - just weeds, as far as I was concerned - and then making a tasty, if somewhat bitter, salad from them. And then of course I remember her reading my tea leaves after dinner. I'm not sure I'd ever had tea before, and I was mightily impressed when she predicted I'd be going on a long journey. And I did - we drove home!