Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Kitchen of My Youth









Joining Heather for the Kitchen Blog Hop.  Kind of.

Okay, so this is not technically "my" kitchen, and it's not all this week. But it's the kitchen of my youth, and we visited on Sunday to celebrate birthdays.

The pictures:
  • The kitchen as a whole, today: cabinets to die for. My Dad built them when he and my mother moved into the house.
  • Cake!  My mother made two birthday cakes, one for me and one for Sam.  My mother makes the most delicious cake ever, even at almost 88.  
  • The "Comet Commercial" (My mother holding a can of comet in it).  This is a cult classic picture in my family--I've been saying for years that I'm going to frame it and build a shrine to it. Maybe this year is the year, in my own kitchen.
  • The last two: me as a baby.  I find that "claw" coming at my head to shampoo me kind of amusing.  And that last picture? That's me with my siblings (Steve and Kaethi).  Um, yeah, they're quite a bit older than me.  Big Irish family.  
This is the kitchen where I learned to bake cakes.  It's where I learned to play cribbage (a nightly ritual--my mother first played Mike, then Kevin, then Pat, then me, drawing in a new child when the last moved out of the house).  It's where we ate every night in the years I barely remember--all ten of us crowding around a tin-top table with leaves that pulled out.  My sister Chris got one particular corner seat because she's left-handed.  It's where we had a big Sunday "dinner" in the middle of the afternoon every week.  It's where there's an old-fashioned wall phone (red) where I talked to friends for hours in high school.  It's where I washed dishes by hand, and tried to find someone else to dry them (I still hate drying dishes).  It's where the stockings were hung every year, on the knobs of the lower cabinets--we have no fireplace there, and there were, after all, ten of us.  

So many memories in that one little room.  Now it's where I settle in to share tea with my mother when I visit.  One of my last sweet memories of Dad is from that kitchen.  He had lost touch with reality, but on one afternoon when we visited he and my mother recalled a song from their youth and sang it together, holding hands. It's where my mother made a cake for Sam's 6-month birthday and cut a candle in half to light it (no, no: we did not let the baby eat cake, never fear).  My relationship to that kitchen, to that house, to that town is now so different, so much less solid than it used to be. But it's still a part of me.  It still influences who I am in my own kitchen.  



For one thing, I've brought things into my kitchen now that remind me of that kitchen I grew up in--bowls that my mother had (okay, she only had the little blue one by the time I was a kid), and the same kind of recipe box that she used when I was little.  And I always have the necessary ingredients for making cake handy, just like Mum.  

I wonder what my kids will recall from our own kitchen when they grow up.  Will it be the crayons we kept on the table for spontaneous art projects?  Will it be me listening to music while cooking?  The smell of pancakes and bacon, or of treats baking in the oven?  Sadly, for Sam there will be memories of shots and inset changes and countless blood sugar checks.  Less sadly, they will probably remember my middle-aged fascination with making jam and body-care products.  Hopefully they'll remember how much love went into our lives together in this room.

I ran much longer than intended today. For those of you who made it through this stream-of-consciousness nostalgia: thanks!

What do you remember about the kitchen where you grew up? What do you hope your loved ones will remember about your kitchen now?

14 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your stories. And the photos. What wonderful memories you have growing up. I'm sure your children's memories will be just as great.

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    1. I hope so! Thanks for visiting.

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  2. I love your take on this and the sweet love used to describe the kitchen of your youth. Very inspirational, thanks!

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    1. Yes, it was *crowded*, but full of love.
      Thanks for visiting

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  3. Lovely post and beautifully amazing photos of your family. Sweet memories. Thank you so much for sharing. Beautiful.

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    1. That chair I mentioned in your post last week was always next to the red phone on the wall...!

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  4. I love those kitchen cupboards!

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    1. Totally with you on that. It's a small kitchen, but the storage space is unbelievable. My Dad worked as a carpenter, then a machinist. He loved to make things.

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  5. Replies
    1. Thanks! And Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Such sweet memories.. The kitchen is the heart of the home...xo

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  7. They really are sweet memories, aren't they, of the kitchens of our childhood? That house was small, crowded, and noisy--but so full of love.

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  8. Truly brought me to tears with the memories I have of that kitchen... Thanks for adding your experience with Dad as well - such a gift.

    Not sure about you but the other thing I recall clearly is spending lots of time with my nose in a corner with the several time outs I received in my youth... LOL

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    1. I think Mum had mellowed by the time that I came around! (Or, perhaps, was just too tired to discipline much anymore...)

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