I have been working on my family tree and going through old albums. I came across this photo of my great grandmother “Ma” in her kitchen. This is a room she spent a lot of time in.
The reason that I am sharing the photo is because I wanted to show the readers what a real kitchen of a real person looked like in 1958. This is the kitchen were she canned all the food that she, her husband and their ELEVEN children would need. As a matter of fact, she has so many children that her own children has some children of their own before her last little ones were born. Some, like my grandmother, moved her family in with Ma’s.
Every single thing that they ate came from their farm and the garden. Every vegetable that they would eat in the winter was prepared right there in that kitchen. She had to can everything that would not keep. Green beans, beets, tomatoes, asparagus, leeks, cucumbers, peaches, pears, apples, plums… everything from veg to preserves was all canned.
I am not sure if you see what I am driving at? Did you notice in the photo that there was not a little bit of counter top in that kitchen? No storage either? The food was kept in the cellar and that little shelf above the stove was for every day dishes and cutlery. It was also for keeping things warm, for those who were late. All food prep and eating were done on the same table, covered in oil cloth, all the cooking was done there on the stove unless in the middle of summer when the stove was moved out into the back kitchen. All the food prep would have to be put away and everything wiped before the table could be set and people could eat. It was not unusual for there to be 30 people eating in this kitchen.
I will think about this photo the next time I start thinking the 6 feet of counter at THO is small. Clearly this tiny houser has things pretty good.
I don’t mean to glorify those days. I know that times were hard and that there was so much work to be done. Poor Ma never stopped working! Her hands were like leather on bones. Truthfully, I think Ma must have been pretty happy by the time 1958 came around and they were sufficiently recovered from the great depression that times were easier and she could buy a jar of pickles instead of making everything.
The question is, do you think you could go without cupboards and countertops in your house?