Sunday, August 19, 2012
Five doors into the Kitchen
Near the woodstove sat an oak kitchen table with six chairs. Behind the table was a hutch full of dishes and bowls. I think the top half had glass doors so everything was in plain sight. The bottom half was drawers for linens and such. Behind the wood stove was another door. Open it and you found the back stairway. My mother and aunts would tell of cold, winter mornings when they were in school and how they'd run down those stairs in a hurry to soak up the heat of the woodstove. Central heating was not a concept back then. My cousins and I loved running up those stairs which led to a bedroom with a 'secret' doorway taking you into another bedroom. There were five bedrooms in all.
On the other side ot the woodstove was another door which led to the cellar with its mud floor and low-lying ceiling so much so that adults had to stoop over to get around. I remember shelves stocked with canned vegetables from the gardens and jars of slippery pickles-possibly the best pickles in the world along with corn relish and pickled pears. There were sacks and sacks of potatoes stored for the winter and another stairway leading up to the small, cement stoop which served as the back porch with its own door leading into the kitchen. The back door leading into the kitchen is the door in the photo included in this post showing my grandfather coming in from the barn. (Also shown is the door leading to the cellar). My grandfather was a hard-working man with fields and pastures and hayfields and cows to tend to and six daughters to provide for. Relaxing for him meant reading the Saturday Evening Post or a Zane Gray novel in one of the front parlors in the evening. He always had a pouch of chewing tobacco on him. From what I recall, it was red and white and kept in his back pocket. On the far wall of that kitchen was another door taking you to the dining room with its slanted floor, the three front parlors, a screened-in veranda and a front stairway.
That farm kitchen with its five doorways leading in and out it was like a command center steering traffic to and fro. That kitchen was as glorious and amazing as any kitchen featured on glossy pages of any magazine today showcasing brandname cupboards and island dividers and chopping blocks with walls perfectly manicured and decor accents in place-especially when the back door opened and a grandfather came in from the barn or six sisters raced down the backstairs to warm up and get dressed for school or grandchildren went out to the woodshed to perform star-studded shows or fill their arms with wood or the best grandmother in the world would go down the cellar stairs for potatoes or jars of relish or slippery pickles or pickled pears saved for a holiday meal or aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, brothers, and sisters would go through the door leading to the rest of that farmhouse to set the dining room table, play in the parlors, run up the front stairs or sit on the screened-in veranda and share some time together.
While that kitchen is long gone I am blessed with the oak kitchen table and its six chairs sitting in my dining room. Some traditions do carry on. It's up to the adults to tell younger generations of kitchens with five doors and everything else in-between.