We started every meal with one of us - whose ever turn it was - saying a short ritualistic Moravian prayer and then we filled our plates from communal bowls and platters in the center of the table. Dinner conversation was always pretty lively.
The only time I ever remember the TV being on during a meal was the Sunday that Oswald was being escorted from jail after the Kennedy assassination and Jack Ruby shot him right there on TV. Otherwise, the TV was totally off during all meals. (And, by the way, every Monday-Thursday nights, as well. We were allowed to watch after school but not after dinner.)
We rarely went out to dinner - I mean maybe once a year tops. But that was more a factor of no restaurants because no liquor by the drink. I do remember when the first fast food joint opened. Burger King. It was amazing!! We instantly loved everything about it. No mystery why the whole concept took off. But, we didn't get to go much.
When Daddy was out of town, meals relaxed a bit. We did sometimes get to to to Burger King. And when at home the food was also more casual. One of our very favorite meals of all times - one of the few things the three of us kids really agreed on - was also Mom's favorite because it was the easiest to put together. It was a serving of cottage cheese with poor man's steak tartare. Literally, raw hamburger meat rolled into meat balls and served with salt. That was it. Yep. It was our favorite meal but not one we could have if we had friends over. We learned quickly that everyone else in the world thought it was gross. I haven't spoken to my sister in years, but I know my brother still loves this meal as do I.
We were a meat and potatoes family but my Mom did try to make us eat vegetables. I hated them then and still do dislike most of them.
In the mid 60's Daddy got a stomach ulcer. In those days, ulcers were believed to be caused by spicy foods. His doctor put him on a very strict diet. For months and months, all he was allowed to eat was baked potatoes and Malox. Now they mostly treat stomach ulcers with medication. I think he suffered more from the restrictive diet than he did the actual ulcer. It was very sad to watch him not get to eat good food.
For a while, we had some foods delivered. There was the Egg Lady. She brought eggs from her farm a few dozen at a time. And the milk man, of course. Several times a week, we'd leave empty bottles on the back stoop and he'd replace them with full bottles. We even had a potato chip guy. Charles Chips delivered giant tins of cookies and potato chips. OMG they were delicious. We also had a knife/scissor sharpening guy who came by every once in a while and, of course, the Fuller Brush Man.
Healthy eating was not a thing. I only encountered it much later in life. We ate by taste and price. And by geography. We had no pizza. We had spaghetti but it was just pasta with butter on it. We had no Asian anything. When I got to college, I discovered a whole world of food that I had never heard of and I discovered that many of the foods I knew and loved were foreign to my new Yankee friends.
My whole life, after dinner, when the kitchen had been cleaned up, my Mom would turn out the light on her way out and announce "The kitchen is closed." Every once in a while, actually really more often than not, I do that now.
[Note... these entries recalling my personal history were born out of a request from an LJ friend who is now leaving LJ... I'm grateful to her for making the request. She asked me to write about what it was like to grow up when I did. It has turned out to be a fun exercise for me so I think I'll just carry it on - at least through college years.]
To Be Continued